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WikiLeaks Staff, 5 December 2010, 21.00 GMT
US diplomats were asked to secretly gather intelligence on the status – and vulnerabilities – of critical infrastructure and key resources in their host countries, new material from the Embassy Cables has revealed.
The cable, sent on the 18 February 2009 and released by WikiLeaks today, contains the first version of the Critical Foreign Dependencies Initiative “Critical Infrastructure & Key Resources” list. It contains all overseas sites considered to be of critical importance to the US government. It details a long list of often obscure facilities around the world that the US perceives to be vital inputs to its operations, with a particular focus on war-fighting.
Facilities such as the Nadym Gas Pipeline Junction in Russia are included, described as “the most critical gas facility in the world”. MacTaggart Scott in Scotland is listed as “critical to the Ship Submersible Nuclear” while Yemen’s Bab al-Mendeb is a “critical supply chain node”.
Embassy staff are asked to provide basic information on any facilities they feel should be added to the list, in addition to “any information Post has regarding conditions in country causing Post to believe the CI/KR [Critical Infrastructure / Key Resources] is an active target or especially vulnerable due to natural circumstances”. In a further blow to State department denials that its embassy officials participate in intelligence-gathering activities, the cable notes “posts are not being asked to consult with host governments with respect to this request.”
The cable containing the Qatari Embassy’s response to this request, sent on 26 March 2009, shows the detailed information and attention paid to the sites on this list. It also provides evidence of the measures the US is taking to secure such overseas facilities, including offering aid or grants, or promoting the use of US services and technology in security measures. The document, while marked “SECRET//NOFORN”, was placed on SIPRNet, a classified network accessible by an estimated 2.5 million civilian, military and private sector employees.
WikiLeaks spokesman Kristinn Hrafnsson said:
“The latest release from the Embassy Cables reveals US embassies were asked to gather information on key infrastructure and resources without the knowledge of, or consultation with, their host governments.
“This further undermines claims made by the US government that its embassy officials do not play an intelligence gathering role.
“In terms of security issues, while this cable details the strategic importance of assets across the world, it does not give any information as to their exact locations, security measures, vulnerabilities or any similar factors – though it does reveal the US asked its diplomats to report back on these matters.
“This leaked cable was, like the rest of the Embassy Cables, available to 2.5 million people, including civilian, military and private sector personnel – a very wide distribution for information claimed to be of such high sensitivity, and relating to so many foreign governments”.
See the full list: http://wikileaks.ch/cable/2009/02/0...
WikiLeaks Staff, 8 December 2010, 14.00 GMT
Visa and Mastercard both received lobbying support from the Department of State under President Obama, the latest Cablegate release reveals.
A cable from the Moscow embassy, dated 1st February 2010, details a new Russian card processing law which the embassy said would “disadvantage U.S businesses”, and urged senior US officials to take action. (click here).
“This draft law continues to disadvantage U.S. payment card market leaders Visa and MasterCard, whether they join the National Payment Card System or not,” it said.
Russia was considering whether to implement a new system of card payments (called NPCS), which would create a new payment processor run by Russia’s state banks. This would then handle all processing for domestic banking in the country.
“The fees for these services are estimated at Rb 120 billion ($4 billion) annually...the vast majority of Visa’s business in Russia is done with cards issued and used in Russia; with earnings from processing going to NPCS, Visa would no longer profit from these transactions.”
When discussing possible causes of the restrictive legislation, a senior Visa employee in the country told embassy officials he believed the move was due to Russian suspicions that Visa and Mastercard passed information to the US government.
“[Redacted] believes that, at least at the Deputy Minister level, MinFin’s hands are tied. Implying that Russian security services were behind this decision, [redacted] said, ‘There is some se-cret (government) order that no one has seen, but everyone has to abide by it." “As described reftel, credit card company and bank representatives have told us that GOR (government of Russia) officials apparently assume that US payment systems routinely share data associated with payment transactions by Russian cardholders with intelligence services in the US and elsewhere.”
The embassy’s economic officer, Matthias Mitman, concluded his cable by calling for action.
“While the draft legislation has yet to be submitted to the Duma and can still be amended, post will continue to raise our concerns with senior GOR officials,” he said.
“We recommend that senior USG officials also take advantage of meetings with their Russian counterparts, including through the Bilateral Presidential Commission, to press the GOR to change the draft text to ensure U.S. payment companies are not adversely affected.”