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WikiLeaks Releases U.S. Embassy
Shopping List, Further Exposing Surveillance By The Special Collection Service



By Aaron Kesel


The international whistleblowing organization,
WikiLeaks, has published a Christmas-themed searchable database of more
than 16,000 acquisition requests posted by United States embassies around the
world for various job listings, revealing covert activities like spying.


RELEASE:
The US Embassy Shopping List: 16,000 procurement requests posted by US
embassies around the world. LİNK : https://t.co/LN4MjTiHvS



Search the documents: LİNK : https://t.co/ecyLrZrJQD
pic.twitter.com/lOKXpp7uLl



WikiLeaks (@wikileaks) December
21, 2018


All U.S. embassies post requests for
quotations and job listings on their websites when they need to purchase goods
or services. In some cases, these requests may hint at covert activities
performed by US agencies in the country. For example, in an August 2018
procurement request for “Tactical
Spy Equipment
“, the US embassy in El Salvador asked vendors to provide 94
spy cameras, most disguised as everyday objects such as ties, caps, shirt
buttons, watches, USB drives, lighters, and pens. Similar spy
cameras were also requested
 by the US embassy in Colombia.


The majority of the procurement requests focus
on mundane activities required for the day-to-day operation of embassies and
consulates, such as construction
projects
laundry
service
, and gutter
cleaning
. In one case, the US consulate in Guayaquil, Ecuador lost track of
the number of fish in its fishpond and needed someone to count
the fish and clean the pond
. Interspersed among these banal requests are
documents that provide insight into the priorities and agenda of the US
Government abroad. For example, to promote trade interests in China, the US
consulate in Shanghai requested
the production
 of “three marketing and promotional videos that
highlight U.S. beef quality”.


Even the banal requests may be worth scrutiny
because numerous secret programmes are operated out of US embassies. WikiLeaks’
Vault 7 publications showed that the CIA’s Center for Cyber Intelligence runs a covert
hacking base out of the US consulate in Frankfurt
 and the documents disclosed
by Edward Snowden revealed that the NSA and CIA jointly operate a covert
signals intelligence programme called the Special Collection Service, which
uses US embassies around the world as bases for interception of communications
and clandestine operations. These procurement documents do not appear to
include details related directly to these programmes, but they do include
information about the actual
activities
 of the divisions used as cover for CIA programmes, note
which jobs require security clearance, and provide clues about the existence of
infrastructure that may be potentially useful to US intelligence services
operating abroad, such as the data center at
the Frankfurt consulate
.


While these procurement requests are public
information, they are only temporarily linked to from US embassy websites while
the request is open. But even after the links to the requests are removed, the
files remain online. This is because all US embassies use WordPress and the
procurement documents are stored in their WordPress uploads folder. So although
older procurement documents may not be obviously available, the WordPress
uploads can be searched via both the search function on the embassy’s website
and third-party search engines. The US Embassy Shopping List preserves
these requests and makes them more accessible by collecting the documents
uploaded to US embassy websites, filtering for the procurement-related files,
and presenting them in a searchable database.


Source: WikiLeaks


As the press release notes, while most of the
requests are “mundane” demands sent to U.S. embassies, others are an eye
opening look into the world of surveillance. This follows up after WikiLeaks’
previous release on Vault 7 where the publication showed that the CIA ran a
covert hacking center out of the U.S. consulate in Frankfurt, Germany.


The NSA and CIA jointly operate a covert
signals intelligence program called the Special Collection Service, which
utilizes U.S. embassies around the world as bases for interception of
communications and clandestine operations abroad, according to documents leaked
by Edward Snowden. Officially, the SCS program was established in the late 1970s during the Cold
War
 between the United States and the Soviet Union. Around that time,
SCS operatives reportedly hid eavesdropping devices in pigeons that were perched
on the windows of the Soviet Embassy in Washington, D.C. headquartered in
Beltsville, Maryland.


The SCS has been described as the United
States’ “Mission Impossible force.”  SCS is part of a larger global
surveillance program known as STATEROOM.


As WikiLeaks notes, “there are frequently data
centers or server rooms on US diplomatic premises around the world.”


The
normal technical teams operating out of embassies and consulates are sometimes
used as cover for intelligence operations. For example, the Regional
Information Management Center (RIMC) is used as cover for the CIA’s secret
hacking base at the Frankfurt consulate. pic.twitter.com/Pf6J09icjI



WikiLeaks (@wikileaks) December
24, 2018


According to the NSA documents, the “Special
Collection Service” (SCS) is operational in Berlin, among other locations. The
capabilities of the SCS include intercepting cellular signals, wireless
networks and satellite communication. This equipment is usually installed on
the upper floors of the embassies or on rooftops nearby where the technology is
covered with screens or blocked by structures so it’s not visible by the
general public or other countries.


This process of wiretapping from an embassy is
entirely illegal in nearly every country.


SCS teams predominantly work undercover in
protected areas of the American Embassy and Consulate, where they are
officially sanctioned as diplomats and as a result enjoy special privileges
given to representatives. Under diplomatic protection, they are able to then
listen to communications unhindered. They just can’t get caught, as is
evidenced with WikiLeaks’ Vault 7 release.


The secret list at the time by Snowden
revealed that SCS agents are active worldwide in approximately 80 locations, 19
of which are in Europe — such as Paris, Madrid, Rome, Prague, and even Geneva.
The SCS maintains two bases in Germany, one in Berlin and another in Frankfurt.
The Frankfurt base was exposed by WikiLeaks Vault 7 this year.


When it was reported and
revealed to the world, the U.S. faced a diplomatic scandal that it had tapped
German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s cellphone. Even The New York
Times
 ran an article discussing
that the U.S. was targeting enemies and allies alike with this surveillance
technology.


Now, WikiLeaks has given us a further glimpse
into the contractor deals going through these embassies involved with the SCS.
So far, WikiLeaks has highlighted that forensics devices were used to
extract data from cell phones and bypass passwords by these embassies, noting
in a tweet that the U.S. consulate in Frankfurt helped acquire forensics tools
for the embassies in Armenia and Montenegro. The organization also noted that
the files showed that the U.S. embassy in Panama sought licenses for
Cellebrite’s Universal Forensic Extraction Device (UFED) in order to extract
data from the phones of people detained or arrested in the country.


And
last year the US embassy in Panama sought licenses for Cellebrite’s

Universal Forensic Extraction Device (UFED) in order to extract data from the
phones of people detained or arrested in Panama.https://t.co/S0LiYpJfoq



More details in the Spy Files: https://t.co/Yliu8KzTUx
pic.twitter.com/HvxZlHQtKO



WikiLeaks (@wikileaks) December
22, 2018


WikiLeaks also brought attention to a
propaganda-esque video for U.S. beef quality after China lifted the ban on
American beef products.


In
August 2017 the US consulate in Shanghai commissioned “three marketing and
promotional videos that highlight U.S. beef quality” as part of its beef
propaganda campaign when China lifted the ban on American beef products.https://t.co/c9CRO1VIaO pic.twitter.com/NJD7VM0I39



WikiLeaks (@wikileaks) December
22, 2018


WikiLeaks has previously highlighted
propaganda used by the U.K. Parliament repeating the phrase “strong and stable”
over and over again for a hypnotic effect. The group also posted another
recruitment video for MISOC, a U.S. military psyops intelligence operation that
this writer previously highlighted in an article speculating
about the organization’s Vault 7 Media Ops release and what it may contain.
Thus far this has failed to come to fruition and may be the international
whistleblower coalition’s next forthcoming release.


PRE-RELEASE:
CIA Vault 7 Part B Media Ops [4GB zip] https://t.co/k9oqqXlrrB



WikiLeaks (@wikileaks) April
21, 2017


In
the UK, politicians test phrases then repeat them endlessly for hypnotic
effect. Example: “strong and stable” pic.twitter.com/w099hw8glS



WikiLeaks (@wikileaks) April
29, 2017


US
military PSYOPS recruiting advertisement (2013) https://t.co/6ffdk9wn9t



In WikiLeaks: https://t.co/40muLvxXH0



WikiLeaks (@wikileaks) April
29, 2017


WikiLeaks also previously pointed out that
“Western media produce endless fake news stories about China by exploiting
ignorance about the nature of its tabloids,” with a link to foreignpolicy.com
that states “Global Times doesn’t speak for China.”


Western media produce
endless fake news stories about China by exploiting ignorance about the nature
of its tabloids https://t.co/5NTSVT3eAj



WikiLeaks (@wikileaks) April
29, 2017


China has responded to the latest searchable
database release by demanding the U.S. explain to the international community
why  its overseas embassies had purchased spying equipment.


China on Monday urged the
United States to offer clear explanations to the international community about
why its overseas embassies had purchased spying equipment, as revealed by
WikiLeaks. https://t.co/KHlghNuOR9



China Plus News (@ChinaPlusNews) December
25, 2018


“Just a few days ago, the United States has
mustered several of its allies to accuse China of undermining cybersecurity of
the U.S. side over a long time,” Hua said. “The batch of documents made public
by WikiLeaks serves as proof that the U.S. side may have self-directed a drama
of blame-shifting again,” Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying said
referencing the Trump administration’s decision to charge Chinese citizens with
cyber crimes according to
a report by China
Plus
.


“The United States has carried out extensive
wiretapping and surveillance activities worldwide, including on its allies, as
revealed by the ‘Prism gate’ incident back in 2013,” Hua said. “The United
States owes the rest of the world an explanation about what happened five years
ago.”


“As for what has been recently revealed by
WikiLeaks, we urge the United States to offer clear explanations to the
international community.”


As mentioned, WikiLeaks’ release of the
database comes just after the U.S. charged two Chinese citizens — Zhu Hua and
Zhang Shilong — with damage to at least 45 U.S. tech companies and government
agencies.


Prosecutors also directly accused the
two of operating in agreement with the Chinese government.


The WikiLeaks U.S. Embassy shopping list, in
other words, exposes the blunt end of hypocrisy. While the U.S. will charge two
Chinese citizens with cyber crimes, the SCS is involved in the same types of
crimes that prosecutors are prosecuting. For the fully searchable database,
which is only just scratching the surface in this article, you can check out
the WikiLeaks website here.


WikiLeaks founder and former editor in chief
Julian Assange is still suffering in the embassy, last seen by doctors before
Christmas. Unity4J is holding historic vigils, 8 p.m. – 11 p.m. EST every
Friday. Stand in solidarity with Julian Assange and help make and shape
history.


It’s important to note as all this unfolds
that WikiLeaks recently announced that one of Assange’s longtime
associates, Kristin Hrafnsson, took over for him as WikiLeaks’ editor in chief.


For up-to-date accurate information on Julian
Assange’s plight, see @Wikileaks@AssangeMrs, and @Unity4J  and Assange’s lawyer
Twitter accounts most notably — @AssangeLegal. The
website Unity4J will be up to date
with information, live streams, and places where protests will be held in
support of Julian Assange.


Aaron Kesel writes for Activist
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