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Cablegate: Counterterrorism in Brazil: One Step Forward, One

VZCZCXRO1555
RR RUEHRG
DE RUEHBR #0440/01 0931912
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
R 021912Z APR 08
FM AMEMBASSY BRASILIA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 1328
INFO RUEHAC/AMEMBASSY ASUNCION 6660
RUEHBU/AMEMBASSY BUENOS AIRES 5386
RUEHCV/AMEMBASSY CARACAS 4014
RUEHLP/AMEMBASSY LA PAZ 6048
RUEHMN/AMEMBASSY MONTEVIDEO 7277
RUEHSG/AMEMBASSY SANTIAGO 0214
RUEHRG/AMCONSUL RECIFE 7851
RUEHRI/AMCONSUL RIO DE JANEIRO 5960
RUEHSO/AMCONSUL SAO PAULO 1809
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 BRASILIA 000440

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 03/18/2018
TAGS: PTER PGOV PREL KCRM ETTC EFIN AR PA BR
SUBJECT: COUNTERTERRORISM IN BRAZIL: ONE STEP FORWARD, ONE
BACK (PART 1 OF 2)

Classified By: Ambassador Clifford M. Sobel. Reasons: 1.4 (B) & (D)

1. (U) Summary: After a drawn-out process that began in 2004,
President Lula on March 25, 2008 issued the decree that will
reform the Government of Brazil's intelligence apparatus,
including its counterterrorism (CT) structure. The reform is
intended to provide a more robust intelligence capability to
the government by strengthening the Brazilian Intelligence
Service (ABIN), shoring up its centralizing functions, and
giving it a more prominent role in producing intelligence on
CT-related matters. According to Embassy contacts, this
reform could represent a significant step for Brazil in
establishing a capability to monitor, deter, and respond to
terrorist activities, although significant questions remain
as to whether such an integrated system will facilitate or
impede the work of the law enforcement units within the GOB
that already function with a high degree of efficiency. End
summary.

2. (U) This cable is the first of two that will look at the
Brazilian government's latest actions related to
counterterrorism. The second cable will touch on Brazil's
reversal on plans to introduce long-delayed counterterrorism
legislation.

----------------------
Out with the Old...
----------------------

3. (U) Issued on March 25, 2008, the President's decree
re-structuring the intelligence system in Brazil was an
effort that began several years ago and was spearheaded by
the Institutional Security Cabinet (or GSI, the Office of the
Presidency's office in charge of coordinating intelligence,
counternarcotics and national security). It represents the
latest reform is a series of changes that have taken place
within Brazil's intelligence apparatus since the end of the
military dictatorship, reflecting the confused and ambivalent
attitude of the new democratic governing class towards the
usefulness of a repressive intelligence system that was no
longer necessary to maintain the regime's grip on power.

4. (U) The first such change occurred in 1990 with the
dissolution of the precursor to ABIN, the National
Information Service (SNI), five years after the return of
civilian rule. It was not until 1995 that ABIN was created
by provisional measure, and ever since its creation it has
lacked credibility, resources, and a clear focus. Because of
its confused mandate, the Brazilian intelligence system
(SISBIN) was created by Public Law 9.883 of 1999 to bring
coherence to Brazilian intelligence by serving as the
overarching architecture of an integrated intelligence
apparatus, which included ABIN, the Federal Police, the
intelligence services of the branches of the armed forces,
among other security elements. The idea behind it was assign
ABIN the lead responsibility of spearheading the task of
coordinating information, and to increase coordination
between the services through SISBIN. In reality, the system
existed in theory, and ABIN had little authority to execute
the idea.

--------------------
...In with the New
--------------------

5. (SBU) President Lula's reform is centered on strengthening
ABIN's capabilities and importance as a civilian intelligence
agency, focusing its tasks on key missions, and increasing
its role as a centralizer of intelligence. Assistant
Secretary Jose Antonio de Macedo Soares, of the Secretariat

SIPDIS
for Monitoring and Institutional Studies, at GSI (and
Ministry of External Relations representative to GSI, where
he holds the rank of minister) and GSI advisor, Janer Tesch
Hosken Alvarenga, told poloff that the two most important
changes are the creation of two new departments within ABIN,
the Department of Integration of the Brazilian Intelligence
System and the Department of Counterterrorism.

6. (U) The creation of the Department of Integration beefs up
ABIN's heretofore ambiguous role as an integrator of

BRASILIA 00000440 002 OF 003


government-wide information by creating an institutional
mechanism to marry intelligence, security, law enforcement,
financial, and other entities within the GOB. The mechanism
provides a physical area within ABIN's spaces for each of the
24 government entities that, in theory, make up the
components parts of the SISBIN. Some of these include, the
intelligence services of the armed forces, the intelligence
service of the Brazilian Federal Police (DPF), the Ministry
of Justice through its National Secretariat for Public
Security (SENASP), the Financial Activities Oversight Council
(COAF), the Central Bank, Receita Federal (Customs), the
Highway Police, the Presidency's Casa Civil, and the Office
for Combating Drugs and Trans-National Crimes (COCIT) at the
Ministry of External Relations. It also includes entities
not traditionally oriented towards intelligence such as the
Ministry of the Environment's enforcement agency (IBAMA), the
National Institute for Social Security (INSS), the National
Institute of Colonization and Land Reform (INCRA), the
airports authority (INFRAERO), Brazilian Agricultural
Research Corporation (EMBRAPA), the Ministry of Labor, the
Ministry of Health, the Ministry of Science and Technology,
the Ministry of the Environment, and the Ministry of National
Integration by way of the National Secretariat for Civil
Defense.

7. (U) In an interview with daily newspaper Valor Economico,
ABIN Director Paulo Lacerda indicated that the reformulated
SISBIN will create space within ABIN facilities for up to 5
representatives of each agency that participates. In the
interview, Lacerda took pains to emphasize that ABIN will act
as a facilitator, will not demand access to each agency's
system, and that full integration will be limited since it
will not include sharing of databases. In the interview,
Lacerda noted that such integration was essential to leverage
information that is flowing through different government
entities but that does not get properly transmitted up to the
senior levels of the government because of excessive
protection of information, often catching them unaware and
unprepared to head off multiple public security,
infrastructure, environmental, and social crises. He cited
examples such as land invasions, takeovers of critical
infrastructure such as hydroelectric dams, problems at
airports, terrorist activity, and the outbreaks of gang
violence. Focusing on the last one, Lacerda stated that
prior to the outbreak of First Capital Command (PCC) violence
in Sao Paulo in 2006, the DPF had prior knowledge through an
intercepted communications from Recife to Sao Paulo, but that
the information did not properly flow through the appropriate
Federal and State channels in a timely fashion.

8. (SBU) Echoing Lacerda's comments, Brazilian War College
analyst on strategic intelligence Andre Luis Soloszyn, author
of numerous articles on counterterrorism topics, told poloff
that a major reason for this reform was the government's lack
of a strategic warning capability that would anticipate
crises, such as the PCC's violence in 2006 and the takeover
of the Tucurui hydroelectric dam in the state of Para in May
of 2007, which threatened a power cutoff to significant
portions of Brazil's north, northeast and central-west
regions.

--------------------------
CT Now a Primary Mission
--------------------------

9. (C) Significantly, ABIN's reorganization raises the CT
mission up to the department level, placing it on equal
footing with the Departments of Strategic Intelligence,
Counterintelligence, and Integration of the Brazilian
Intelligence System. According to the President's decree,
the new department's mission will be to plan and execute
actions to prevent terrorist activity in Brazil, as well as
collect and produce intelligence on such activities. GSI
Assistant Secretary Soares stressed to poloff the
significance of this development as a signal--despite
whatever statements are made publicly by Brazilian officials
about the lack of terrorist activity within Brazil or the
failure to introduce CT legislation (septel)--of the GOB's
commitment to monitoring and preventing terrorist threats.
Alvarenga, who demonstrated an unexpectedly keen

BRASILIA 00000440 003 OF 003


understanding of the always evolving terrorist threat, told
poloff that he hoped the new structure would be better
equipped to deal with what he called "alternative scenarios"
to the "classic and most publicized terrorist target sets,"
referring to the rise of independent and homegrown cells that
could conduct attacks with little outside assistance or to
the gravitation of the larger and more well-known terrorist
groups towards softer targets, such as Brazil.

-------------------
But Risks Remain
-------------------

10. (SBU) Despite the lifting of the CT mission within ABIN,
Soloszyn warned that the reforms, though necessary, were
fraught with risks. According to him, ABIN has no
credibility within the government where other agencies see it
as a lightweight with regards to its intelligence and CT
functions in comparison to the effective work of the military
intelligence services and the DPF. He cautioned that there
was a great risk in strengthening ABIN's hand in coordinating
functions within the government. ABIN and SISBIN could
"suffocate" the other agencies by miring them in bureaucratic
minutiae, thus eroding what are currently effective
operations. Increased integration could also leave the
intelligence missions subject to ideological or political
compromises, since there could be an increase in access and
exposure of intelligence information to a larger number of
politicized entities in the government. He noted that some
entities within the government are either reluctant to work
with or incapable of understanding intelligence and CT work,
which could paralyze operations.

---------
Comment:
---------

11. (C) Brazil has taken a step forward in recognizing the
importance of having a strategic intelligence capability and
in recognizing the significance of the counterterrorism
mission as one of the most significant challenges Brazil
faces. On the other hand, the success of this reform is far
from assured and the scope of its ambitions may yet meet with
resistance from other government agencies. A significant
unanswered question is whether the project runs the risk of
impeding the timeliness of CT-related intelligence operations
by drawing currently effective USG partners, such as the DPF,
into bureaucratic quagmires, or by decreasing their
independence of action. In addition, the model they have
chosen to pursue--sharing building space, but keeping
separate offices and maintaining information control in the
hands of its component parts--may prove in the end to enhance
coordination only marginally. Much will depend on the
ability and willingness of the various agency heads to work
together. If there is a high-level commitment to cooperation
and to protect the effort from political interference, it
could better prepare Brazil to head off crises, coordinate
its incident response, and draw increasing attention to the
issue of counterterrorism. End comment.

SOBEL
SOBEL

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