Today, 21 December 2018, WikiLeaks publishes a searchable database of more than 16,000 procurement requests posted by United States embassies around the world.
All US 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”.