No reason to recap all of the wikileaks US State Department cables here, but some of this stuff is downright interesting.
Jeff Stein, author of the excellent SpyTalk blog at The Washington Post, featured a take on the revelation that the State Department issued a cable in July 2009 which, along with a lot of other items, asked diplomats to work to gather extensive contact information on United Nations officials. They are ordered to gather cell phone numbers, emails, addresses and other contact info. They are also asked to capture credit card numbers if possible.
So the question this raises — Is that their job?
I have been under illusion for years, since childhood really, that people at the State Department, Foreign Service and other diplomatic government entities have always performed basic spy duties. Isn’t that part of their job?
Several officials stated that this indeed is not their job. This goes well beyond the duties the should be asked to perform. Statements like these seem to me to be one thing — lies. State Department professionals are tasked with the same mission as anyone else in foreign service work. Their job is to collect information, interact with representatives of other nations, but always, always work to protect the interests of the United States.
Read the SpyTalk blog entry. And be sure to read down to the comments at the bottom. Seems like many current and former government employees call BS on those who say this type of work is outside the scope of the ordinary for State Department folks.