Hillary Clinton ordered American officials to spy on high ranking UN diplomats, including British representatives.
Top secret cables revealed that Mrs Clinton, the Secretary of State, even ordered diplomats to obtain DNA data – including iris scans and fingerprints - as well as credit card and frequent flier numbers.
All permanent members of the security council – including Russia, China, France and the UK – were targeted by the secret spying mission, as well as the Secretary General of the UN, Ban Ki-Moon.
Secret spy mission: U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton ordered diplomats to spy on UN leaders, including Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon
Work schedules, email addresses, fax numbers, website identifiers and mobile numbers were also demanded by Washington.
The U.S. also wanted ‘biographic and biometric information on UN Security Council permanent representatives’.
The secret 'national human intelligence collection directive' was sent to embassies and consulates around the world.
The request could break international law and threatens to derail any trust between the U.S. and other powerful nations.
Requests for IT related information – such as details of passwords, personal encryption keys and network upgrades - could also raise suspicions that the U.S. was preparing to mount a hacking operation.
It is set to lead to international calls for Mrs Clinton to resign.
The fishing expedition was ordered by Mrs Clinton in July 2009, but followed similar demands made by her predecessor, Condoleeza Rice.
The secret documents were simply signed 'Clinton' and 'Rice'.
Mrs Clinton called for biometric details ‘on key UN officials, to include undersecretaries, heads of specialised agencies and their chief advisers, top SYG [secretary general] aides, heads of peace operations and political field missions, including force commanders’.
Mrs Clinton's orders followed on from those given by former U.S. Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice, shown here with former United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan in Rome in 2006
She also wanted intelligence on Ban Ki-Moon’s ‘management and decision-making style and his influence on the secretariat’.
Cables were sent to U.S. embassies in the UN, Middle East, Eastern Europe and Latin America.
America has always handed over information about top foreign officials to the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).
But the request by Mrs Clinton paves the way for officials to be more closely spied upon, with even their travel plans tracked by U.S. diplomats.
In what could discredit the U.S.’s role in the Middle East peace process, missions in Israel, Jordan, Syria, Saudi Arabia and Egypt were asked to gather biometric information ‘on key Palestinian Authority and Hamas leaders and representatives, to include the young guard inside Gaza, the West Bank’.
Details of the US spying mission were sent to the CIA, the U.S. Secret Service and the FBI under the heading ‘collection requirements and tasking’.
International treaties ban spying at the UN.
The 1946 UN convention on privileges and immunities states: ‘The premises of the United Nations shall be inviolable. The property and assets of the United Nations, wherever located and by whomsoever held, shall be immune from search, requisition, confiscation, expropriation and any other form of interference, whether by executive, administrative, judicial or legislative action.’
The American ambassador to Britain, Louis Susman said he ‘condemned’ the disclosures and that the U.S. government was ‘taking steps to prevent future security breaches’.
He also claimed the disclosures had 'the very real potential to harm innocent people" but insisted the cables ‘should not be seen as representing U.S. policy on their own’.
He said the leaks were ‘harmful to the U.S. and our interests’ adding, ‘However, I am confident that our uniquely productive relationship with the UK will remain close and strong, focused on promoting our shared objectives and values.
U.S. State Department spokesman PJ Crowley said Mrs Clinton had warned leaders in Britain, France, Germany, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Afghanistan and China about the cables, revealed by investigators at the Wikileaks website.
Canada, Denmark, Norway and Poland had also been warned.