Cablegate: Ashgabat Surveillance Detection Program
DE RUEHAH #0379 0861144
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
R 261144Z MAR 08
FM AMEMBASSY ASHGABAT
TO SECSTATE WASHDC 0494
C O N F I D E N T I A L ASHGABAT 000379
DS/IP/OPO/FPD AND DS/IP/SCA
E.O. 12958: DECL: 03/26/2018
TAGS: AMGT APER ASEC
SUBJECT: ASHGABAT SURVEILLANCE DETECTION PROGRAM
REF: A. 07 ASHGABAT 551 B. 07 ASHGABAT 619 C. 07
ASHGABAT 780 D. 07 ASHGABAT 839 E. 07
ASHGABAT 1050 F. ASHGABAT 35 G.
SURVEILLANCE DETECTION MANAGEMENT AND
OPERATIONS FIELD GUIDE V2.0
032008 SUBJ: SD TEAM -
Classified By: Derived From: 2008 Ashgabat 00035 dated 01/08/2008
1. (U) This is an action request, please see paragraph 6.
2. (C) Reftels correctly assert that Embassy Ashgabats Surveillance Detection (SD) operations have been severely restricted by the Government of Turkmenistan (GOT) and that it is unlikely that the GOT will agree to authorize normal SD operations in the near future. Since April 2007 to present, the SD Team is not allowed to conduct operations outside of the Embassy compound territory. This includes coverage of the Residential compound, Public Affairs off-site location and the USAID/EXBS off-site location.
3. (C) Efforts to seek approval to continue SD operations with the GOT have met with negative results. In a recent meeting with President Berdimuhammedov, PDAS Mann was unable to raise the re-implementation of SD operations. President Berdimuhammedov limited the discussion to one topic, and PDAS Mann did not have an opportunity to address the issue of SD and other post-specific issues. Additional attempts by Charge Hoagland to raise the issue of SD operations with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs also produced no positive results. As previously mentioned, the re-instatement of SD operations in Turkmenistan must be addressed personally with the president by high ranking USG officials, which has gone beyond the working level of local law enforcement and RSO staff. (In August 2007, Assistant Secretary Daniel Sullivan raised SD with President Berdimuhammedov, but nothing resulted from that intervention).
4. (C) Through natural attrition, the SD Team has reduced its size from 14 to 11 persons. There are currently two vacant Local Guard Force (LGF) positions, with the possibility of a third position opening soon. Pending the resolution of the SD Team, RSO is not filling theses positions in order to minimize the Reduction in Force (RIF) effect if SD operations are permanently suspended.
5. (C) RSO continues to make use of the additional manpower afforded by this suspension by implementing members of the SD Team into LGF operations. SD Team members have enabled the Embassy to conduct limited surveillance from within the compounds walls. Currently, all SD incidents are observed by the LGF and recorded into SIMAS by the SD Coordinator and/or the SD Analyst in his absence. The integration of the SD Team into the LGF has proven to be an added benefit to the Embassy LGF. Members of the LGF can focus more of their attention on properly screening personnel and vehicles. Additionally, SD Team members have been able to train LGF members on how to better spot surveillance attempts. It should be noted that all surveillance incident reports over the past 11 months have originated from the LGF.
6. (C) In order to maintain the integrity of the SD program, post is strongly requesting authorization to permanently maintain the SD Coordinator and SD Analyst positions. Currently, post has not received a definite answer from the GOT to permanently suspend SD operations, and is hopeful that this issue will be resolved favorably in the near future. If and when SD operations are reinstated, the SD Coordinator and Analyst will play a key role in reviving the program. The employees in both positions have institutional knowledge and can provide training to LGF and Embassy staff about surveillance detection. Additionally, these positions can continue to track, analyze and monitor security related incidents on a daily basis. Furthermore, RSO strongly requests that DS/IP/OPO/FPD allow post to retain the additional 9 SD Team members through the end of the current fiscal year.
7. (U) Your point of contact for this information is XXXXXXXXXXXX.