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Leaked cable suggests American diplomats told to gather intelligence

By Kevin Conlon, CNN
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STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Cable: Clinton directed diplomats to ascertain names, addresses and credit card numbers
  • The cable was sent to 33 embassies and some U.N. mission offices
  • State Department denies diplomats were doing double duty
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(CNN) -- A 2009 cable sent from Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to American U.N. missions and embassies around the world ostensibly directed American diplomats to engage in intelligence-gathering.

The 8,358 word National Humint Collection Directive (Humint being Human Intelligence) "reflects the results of a recent Washington review of reporting and collection needs focused on the United Nations," according to the document made public by the whistle-blower website WikiLeaks Sunday.

The information Clinton directed the diplomats she oversees to ascertain ranged from basic biographical data such as diplomats' names and addresses to their frequent flyer and credit card numbers, to even "biometric information on ranking North Korean diplomats." Typical biometric information includes fingerprints, signatures, and iris recognition.

The cable, simply signed 'CLINTON', is classified S/NF - or 'Secret/No Foreign' - and was sent to 33 embassies and the U.N. mission offices in New York, Vienna, and Rome.

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In a Twitter posting Sunday evening, State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley denied that American diplomats were doing double duty as intelligence gatherers.

"Contrary to some #Wikileaks' reporting, our diplomats are diplomats. They are not intelligence assets," the tweet attributed to him said.

He further downplayed the cable's significance by writing in a separate tweet: "Diplomats collect information that shapes our policies and actions. Diplomats for all nations do the same thing."

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