The US National Security Agency is mounting a bugging offensive against UN delegations in order to gain "information that could give US policymakers an edge in obtaining results favorable to US goals or to head off surprises" in the Iraq debate. According to an email from one Frank Koza leaked in yesterday's Observer, UN Security Council members are prime targets, but paying attention to non-Security Council members "UN-related and domestic comms for anything useful related to the UNSC deliberations/debates/votes" is also important.
Which does sound awfully like bugging phones and opening mail. Helpfully, the targets are largely based in New York.
The Observer says it has confirmed that Koza holds a senior position in the NSA's Regional Targets section, and that the operation is being carried out at the behest of National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice. The email was sent to "both senior agents in his organisation and a friendly foreign intelligence agency."
And seeing it leaked, we can't help thinking Koza may now be revising his view that the offensive should not be directed against the delegation likely to be associated with that friendly foreign intelligence agency. The longer version of the story in the Observer's paper edition notes that once upon a time the NSA predecessor Signals Security Agency caused a huge scandal by bugging overseas delegations at the time of the UN's formation. But different days, different standards, we fear. ®