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Cablegate: Lebanon: New Uniiic Commissioner Says Failure Is

VZCZCXRO8989
OO RUEHAG RUEHBC RUEHDE RUEHKUK RUEHROV
DE RUEHLB #0166/01 0351511
ZNY SSSSS ZZH
O 041511Z FEB 08
FM AMEMBASSY BEIRUT
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 0895
INFO RUEHEE/ARAB LEAGUE COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUCNMEM/EU MEMBER STATES COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUEHROV/AMEMBASSY VATICAN PRIORITY 1043
RHMFISS/HQ USEUCOM VAIHINGEN GE PRIORITY
RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK PRIORITY 1902
RUEHNO/USMISSION USNATO PRIORITY 2163
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC PRIORITY
RHMFISS/CDR USCENTCOM MACDILL AFB FL PRIORITY

S E C R E T SECTION 01 OF 03 BEIRUT 000166

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

NSC FOR ABRAMS/SINGH/YERGER

E.O. 12958: DECL: 02/03/2019
TAGS: PGOV PREL PTER PARM SY IS LE
SUBJECT: LEBANON: NEW UNIIIC COMMISSIONER SAYS FAILURE IS
NOT AN OPTION

REF: A. BEIRUT 120

B. 2007 BEIRUT 1734

BEIRUT 00000166 001.2 OF 003


Classified By: CDA William Grant for Reasons: Section 1.4 (b) and (d).

SUMMARY
-------

1. (C) New UNIIIC Commissioner and Prosecutor-Designate
Daniel Bellemare believes time is running out for the Special
Tribunal and "failure is not an option." UNIIIC was "clearly
making process," but needs member states' urgent assistance
in putting together the pieces of the puzzle and increasing
UNIIIC's "operational tempo." UNIIIC is investigating the
January 25 assassination of Internal Security Forces (ISF)
official Wissam Eid, who had been working with UNIIIC on the
Hariri and other investigations, bringing its total workload
to 20 cases.

2. (C) Bellemare stressed that the process that began with
the 2005 Hariri assassination leading up to the transition to
the Special Tribunal is irreversible. However, legal and
security considerations mandated that he not name names until
the Tribunal is operational and, as Prosecutor, he issues
substantiated indictments. He conveyed several requests for
USG assistance, which post will transmit separately. End
summary.

TIME IS RUNNING OUT
-------------------

3. (C) The Charge, accompanied by Pol/Econ Chief, met with
new UN International Independent Investigation Commission
(UNIIIC) Commissioner and Prosecutor-Designate Daniel
Bellemare and UNIIIC investigator Stacy de la Torre at UNIIIC
headquarters on January 31. Bellemare said time was running
out for the Special Tribunal, and he is increasing UNIIIC's
"tempo of operations" in response. In particular, he is
seeking ways to remove bureaucratic and other obstacles
delaying responses to UNIIIC's request for resources and
assistance from member states.

4. (C) Rather than spending time drafting detailed requests
for information relating to specific events, he planned to
send out generic "menus" of broad categories of assistance
from which member states, via their embassies in Beirut,
would indicate where they would help. Only then would UNIIIC
prepare formal requests, customized according to each
country's abilities and interests. This way, he explained,
no one could say they hadn't provided information because
UNIIIC had never asked. Furthermore, this would result in
UNIIIC receiving information it might not otherwise have
thought to request, information that could help it "connect
the dots." "We're trying to find ways to help you say yes,"
he explained.

5. (C) Low profile member states could assist in interviewing
witnesses, Bellemare uggested. UNIIIC also needed countries
to provie experts on the ground, especially for
communictions analysis. By working in Lebanon, these
experts would benefit from interaction with UNIIIC colleagues
and be able to "immerse" themselves in the investigation,
which would help them to understand better the big picture.
(Note: Post will send Bellemare's generic request for
assistance and job descriptions for experts to NEA/ELA. End
note.)

...AND THEN THERE WERE 20
-------------------------

6. (S) Bellemare confirmed that UNIIIC was providing the GOL
with technical assistance in the investigation into the
January 25 assassination of Internal Security Forces (ISF)
Officer Wissam Eid (Ref A), who had been working on the
Hariri and other assassinations. However, the GOL's request
for UNIIIC assistance had not been as immediate as in prior
assassinations (probably because the ISF was heavily involved
in the initial investigation, he commented), delaying the
arrival of UNIIIC's forensics team until February 4, ten days
after the attack.

7. (S) Noting that Eid had been involved in telecom analysis
relating to the Hariri and other assassinations (and had
visited UNIIIC a week earlier to provide an update), as well
as to Hizballah's activities, Bellemare said the attack
suggested two theories: an attempt to block progress on the
Tribunal or to prevent the GOL from investigating Hizballah.
Either way, he said, Eid's assassination showed the assassins
were circling in, and UNIIIC had to adapt its modus operandi
in response.

8. (C) UNIIIC is now involved in 20 investigations,
stretching its already limited resources even further. De la
Torre noted that UNIIIC's tendency is to focus on earlier
(especially the Hariri) investigations before addressing
recent attacks, but admitted that the prospects for fresh
evidence require UNIIIC to shift its resources, at least
temporarily. (Note: The GOL did not/not request UNIIIC
assistance in the investigation of the January 15 attack
against a U.S. Embassy vehicle that injured two local
employees. Embassy Legatt's assessment is that GOL
determined they did not need UNIIIC assistance because USG
provided assistance of an FBI/DS joint team for several days
early in the investigation of that attack. End note.)

NO NAMES IN NEXT REPORT
-----------------------

9. (C) Bellemare stated clearly that UNIIIC's next report to
the UN (due late March) would not, consistent with previous
reports, name names, for the same legal and security reasons
cited by his predecessor, Serge Brammertz. Because of
international legal standards protecting the rights of the
accused, names could only be used in the indictments
themselves, along with evidence substantiating the
accusations. And, Bellemare noted grimly, as the Eid
assassination demonstrated, security considerations mandated
confidentiality, especially to protect witnesses and
investigators until the Tribunal was ready.

10. (C) Bellemare cautioned against expectations, once the
Tribunal was operational, that names would be forthcoming
immediately, stressing that indictments would take some time.
However, as Prosecutor-Designate for the Tribunal, he was
viewing the investigations through the eyes of a prosecutor,
building a case with the standards of international justice
in mind. Unfortunately, he said, former UNIIIC Commissioner
Mehlis' recent attack in the press on Brammertz (which he
deemed "unethical" and the result of a personal grudge)
raised expectations for the first Bellemare report. However,
he stressed, "I did not come out of retirement to be a
failure."

SHAKING THE TREE
----------------

11. (C) A former Canadian magistrate, retired only two months
when he was appointed to replace Serge Brammertz as UNIIIC
Commissioner, Bellemare admitted to being a stranger to the
UN system and surprised at the number of administrative
issues requiring his attention (Ref B). However, his Chief
of Staff has 18 years of experience within the UN structure,
he said, which is "half the battle" in working with UN
bureaucracy. Moreover, people are bending over backwards to
help and showing a lot of good will, although he did not know
how long this "honeymoon" period would last. Unfortunately,
he added, recent assassinations only reconfirm the importance
of his mission.

12. (C) Bellemare also said he intended to provide a "lessons
learned" package for future UN commissioners, addressing
investigative, recruitment, and other issues. UN policies
did not make it suited for operational investigations, he
said, and this package could help future UN tribunals, e.g.,
on the Bhutto assassination.

COMMENT
-------

13. (C) Bellemare's lack of UN credentials may work to his
advantage. He struck us as someone who will have little
tolerance for obstructionist UN bureaucracy; on the contrary,
he made it clear that he has communicated UNIIIC's sense of
urgency to New York. Not beholden to the UN (i.e., not
motivated by personal ambitions for future UN appointments),
he will not be afraid to shake the system to get what he
needs to move the process forward.

14. (C) In addition, his role as Prosecutor-Designate is
clearly shaping his approach to the investigtions. We give
him a preliminary "A" for effort nd determination, and urge
Washington to make evry effort to comply with UNIIIC's
requests for information and assistance. End comment.
GRANT

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