U.S. Embassies Actually Major Spy Hubs

Posted: November 20, 2012 in Covert Operations
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When most people think of embassies or consulates, they think of buildings that house peaceful diplomats who officially represent their home countries. In truth, however,many embassies should be renamed for what they really are: spy hubs.

By all means, the United States is no different than the Russians, Israelis or Chinese in that if given an opportunity they’ll attempt to pry sensitive data from the host country where their embassies are located.

On occasion, these spooks get caught crossing the line of what is acceptable trade-craft behavior.

In November 2010, for example, Norway’s TV2 asserted that U.S. personnel stationed at the U.S. embassy in Oslo conducted “illegal systematic surveillance of Norwegian citizens.”

Confirming these accusations, foreign correspondent Per Nyberg wrote on November 4, 2010: “The embassy hired former police officers and defense staff to take pictures and register people who behaved in a suspicious way.”

Months later, next-door in Sweden, the Swedish intelligence service, SAPO, made even stronger allegations that two U.S. embassy employees were engaged in “illegal, undercover investigations.” A daily newspaper, Svenska Dagbladetwrote with indignation, “Sweden has become the scene of a foreign power’s terror hunt without the knowledge of the Swedish government.”

Neither of these examples compare to a former black-bag operative named Enrique Prado.

In the June release of How to Get Away with Murder in America: Drug Lords, Dirty Pols, Obsessed Cops and the Quiet Man Who Became the CIA’s Master Killer, Evan Wright chronicled Prado’s exploits. They included involvement in Iran-Contra gunrunning, an espionage program targeting China, membership in a planned CIA secret assassinationunit and even moonlighting as a Miami-based Mafia hit man.

After leaving the agency, Prado remained in its tentacle-like network by finding employ with the notorious Blackwater outfit.

In a June 27 article for Wired magazine, Robert Beckhusen noted, “According to Wright, the CIA handed over its hit squad operation to Blackwater, now called Academi, as a way ‘to kill people with precision without getting caught.’ ”

U.S. Pays Big Bucks for Global Embassies

With the United States effectively bankrupt, taxpayers should be asking themselves just how much the U.S. shells out to house high-dollar diplomats around the globe.

According to the State Department, the U.S. annually spends $6.5B to maintain its 285 embassies, consulates and missions around the world. In addition, outlays for personnel and other staffing operations cost an estimated $4.5B.

To convey the breadth and reach of America’s global presence, Dave Seminara of The Washington Diplomat, an independent monthly newspaper, wrote on April 13: “The State Department is a huge player on the international real estate scene. It owns or leases facilities in 270 cities and 189 countries, and is absent only from North Korea, Iran and Somalia. Its real estate portfolio also includes more than 20K properties . . . with totalsquare footage of more than 80M.”

In the past dozen years the State Department has erected over 90 new diplomatic headquarters. One, in Ukraine, cost taxpayers $247M, while another in Morocco drained $187M from Uncle Sam’s coffers.

None of these embassies, though, compares to the $750M white elephant that the U.S. constructed in Baghdad following President George W. Bush’s war. As the largest embassy on Earth, this 104-acre behemoth boasts a movie theater, beauty parlors, food courts that make those inmost American malls pale by comparison, a fully operational sewage plant, tennis courts, a recreation center, swimming pool, plus over 600 blast-resistant apartments. Yet, as William Langewiesche of Vanity Fair magazine opined, “It may already be obsolete.”

Langewiesche, in his November 2007 article, noted how drastically our nation has changed over the past century in terms of foreign policy.

“America didn’t used to be like this,” he wrote. “Traditionally, it was so indifferent to setting up embassies that after its first 134 years of existence, in 1910, it owned diplomatic properties in only five countries abroad—Morocco, Turkey, Siam, China and Japan.”

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