Thursday Morning Reads

good morning!!!

In an interesting on-and-off again policy, the Obama administration  announced an offshore drilling ban. This has heads spinning down here in the Gulf.

“We are adjusting our strategy in areas where there are no active leases,” Salazar told reporters in a phone call, adding that the administration has decided “not expand to new areas at this time” and instead “focus and expand our critical resources on areas that are currently active” when it comes to oil and gas drilling.

In March–less than a month before the BP oil spill–Obama and Salazar said they would open up the eastern Gulf and parts of the Atlantic, including off the coast of Virginia, to offshore oil and gas exploration. On both of those new areas, the administration said it would start scoping to see if oil and gas drilling would be suitable. The eastern Gulf remains closed to drilling under a congressional moratorium, but the White House indicated it would press to lift the moratorium if necessary.

Wednesday’s announcement is sure to please environmentalists while angering oil and gas companies as well as some lawmakers from both parties who have pressed for continued offshore energy exploration in the wake of massive Gulf of Mexico spill.

While the Democratic administration pleases environmentalists with the ban, Agent Orange probably has them unhappy with this move.

Created in 2007 by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) to draw attention to the causes and effects of climate change, the committee didn’t have much of a chance to survive the upcoming Republican takeover. Wednesday, the axe fell.

“We have pledged to save taxpayers’ money by reducing waste and duplication in Congress,” said Michael Steel, spokesman for incoming Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio). “The Select Committee on Global Warming – which was created to provide a political forum to promote Washington Democrats’ job-killing national energy tax – was a clear example, and it will not continue in the 112th Congress.”

With the end in sight, Committee Chairman Ed Markey (D-Mass.) organized what was billed as an “all-star” cast of witnesses to testify Wednesday on the dangers posed by climate change.

If you’d like to see what the government considers ‘no oil left’ in the Gulf, here’s a good place to start.  The blog The Gulf Oil Project, has some brand new photos up today. I see oil; lots of it.

The longtime residents of Perdido Beach are angry and frustrated; others just bury their heads in the sand and pray BP will go away.  In Gulf shore sands stretching from Louisiana to Florida amphipods are hopping mad, isopods are flatly frustrated and mobile-home dragging hermit crabs are conspicuously absent this winter.  They are just a few of the local folks that share theses beaches; make it what it is, and have become collateral damage in the war in the Gulf.

The normally tranquil beaches of the Gulf barrier islands are the kind of idyllic place where northerners flock by the thousands in winter.  They have been coming here for generations – Sanderlings and Sandpipers from the Arctic, Turnstones from Maine, Plovers from Hudson Bay, Willets from the central grasslands – all have seen there seasonal beaches turned into a battle field; a mechanical minefield for those that work the tide-line for their very lives.

Robert Fisk looks at the diplomatic cables and into U.S. attitudes towards the Middle East in this provocative piece in The Independent.

It’s not that US diplomats don’t understand the Middle East; it’s just that they’ve lost all sight of injustice. Vast amounts of diplomatic literature prove that the mainstay of Washington’s Middle East policy is alignment with Israel, that its principal aim is to encourage the Arabs to join the American-Israeli alliance against Iran, that the compass point of US policy over years and years is the need to tame/bully/crush/oppress/ ultimately destroy the power of Iran.

There is virtually no talk (so far, at least) of illegal Jewish colonial settlements on the West Bank, of Israeli “outposts”, of extremist Israeli “settlers” whose homes now smallpox the occupied Palestinian West Bank – of the vast illegal system of land theft which lies at the heart of the Israeli-Palestinian war. And incredibly, all kinds of worthy US diplomats grovel and kneel before Israel’s demands – many of them apparently fervent supporters of Israel – as Mossad bosses and Israel military intelligence agents read their wish-list to their benefactors.

He goes through a lot of the best cables from the region so you don’t have to.  There’s some other news from the middle east.  The first of a group of soldiers accused of  killing of Afghans–for sport–has been sentenced.  I’m kind’ve speechless here on the sentence but, maybe I’m missing something.

The first soldier to face a court martial in connection with alleged sport killings of Afghan citizens pleaded guilty to four of five charges against him Wednesday and was sentenced to nine months in military confinement.

Staff Sgt. Robert G. Stevens was also reduced in rank to private — the lowest grade in the Army — and ordered to forfeit all pay and allowances during his imprisonment.

The investigating officer, Lt. Col. Kwasi Hawks, accepted Stevens’ plea and imposed sentence Wednesday night.

Stevens had asked the court to allow him to stay in the Army; the prosecution had asked for a dishonorable discharge.

Stevens is one of seven soldiers “facing charges of serious misconduct while deployed in Afghanistan,” the Army said in a statement.

The Catfood Commission report has got seven vote of confidence now. Senate Budget Committee Chairman Kent Conrad (D-N.D.) and retiring ranking Republican Sen. Judd Gregg (N.H.) said they would  back the proposal.  Getting it any where still appears to be a long shot, but they are trying.

To appeal to Democrats on the commission, the chairmen eliminated a provision that converted the federal share of Medicaid payments to a block grant. This would have prevented federal spending from increasing alongside rising Medicaid costs.

The new proposal also does more to spur on the short-term economic recovery by proposing $22 billion less in domestic spending cuts in 2013.

In a nod to Republicans, the chairmen proposed a temporary payroll tax holiday.

But the chairmen also retained a number of politically unpalatable provisions, including the proposed elimination of popular tax provisions like the mortgage interest tax break. They also kept a proposal to reduce Social Security benefits by gradually raising the retirement age to 68 by 2050 and to 69 by 2075.

The WSJ reports that the Bush Tax Cuts will likely be extended temporarily. There’s a lot of cyber ink being written on this topic.  It appears to be the Republican Rubicon.

…conversations, described as preliminary, have taken place over the past few weeks. They have considered short-term extensions of a number of business and individual tax provisions that are expired or expiring, such as a popular research credit and middle-class protection from the alternative minimum tax. A likely outcome includes a one- to three-year extension of the Bush-era income tax rates and a two-year extension of the business provisions, according to aides. The package could include Democratic priorities such as extension of tax breaks that benefit the working poor, as well as further extension of unemployment benefits for the long-term jobless.

An agreement on temporary extension of all the current rates and breaks would represent a breakthrough after months of partisan infighting. It would signal lawmakers’ intent to avoid the public outrage that could result if the two sides failed to reach a tax deal this month. Many retailers and economists worry that the tax increase could tamp down household spending and further weaken employment and the fragile recovery.

Underscoring that risk, the commissioner of the Internal Revenue Service, Douglas Shulman, sent a letter to lawmakers on Wednesday, warning that postponing extension of some breaks, such as a measure to diminish the bite of the alternative minimum tax, could be “extremely detrimental” and risk significantly delaying refunds.

The CSM reports that any extension of unemployment benefits will be held hostage until the Republican give rich people their tax cuts.

Efforts in the Senate to extend the unemployment benefits were trapped in a procedural wrangle and never allowed on the floor for consideration. It fell to Sen. Scott Brown (R) of Massachusetts to object on behalf of the Republican Party to one proposed measure that required unanimous consent to move to the floor.

“We are in the midst of a historic economic crisis. I realize that,” he said. But to avoid ”burdening future generations,” the $56.4 billion measure must be offset with cuts elsewhere, he said. Senator Brown proposed tapping unspent federal dollars in other programs, such as the 2009 Obama stimulus plan.

Senator Reed objected, noting that the Republican plan to permanently extend the Bush tax cuts gives the wealthiest Americans a $700 billion tax cut that is also not offset – and, unlike the employment benefit, would not expire.

I can’t put the video here, but I can link to it.  The Economist interviewed my economist hero Joseph Stiglitz over a hot cuppa. Stiglitz says were a ‘long way’ from back to normal and has concerns that we may have a very inadequate new normal.  He doesn’t think unemployment will come down any time soon.  He sees 5-10 years of a “Japanese-style malaise” especially because of austerity cuts being suggested by policy makers.  He labels this “fiscal madness”.  Stiglitz also says that “banks are undermining the rule of law in America” and that “bad mortgages still fester”.   You’ll notice he’s not blaming the FED because that’s a red herring.

As you may know, I’m not much for TV.  But, I may try to watch ‘The Kennedy Detail’ series starting on the Discovery Channel. The program features interviews with JFK and Jackie Kennedy’s secret service detail.   It’s based on the book by Gerald Blaine.

Well, that’s enough from me this morning.

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?

49 Comments on “Thursday Morning Reads”

  1. Zaladonis says:

    David Corn gratuitously adding Hillary Clinton at the very last line notwithstanding …

    Obama and GOPers Worked Together to Kill Bush Torture Probe

    In its first months in office, the Obama administration sought to protect Bush administration officials facing criminal investigation overseas for their involvement in establishing policies the that governed interrogations of detained terrorist suspects. A “confidential” April 17, 2009, cable sent from the US embassy in Madrid to the State Department—one of the 251,287 cables obtained by WikiLeaks—details how the Obama administration, working with Republicans, leaned on Spain to derail this potential prosecution. …

    • Woman Voter says:

      So, where was Nancy Pelosi? So, they do work together when it is to protect their base and the Bush Administration. Good grief, will they ever go back to caring about ‘a democracy driven society and rights of citizens’?

    • bostonboomer says:

      Color me unsuprised but disgusted.

      • Woman Voter says:

        Spies, WikiLeaks & 2012: Putin Live on Larry King

        • Woman Voter says:

          Russian PM Vladimir Putin with Larry King (longer clip of interview)

          • Woman Voter says:

            Did some high up person leak the information to WikiLeaks to avert a NEW ARMS RACE, as this interview clip suggests? Why is Nobel Peace Price President Obama not doing the ‘diplomatic’ stitch and doing talks? Is that why Assange is in London, because the direct hits of this going South would be in that area?

            So many questions… So, there are two issues, the NATO Russian problem, and Iran possibly having missiles via North Korea. (((yikes)))

            Where is Beyond War when you need them…

          • cwaltz says:

            I guess it never crossed anyone’s mind when they were labeling groups “axis of evil” that some of them might band together.


            Gotta love our foreign policy it’s long on rhethoric and short on foresight.

    • Woman Voter says:

      Alexander Cockburn: How the US press have colluded with government in their fury at the WikiLeaks founder
      By Alexander Cockburn
      LAST UPDATED 7:51 AM, DECEMBER 2, 2010

      The American airwaves quiver with the screams of parlour assassins howling for Julian Assange’s head. Jonah Goldberg, contributor to the National Review, asks in his syndicated column, “Why wasn’t Assange garroted in his hotel room years ago?” Sarah Palin wants him hunted down and brought to justice, saying: “He is an anti-American operative with blood on his hands.”

      Assange can survive these theatrical blusters. A tougher question is how he will fare at the hands of the US government, which is hopping mad. The US attorney general, Eric Holder, announced on Monday that the Justice Department and Pentagon are conducting “an active, ongoing criminal investigation” into the latest Assange-facilitated leak under Washington’s Espionage Act.

      Asked how the US could prosecute Assange, a non-US citizen, Holder said, “Let me be clear. This is not sabre-rattling,” and vowed “to swiftly close the gaps in current US legislation…”

      In other words the espionage statute is being rewritten to target Assange, and in short order, if not already, President Obama – who as a candidate pledged “transparency” in government – will sign an order okaying the seizing of Assange and his transport into the US jurisdiction. Render first, fight the habeas corpus lawsuits later.

      Interpol, the investigative arm of the International Criminal Court at The Hague, has issued a fugitive notice for Assange. He’s wanted in Sweden for questioning in two alleged sexual assaults, one of which seems to boil down to a charge of unsafe sex and failure to phone his date the following day.

      This prime accuser, Anna Ardin has, according to the journalist Israel Shamir, writing on the CounterPunch site, “ties to the US-financed anti-Castro and anti-communist groups. She published her anti-Castro diatribes in the Swedish-language publication Revista de Asignaturas Cubanas put out by Misceláneas de Cuba…Note that Ardin was deported from Cuba for subversive activities.”

      It’s certainly not conspiracism to suspect that the CIA has been at work in fomenting these Swedish accusations. As Shamir reports, “The moment Julian sought the protection of Swedish media law, the CIA immediately threatened to discontinue intelligence sharing with SEPO, the Swedish Secret Service.”


      You will need to put the phone down to read this one. 😯 The spy business is serious business.

  2. Zaladonis says:

    The Stiglitz interview is very disappointing.

    I take issue with him characterizing Obama’s stimulus as a success. He says because it kept unemployment at 10% rather than 12 or 13%, that makes it successful. Rubbish. That’s only a success if 10% was the goal or if 10% is good or if elements of the Stimulus created an environment in which the economy were growing healthily out of 10%, or if alongside the Stimulus there’s was a Stimulus Part II planned and a strategy for passing it. But the truth is unemployment is clearly becoming more entrenched; and quite frankly no matter what “most economists agree” about, there really is no evidence that unemployment would have ended up higher without the stimulus. I think the phrase “most economists agree” should be stricken from any serious assertion because “most economists” did not see the economic crisis coming and most economists did not fight strenuously against Obama’s stimulus or his failure to implement aggressive financial regulations early in his first year when banks would have accepted anything, so “most economists agree” is, IMO, a lot less valuable than a well formed independent analysis.

    Secondly, his analysis of the mortgage situation is dated. It’s not 2009. Like a disease improperly treated, the problems have spread. For instance as terrible as bad-mortgages and foreclosures remain, the problem is no longer only the people who are underwater, it’s spread to those of us who did not overextend, did not cash out inflated equity, have paid our bills on time. Failing to recognize that as needing attention just as much as borrowers who are underwater is very short-sighted and is what will lead to this economy deteriorating further rather than recovering in five to ten years as he predicts.

  3. Pips says:

    Re Kennedy, I recently watched a documentary about Jackie Kennedy focused on her life with John F. Though I knew most of the footage, and never viewed it that way before, this time around I kept thinking, “What a total ass he was towards her!” More or less permanently ignoring her.

    She looked very happy though, so what do I know. After all it was the 50-60s, more than half a century ago, so …

  4. HT says:

    Gas jumped 4 cents per liter this morning – that’s about 10c per your gallon. I wondered why – I guess it was the announcement about the drilling ban.

  5. Minkoff Minx says:

    Morning all, and thanks Dak for the heads up on the Kennedy documentary…

    Well, with this latest release of cables I have been reading a lot regarding the Russian/Georgia/South Ossetia matter. (Having relatives who live in South Ossetia heightens my interest.)

    US embassy cables: Russia ‘armed’ separatist rebels ahead of Georgia war

    Russia supplied separatist forces in South Ossetia and Abkhazia with weapons in the lead-up to the Georgian attack on South Ossetia in August 2008, U.S. diplomatic cables published by the WikiLeaks website allege.

    • Woman Voter says:

      Last night I was watching Putin (and arguing with my friend’s partner, former Army guy) on Larry King, preemptive media tour pre-WikiLeaks Russia Leaks and boy was it interesting. Any one else watch it?

      Putin came off well and was saying that WikiLeaks was being led astray by the person(s) doing the leaks 😯 . Yea, right, so don’t take the Russian leaks seriously… I personally think Putin was out to quell the statement via the US that the RUSSIANS had ways of handling Assange that the US wouldn’t employ. Hemmm…

      Assange is in a tight spot, as even the Canadian former government member is asking that Obama Assassinate him. Here is Jennifer Robinson, Assange’s British Attorney addressing the calls for assassination and the Swedish warrant for the alleged sex crimes:
      Democracy Now

  6. bostonboomer says:

    Kitties! Yay!

  7. bostonboomer says:

    Fed wants to strip a key protection for homeowners

    As Americans continue to lose their homes in record numbers, the Federal Reserve is considering making it much harder for homeowners to stop foreclosures and escape predatory home loans with onerous terms.

    The Fed’s proposal to amend a 42-year-old provision of the federal Truth in Lending Act has angered labor, civil rights and consumer advocacy groups along with a slew of foreclosure defense attorneys.

    They’re not only asking the Fed to withdraw the proposal, they also want any future changes to the law to be handled by the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, which begins its work next year.

    In a letter to the Fed’s Board of Governors, dozens of groups that oppose the measure, including the National Consumer Law Center, the NAACP and the Service Employees International Union, say the proposal is bad medicine at the wrong time.

    • cwaltz says:

      That’s screwed up. I can’t even begin to understand why the Fed would want to loosen regulatory control at a time when there has been so many problems with lending.

    • Zaladonis says:

      I can’t believe that!

      Why not just hang a sign at the White House entrance: “We Love Smarmy Bankers and We’re Going to Help Them Screw Every Last One of You.”

      • cwaltz says:

        Fed isn’t in the WH. Apparently Timmeh, Larry and Ben have been talking and feel it’s in the best interest of the nation if we get rid of all the pesky rules and any notion that consumers have rights.

        • Zaladonis says:

          I know the Fed isn’t in the WH. I also know these decisions aren’t made unless the President approves. My point is the current administration’s policies.

          “The Buck Stops Here” didn’t refer only to what happens within, literally, the walls of the White House.

          • cwaltz says:

            I don’t believe the Fed and the WH are supposed to be colluding and they certainly don’t seem to be on stimulating the economy. They seem to be of 2 different philosophies on that.

            I’d love to hear what dak believes the rationale for the Fed doing this is. I can’t think of anything other than this being a way to ram through something that negates all of the problems from Fraudclosure.

          • Zaladonis says:

            Funny, I think the Fed and the WH are operating from the same philosophy — more power to the banks and wealthy, fewer protections for consumers and less help to the vulnerable.

            And I also think Bernanke and Geithner are totally in cahoots.

          • cwaltz says:

            The Fed has been attempting to drive up demand. The WH not so much. They’ve pretty much flung their hands up in the air and called this our new normal. Bernanke has done all but beg them to apply more stimulus even going so far as to say QE will probably not be enough to save us from a double dip.

            As far the regulation portion goes I’d be hard pressed to hear his rationale considering the problem with lending has been lax standards not rigidity. The last thing the yoyos at the banks need to hear is we’re going to TRUST that you’re explaining the terms of the loan adequately. It’s a poor move. Again, I’d love to hear dak’s take because her experience might give her insight into this. As it stands right now it seems like the Fed may be looking to toss consumers under the bus in an attempt to get housing moving again.

          • cwaltz says:

            The Fed, while appointed by the President, is an independant arm for the economy. His policies are not the Presidents, nor vice versa.

          • Zaladonis says:

            The Fed, while appointed by the President, is an independant arm for the economy. His policies are not the Presidents, nor vice versa.

            Oh, okey dokey.

            I forgot Washington functions the way it’s supposed to and it’s working the way they tell us it is.

          • cwaltz says:

            “I forgot Washington functions the way it’s supposed to and it’s working the way they tell us it is.”

            I haven’t seen any evidence prior to this to support the position that the Fed is not operating independantly. I like facts. It’s how I roll.

          • Zaladonis says:

            I like facts too. I use facts along with my intuition, years of experience and common sense to analyze situations.

            I do not trust Barack Obama, Geithner or Bernanke. In fact I think they’re about as untrustworthy as men can be, and I also think they believe they know what’s best and believe they have an obligation to act in accordance with their superior thinking regardless of rules and regulations and laws. I think Bush & Co were the same way. And IMO it’s not by chance that Obama chose to keep Bernanke from the Bush regime.

    • Zaladonis says:

      Love it.

      As a former friend told me about America today: you’re either a scammer or a sucker. (Guess which one I was.)

  8. Pat Johnson says:

    Anyone remember “The Grapes of Wrath”? Appears to be happening all over again.

  9. Woman Voter says:

    I gotta go, the plumber is going to be here after ten… 😆 THE REAL PLUMBER! 😆 Still working on fixing the second bathroom after many hits and misses…by little Ole me. 😯 With a permit of course. I passed the rough inspection and crossing fingers on the final.

  10. paper doll says:

    US Congress slams door on the unemployed

    ……As is often the case, there is a certain division of labor between the two parties of big business on this issue. Republicans evince unconcealed contempt for the unemployed. Asked recently by a reporter to square his party’s call for tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans with the elimination of unemployment benefits for the poorest—when the latter stimulates the economy far more effectively at far less cost—Rep. John Shaddeg of Arizona responded mockingly, “Unemployed people hire people? Really? I didn’t know that.”
    For their part, Obama and the Democrats—who still control both houses of Congress—have responded with palpable indifference, along with their usual admixture of cowardice and dishonesty. Their line from the beginning has been based on the lie that benefits cannot be extended without Republican support, which they know full well is not forthcoming….

    I haven’t noticed the wealthly hiring too much lately Johnny boy

    • cwaltz says:

      The tax cuts have been in place for 10 years now but I’m sure all they need is a little more time and they’ll be gainfully employing the 9.6% not working and the other 8% that is underemployed. ;)/s

  11. Minkoff Minx says:

    Hey, I got to give Kudos to Dak…for posting that “Oodles and Oodles” bailouts yesterday. You beat the big boys, as far as letting us know what was hitting the fan. Thank you!

    Fed aid in financial crisis went beyond U.S. banks to industry, foreign firms

    “The financial crisis stretched even farther across the economy than many had realized, as new disclosures show the Federal Reserve rushed trillions of dollars in emergency aid not just to Wall Street but also to motorcycle makers, telecom firms and foreign-owned banks in 2008 and 2009.”

  12. salmonrising says:

    This am while Amy Goodman was interviewing Julian Assange’s lawyer I had a deja vu.

    Josh Whedon, in addition to creating “Buffy” and other hits, produced a one season show called “Firefly” which was sorta a combination space fantasy action western and slapstick comedy set in a world where Chinese and English were spoken interchangeably. Fans, if not the studio, loved it, so after the series was not renewed it was resurrected in a movie entitled “Serenity”.

    The plot of this film centered around a ‘leak’ of damning information and the empire du jour’s attempt to stop that leak from going public. In the film there was a character called “Mr. Universe” who could hack into any ‘secure’ server but, more importantly, could broadcast said dirty laundry to the universe. His tagline? “You Can’t Stop the Message”.

    The whole Wikileaks phenomenon reminds me a bit of that film. It’s a hoot so rent it if you haven’t seen it.

  13. Boo Radly says:

    Kudos to Dak indeed – wealth of info she provides(kittehs too). I am simple minded – while I read 5 – 10 books a week for 3 decades on politicians, cultural affairs, multiple other subjects, really did not get into finance(money makes the world go round). I was in denial for so many years.

    Jon Stewart said “it’s not the end of the world” at his sanity rally. He’s a comedian. I identify with the little people of this world. I abhor the attitude of so many exceptionally wealthy people. They along with our present politicians are so inured to greed – they are blind. With the ‘selection’ of Bu$h – aided by his brother and SCOTUS openly and this past ‘selection’ of Obumbles(death of the D party – no coverup really) – it is the end of any equitable treatment of those in the middle and lower classes. I can’t muster a chuckle.

    “Did some high up person leak the information to WikiLeaks to avert a NEW ARMS RACE, as this interview clip suggests?” That doesn’t seem possible but there is a reason for the leaks. NEW ARMS RACE = $$$$. Best-est and fastest, tried and true method – history repeats. What’s a few peasant deaths. It’s breathe taking the speed with which we are devolving. Some times the simple explanation is right. I sense JA has a bit of an ego – hope he is careful as he does not deserve to be killed from what I can see. An American president has okayed assassination – a complete unknown – has no grasp of history, is in control. Hollywood has his back. Scared yet?

    • Woman Voter says:

      Yup, especially since Noble Peace Price President Obama went to court to say he doesn’t have to produce the list, nor how a person gets onto the list nor if there is an assassination list. I wonder when will be forum discussions will be outlawed?

      Assange is probably ‘safer’ in London since it he is part of the common wealth, but if his ego hasn’t come into check by now, I would be surprised. The comment of ‘crushing B$@^%$^@’ really did him in, and that one film footage has been used in many stories since his utterance of it and he must have had some humble pie by now.

  14. Woman Voter says:

    Nigeria to charge Dick Cheney in $180 million bribery case, issue Interpol arrest warrant

    Am I shocked!?! YES!

  15. Woman Voter says:

    TheOnion| #JulianAssange Fired From #IT Job At #Pentagon


    You have to read this one.

  16. Woman Voter says:

    WikiLeaks cables: CIA drew up UN spying wishlist for diplomats

    • Agency identified priorities for information on UN leaders
    • Cables reveal further evidence of intelligence gathering

    * News
    * World news
    * The US embassy cables

    The US embassy cables
    WikiLeaks cables: CIA drew up UN spying wishlist for diplomats

    • Agency identified priorities for information on UN leaders
    • Cables reveal further evidence of intelligence gathering

    * Ewen MacAskill and Robert Booth
    *, Thursday 2 December 2010 19.44 GMT
    * Article history

    Central Intelligence Agency HQ in Langley, Virginia. WikiLeaks cables show the Central Intelligence drew up information wishlist. Photograph: Getty Images

    The US state department’s wishlist of information about the United Nations secretary-general, Ban Ki-moon, and other senior members of his organisation was drawn up by the CIA, the Guardian has learned.

    The disclosure comes as new information emerged about Washington’s intelligence gathering on foreign diplomats, including surveillance of the telephone and internet use of Iranian and Chinese diplomats.

    One of the most embarrassing revelations to emerge from US diplomatic cables obtained by the whistleblowers’ website WikiLeaks has been that US diplomats were asked to gather intelligence on Ban, other senior UN staff, security council members and other foreign diplomats – a possible violation of international law.

    US state department spokesman PJ Crowley, in interviews since the release, has tried to deflect criticism by repeatedly hinting that although the cables were signed by secretary of state, Hillary Clinton, and her predecessor, Condoleezza Rice, they originated with another agency. But he refused to identify it.

    The Guardian has learned that the intelligence shopping list is drawn up annually by the manager of Humint (human intelligence), a post created by the Bush administration in 2005 in a push to better co-ordinate intelligence after 9/11.

    OK, so it’s OfficialHillary R. Clinton is NOT a PLUMBER!