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Cablegate: Argentina: Airport Police Chief Discusses

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RR RUEHWEB

DE RUEHBU #2149/01 3040802
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 310802Z OCT 07
FM AMEMBASSY BUENOS AIRES
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 9620
INFO RUEATRS/DEPT OF TREASURY WASHINGTON DC
RUCPDOC/USDOC WASHINGTON DC
RHMCSUU/FBI WASHINGTON DC
RULSDMK/DEPT OF TRANSPORTATION WASHINGTON DC
RHMFIUU/DEPT OF HOMELAND SECURITY WASHINGTON DC
RHMFIUU/HQ USSOUTHCOM MIAMI FL
RUEHAC/AMEMBASSY ASUNCION 6666
RUEHMN/AMEMBASSY MONTEVIDEO 6876
RUEHSG/AMEMBASSY SANTIAGO 0889
RUEHBR/AMEMBASSY BRASILIA 6546
RUEHPE/AMEMBASSY LIMA 2194
RUEHBO/AMEMBASSY BOGOTA 1663
RUEHLP/AMEMBASSY LA PAZ OCT CARACAS 1570
RUEHMD/AMEMBASSY MADRID 1934
RUEHMT/AMCONSUL MONTREAL 0036

UNCLAS BUENOS AIRES 002149

SIPDIS

SIPDIS
SENSITIVE

MONTREAL FOR US MISSION TO ICAO LAURA FAUX-GABLE
FAA NATIONAL HQ FOR CECILIA CAPESTANY
TSA HQ FOR KIP HAWLEY AND JILLENE MACCRERRY

SIPDIS
PASS NSC FOR MICHAEL SMART
TRANSPORTATION FOR BRIAN HEDBERG
FBI FOR AMERICAS UNIT, OFFICE OF INTERNATIONAL OPERATIONS
COMMERCE FOR EUGENE ALFORD
TREASURY FOR MATT MALLOY
PASS FED BOARD OF GOVERNORS FOR PATRICE ROBITAILLE
US SOUTHCOM FOR POLAD

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: EAIR PGOV CASC KCRM PREL KCOR AR
SUBJECT: ARGENTINA: AIRPORT POLICE CHIEF DISCUSSES
COUNTER-TERRORISM, U.S. TRAINING, AIRPORT THEFTS

Ref: (A) Buenos Aires 2032

1. (SBU) Summary: The Ambassador's October 22 meeting with GOA
Airport Police chief Marcelo Sain (protect throughout) focused on
common counter-terrorism goals and the need to continue working
together on airport security issues. Sain thanked the Ambassador
for recent FBI- and DHS-provided training in the United States and
sought more as available. Sain outlined his budget priorities that
emphasize infrastructure and training. The Ambassador expressed
concern about recent thefts of high-value items in airport passenger
baggage and its potential impact on visiting American citizens. END
SUMMARY.

Thanks for U.S.-provided Training; Offer for More
-------------------------------

2. (SBU) In a cordial meeting between the Ambassador and Marcelo
Sain, the two sides reviewed recent FBI-sponsored briefings in the
United States for senior PSA officials. Sain thanked the Ambassador
for the May 2007 training at FBI headquarters, the National Joint
Terrorism Task Force, the Terrorist Screening Center, FBI Academy,
and Miami International Airport's law enforcement interagency
working group. Sain and his deputy, Nicolas Rodriguez Games,
attended these briefings with the FBI's Assistant Legal Attache
(also present at the meeting). Sain expressed interest in working
with the United States in the future. The Ambassador indicated that
there would likely be future opportunities. Legatt cited a four-week
training course at FBI Headquarters in March/April 2008 as a
possibility.

PSA Budgets and Accountability
------------------------------

3. (SBU) Sain explained that a large majority of his resources were
being funneled towards airport infrastructure and airport police
training. More specifically, money was being spent to improve noted
vulnerabilities to terrorists such as unguarded tunnels underneath
the runways and the organized theft rings. Sain said that the GOA's
focus on the October 2007 national elections have impeded his
agency's effort so far to make large-scale and needed changes.
According to Sain, a key problem PSA faces is the lack of adequate
funding to fully establish a police agency with aviation security
responsibilities. He confided that he felt PSA is not viewed as an
important security agency within the government as are the federal
police. Sain noted the difficulties in providing police and
aviation security services at the major airports is compounded by
the many different entities (Customs, state-owned ground handling
company Intercargo, and Immigration, among others) that have
responsibilities at the airport, and partly as a result, relations
have been strained (ref A). Note: Sain himself has come under some
public criticism for his sometimes tense relations with these and
other airport entities, as well as for his outspoken and
confrontational response to criticism.

Thefts at Airports Could Impact American Citizens
---------------------

4. (SBU) The Ambassador raised the issue of recent reports of
several high-profile thefts at the two major Buenos Aires airports,
including Ezeiza International Airport. The Ambassador said that
this was a source of concern for American tourists. The Ambassador
noted his responsibility to protect American citizens and said that
given the reportedly increasing incidents of thefts of passenger
baggage, he had to consider the possibility of a formal notification
to American citizens on this matter. (This would be noted in the
Consular Information Sheet. The Ambassador has recently discussed
this same issue with the Secretary of Tourism, the Minister of
Interior and the Minister of Foreign Affairs, all to be reported
septel.) Sain said that baggage handling was primarily the
responsibility of Customs. During a discussion with the TSA
representative, Victor Guardia, Sain explained that the
certification of the baggage screeners was handled by customs and
not by his organization. He also expressed a desire to meet at a
later time with TSA to discuss the process in more detail. Sain
believed there were organized theft rings in the baggage handling
company, "Intercargo" and also theft involving other airport
employees. Sain said that they all needed to be cleaned up and that
he fully understood the need of the USG to warn its tourists. Sain
himself had given interviews to the local media detailing his views
of thefts by airport employees. The Ambassador emphasized that the
United States was willing to assist in any way possible. Sain said
he looked forward to further cooperation with TSA and other USG
entities.

Aid for Diplomatic Flights
--------------------------

5. (SBU) The Ambassador expressed his gratitude for Sain's
assistance in resolving recent problems encountered by U.S.
diplomats with PSA officers attempting to inspect and search the
C-12 support aircraft and its crew. Sain was quick to apologize and
assured the Ambassador that proper education and instructions were
transmitted to PSA personnel at all airports. The Ambassador also
noted that a note from Sain could prove to be very useful in future
problems of this nature. The Ambassador also expressed his
gratitude for the aid of Sain's deputy, Nicolas Rodriguez Games, who
has been a reliable Embassy contact on a wide range for issues.

Comment
--------

6. (SBU) Sain expressed a willingness to work more closely with the
United States on these important issues. The Ambassador will
continue to press Sain and other senior GOA officials regarding the
reported thefts of items from passengers' luggage. In the past
week, the press reported that several airport employees were
arrested for tampering with luggage. Post will also work with FBI,
ICE, TSA and other sections on possible further training for PSA
officials.

KELLY

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