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what did the US want to know about telecommunication infrastructure in Paraguay? and why?

November 29, 2010

What did US Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice want to know about Paraguay’s telecommunication systems?

Just about everything you’d need to data mine and otherwise monitor their entire national security apparatus.

“Information Infrastructure and Telecommunications” is one of five “priority issues” within the National Intelligence Priorities Framework (NIPF). A March 24, 2008 cable from Washington DC to the US embassy in Asunción, recently made available on WikiLeaks, included the following items among its broad request for information:

¶E.  Information Infrastructure and Telecommunications (INFR-4)

  • Details of telecommunications and information systems, networks, and technologies supporting Paraguayan national leadership, military, foreign intelligence and security services (FISS), and civil sector communications.
  • Define Paraguayan wireless infrastructure, cellular provider information, and makes/models of cellular phones and their operating systems.
  • Define Paraguayan satellite communications infrastructure, to include VSAT networks and use of point to point systems.
  • Information on communications practices of Paraguayan government and military leaders, key foreign officials in country (e.g., Cuban, Venezuelan, Bolivian, Iranian, or Chinese diplomats), and criminal entities or their surrogates, to include telephone and fax numbers and e-mail addresses, call activity (date, time, caller numbers, recipient numbers), phone books, cell phone numbers, telephone and fax user listings, internet protocol (IP) addresses, user accounts, and passwords.
  • Identify national and supranational telecommunications regulatory, administrative, and maintenance organizations.
  • Identify scope of Paraguayan telecommunications encryption efforts, details on the use of and efforts to acquire modern telecom technologies, regional and national telecommunications policies, programs and regulations.
  • Details on information repositories associated with RFID enabled systems increasingly used for passports, government badges, and transportation system.


2 Comments leave one →
  1. Sean permalink
    December 7, 2010 2:45 pm

    Okay so where is the answer to why??? Sounds to me like they are researching how to manipulate them to get whatever it is that they want. Like access to their water supply in exchange for technology.

  2. December 7, 2010 9:56 pm

    I’ll tender two possible answers, Sean:

    1) the US government is specifically interested in gaining access to Paraguay’s telecom networks in order to assess and monitor organized crime, especially where it involves designated “terrorist” organizations, in the tri-border area shared with Argentina and Brazil; cf. here and here

    2) the US government generally seeks to create and maintain a robust and thorough database of intelligence information on all other states (or as many as possible) in order to monitor foreign decision-making and otherwise “defend” US “interests” in any given situation [akin to asking diplomats for a laundry list of biographic and biometric information on all UN special rapporteurs]

    The latter, I suppose, is more or less tantamount to “researching how to manipulate them to get whatever it is that they want”. That said, given the distance and Paraguay’s lack of sea access, it doesn’t seem like the first place the US would think of in terms of securing water rights.

    There has, however, been some speculation about GW Bush (for whom Rice was working when she sent the above cable) and other conservatives buying land in Paraguay that would provide access to a major aquifer and significant natural gas reserves. If there’s any truth to that, I don’t know, but it sounds more like a personal investment than an element of US strategic policy. Maybe Condy was just trying to make sure George didn’t get a bum deal?

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