State Department "Secret Cable" Lays Out U.S. Intelligence-Gathering Agenda in Paraguay

Document Calls for Obtaining “Fingerprints, Facial Images, Iris Scans and DNA” on Nation’s Political Leaders

A State Department cable dated March 24, 2008, that is part of the most recent Wikileaks government-document data dump offers an interesting insight into the intelligence collection priorities of the U.S. government under the final year of the Bush administration.

The priorities outlined in this particular secret cable — with the subject line “REPORTING AND COLLECTION NEEDS: PARAGUAY”— could easily apply to most nations in Latin America at the time. The Secretary of State's Office sent the cable to the American Embassy in Asuncion, Paraguay — as well as to the CIA and Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) in Washington, D.C.

The leaked cable turns the looking glass on the U.S. intelligence mission in Paraguay under the administration of President Oscar Nicanor Duarte Frutos and exposes the State Department’s role as an overt data-collection arm of the U.S. intelligence community.

U.S. intelligence interests represented in the cable are diverse, but there is a particular focus on the usual suspects of terrorism and narco-trafficking (and the corruption of government it forments) as well as on the politics, political leaders and foreign entanglements of the nation. It is that latter intelligence objective (which goes down to the level of obtaining credit card numbers, fingerprints and DNA) that is likely to be particularly irritating to Latin American nations, given the U.S.’ long history of attempting extend its domain into the region.

The entire cable can be found at this link.

Below are excerpts of interest from the State Department cable

2008-03-24 18:06

This cable reports the results of a recent Washington review of reporting and collection needs for Paraguay. The review produced a list of priorities … intended to guide participating USG [U.S. government] agencies as they allocate resources and update plans to collect information on Paraguay.

… Please note that the [intelligence] community relies on State reporting officers for much of the biographical information collected worldwide. Informal biographic reporting by email and other means is vital to this effort.  When it is available, reporting officers should include as much of the following information as possible: office and organizational titles; names, position titles and other information on business cards; numbers of telephones, cell phones, pagers and faxes; compendia of contact information, such as telephone directories (in compact disc or electronic format if available) and e-mail listings; internet and intranet "handles", internet e-mail addresses, web site identification-URLs; credit card account numbers; frequent flyer account numbers; work schedules, and other relevant biographical information.

[Emphasis added. Note: Another State Department cable, dated July 31, 2009, dealing with data-collection objectives targeting the United Nations, states: The intelligence community relies on State reporting officers for much of the biographical information collected worldwide.]

… Priority issues and issues outline [entries below do not necessarily appear in the order in which they are presented in the actual cable]:

• Leading candidates and emerging leaders -- to include their views of, and plans for relations with, the United States, Venezuela, Cuba, and other Latin American nations — especially for the 2008 election.

• Information on financial or material support to candidates, parties, or interest groups from foreign governments, especially from Cuba or Venezuela; post-electoral aid commitments from foreign governments.

• Biographic and financial information on all leading contenders, and especially on Minister of Education Blanca Ovelar, former Vice President Castiglioni, Lino Oviedo, and Fernando Lugo; and biometric data, to include fingerprints, facial images, iris scans, and DNA, on these individuals. [Emphasis added.]

• Status of the government's relations with and views of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez and his domestic and foreign policies and actions; the Paraguayan government perspective on Venezuelan efforts to influence Paraguay's political process or leadership.

- Information on Paraguay's relationship with Cuba and the Paraguayan government perspective on Cuban activities and influence in Paraguay; Paraguay's policy on Cuba in international and regional fora and the Paraguayan leadership's views of the United States' Cuba policy.

- Student exchange programs and philanthropic activities in Paraguay sponsored by Cuba or Venezuela.

- Relations with Iran and information on Islamic facilities, including mosques, cultural centers, etc., supported by Iran.

- Information on other key bilateral international relationships, especially for China, Taiwan, and Russia.

• Information on communications practices of Paraguayan government and military leaders, key foreign officials in country (e.g., Cuban, Venezuelan, Bolivian, Iranian, or Chinese diplomats), and criminal entities or their surrogates, to include telephone and fax numbers and e-mail addresses, call activity (date, time, caller numbers, recipient numbers), phone books, cell phone numbers, telephone and fax user listings, internet protocol (IP) addresses, user accounts, and passwords.

• Details about organized crime groups, including leadership, links to government or foreign entities, drug and human trafficking and smuggling, kidnapping, counterfeiting, illicit arms trafficking, money laundering, connections to other international organized crime or terrorist groups, movement of organized crime into legitimate business structures, their locations, support structures and means of coordinating operations, with particular emphasis on their efforts to influence, suborn or corrupt government, law enforcement or security officials.

• Information on the involvement of government, military, or security services personnel in corrupt practices, including officials involved in narcotrafficking and arms smuggling, trafficking in persons, funds diversion, influence peddling, bribe solicitation, blackmail, fraud — especially of travel documents — and nepotism; the impact of government corruption on efforts to pursue, capture, and prosecute terrorists and the effect on popular confidence in the government.

- Details of corruption in government offices, particularly in the attorney general's office, the judiciary, and the customs service; status of any government efforts to combat corruption.

• Traffickers' subversion or coercion of political, economic and judicial officials and systems, including attempts to gain influence through campaign contributions; impact of corruption from drug traffickers on executive offices, legislatures, military and security organizations.

• Evidence of international organized crime, terrorist networks, drug producers, people smugglers, arms traffickers, government officials, military, and security services involvement in money laundering.

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