Cablegate: Bhutto Asks Ambassador for Security Assessment Assistance
O 231450Z OCT 07
FM AMEMBASSY ISLAMABAD
TO SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 2645
INFO AMEMBASSY KABUL PRIORITY
AMCONSUL KARACHI PRIORITY
AMCONSUL PESHAWAR PRIORITY
USCENTCOM INTEL CEN MACDILL AFB FL PRIORITY
CDR USCENTCOM MACDILL AFB FL PRIORITY
C O N F I D E N T I A L ISLAMABAD 004531
E.O. 12958: DECL: 10/23/2017
TAGS: PREL PGOV PTER ASEC PK
SUBJECT: BHUTTO ASKS AMBASSADOR FOR SECURITY ASSESSMENT ASSISTANCE
Classified By: DCM Peter Bodde for Reasons 1.4 (b) and (d)
1. (C) SUMMARY. Ambassador and Consul General Karachi met with Benazir Bhutto and members of her staff October 23 regarding a range of issues, but most urgently about her security. Bhutto requested, in writing, that USG "undertake an evaluation of existing executive security procedures and recommendation of additional resources necessary for maximum safety." Ambassador recommends that we meet with members of her staff and provide list of security contractors who could provide this assessment.
2. (C) We strongly recommend against providing a U.S. Government evaluation, which will inevitably expose performance gaps that would not meet American standards of training and equipment. Responsibility for security belongs with the Government of Pakistan. We will keep stressing to both sides that government and Bhutto's party must work directly together to resolve any questions or issues regarding Bhutto's personal security. END SUMMARY.
3. (C) Ambassador, CG and Information Officer met with Benazir Bhutto and members of her staff October 23 at her residence in Karachi. (Other elements reported septel.)
4. (C) Bhutto gave a request in writing to the Ambassador that Embassy staff meet with AmCit Larry Wallace and members of Bhutto's staff to provide an assessment of her security. She seemed uncertain about what exactly this entailed, but she had heard that we had provided such assessments for others in the past. The Ambassador said that there were situations in which the USG provided security - former President Aristide and President Karzai came to mind - but, in these situations, the security was basically turned over to American contractors supervised by official U.S. personnel. The Ambassador doubted it would be consistent with a political campaign. She noted there was also training provided through ATA and INL that provided anti-terrorist and law enforcement training but these were long-term in nature.
5. (C) Embassy proposes meeting with Wallace and PPP security experts to provide them with a list of responsible security contractors who could provide such an assessment. Ambassador strongly recommends against a U.S. Government evaluation, which would inevitably identify gaps (by American standards) in both equipment and training of personnel. The USG should either undertake full responsibility for Bhutto's personal security or not. We also believe it highly unlikely that the PPP would follow professional recommendations not to hold rallies in large crowds. Protection of prime ministerial candidates is the responsibility of the government of Pakistan, and the GoP must provide the best possible security for Bhutto and other candidates.