Cablegate: Requesting Diplomatic Status for Office of Defense


DE RUEHAK #1386/01 2171250
P 041250Z AUG 08




E.O. 12958: N/A


1. Post requests Department approve diplomatic status for
Office of Defense Cooperation (ODC) Turkey personnel in
accordance with 3 FAH-1 H-2438.2 in lieu of status under the
NATO Status of Forces (SOFA) Implementing Agreement with
Turkey. ODC Turkey Chief enjoyed diplomatic status until
2005, when it was revoked by the Foreign Ministry with the
argument that ODC personnel are not part of U.S. Embassy
Turkey -- an argument we reject. ODC personnel are under
Chief of Mission authority, work on a Turkish base but in a
dedicated U.S.-leased facility which receives ICASS support,
and perform functions that directly contribute to Mission
goals as described in the Mission Strategic Plan. ODC
personnel negotiate and draft agreements, contracts, letters
of offer and acceptance, and other contractual instruments,
worth millions of dollars and enjoying a high political
profile, that may expose them to civil liability in the
course of their activities. Hence the need for diplomatic
immunities beyond those offered by the SOFA. The parity
principle also argues that ODC personnel, who directly
contribute to Mission goals and the success of the bilateral
relationship, enjoy the same privileges as their State and
other agency counterparts at post. According to our
information, ODC Turkey is one of only four such ODCs in the
world whose personnel do not enjoy diplomatic status. End


2. ODC Turkey personnel have traditionally been under the
NATO Status of Forces and NATO SOFA Implementing Agreement of
1954. However, the ODC Turkey Chief, an Air Force Major
General billet, enjoyed diplomatic status for over 25 years
until 2005, when it was revoked by the Foreign Ministry with
the argument that ODC is not part of the U.S. Embassy in
Turkey but is rather subordinate to European Command (EUCOM).
We dispute this view. Under U.S. Code, Title 22 Section
2321i, members of the military assigned to foreign countries
to perform security assistance functions serve under the
direction and supervision of the Chief of the United States
diplomatic mission to that country. EUCOM supports our view
as most ODCs in EUCOM's area of responsibility enjoy
diplomatic status. OSD support for diplomatic status for ODC
Turkey was expressed in DSCA Chief Lt Gen Jeffrey Kohler's
January 23, 2006 letter to the State Department's Title and
Rank Officer requesting diplomatic status for ODC personnel.


3. Chief of Mission Authority. ODC personnel fall under
Chief of Mission authority per 22 USC 2321i. They are an
integral part of Mission Turkey, participating in embassy
substantive and administrative functions, including ICASS.
The ODC Chief and his deputies are represented on the Country
Team and ODC personnel routinely participate in Embassy
meetings, briefings, and representational events. The ODC
Chief served as acting Deputy Chief of Mission for a period
in 2006. ODC activities, including the management of
security cooperation functions as well as the negotiation and
implementation of the Defense Economic Cooperation Agreement
(DECA) and numerous other bilateral agreements and memoranda
of understanding, directly contribute to mission goals as
described in the Mission Strategic Plan, particularly in
promoting regional stability and counter-terrorism
cooperation. ODC programs, such as FMF and IMET, directly
contribute to fostering improved military relations with this
key NATO Ally which in turn promote broader bilateral
cooperation and which contribute directly to U.S. security.
ODC Turkey is currently the only Mission component that does
not enjoy diplomatic status. According to 7 FAM 1311.3-3
diplomatic passports are issued to all full-time Federal
employees, including military personnel assigned abroad, who
are directly under the authority of the Chief of Mission.

4. ODC Facility. We believe that the ODC facility
constitutes an Embassy annex as described in 3 FAH-1 Exhibit
2439. ODC personnel undertaking functions under Chief of
Mission authority operate on a Turkish military base but in a
dedicated, leased facility that is accessible to other
Mission personnel as necessary. The facility is clearly
identified as U.S. by the presence of a U.S. flag and other
symbols, 24 hours per day. U.S. personnel provide internal
security. ODC facilities and personnel receive ICASS support
and are full participants in ICASS, to include procurement,
vouchering and cashier functions. Construction projects for
the ODC Ankara facility are coordinated, approved and
executed by the Embassy's contracting office.

5. Job Requirements. ODC personnel perform security
assistance activities as well as negotiate, manage and
implement the Defense Economic Cooperation Agreement (DECA)
and a host of other agreements and understandings in support
of U.S. Government activities and goals in the entire region.
ODC personnel undertake contract negotiations, including
with local defense contractors and firms, involving millions
of dollars. ODC personnel work directly with U.S. firms and
the Turkish Ministry of Defense Undersecretariat for
Procurement on high-value commercial sales and Foreign
Military Sales (FMS). ODC personnel also contract and manage
the supply and provisioning of U.S. forces operating in the
region, particularly in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.
Security cooperation activities here enjoy a very high
profile and have great political sensitivity. The NATO SOFA
gives primary jurisdiction to Turkey for most offenses and
only very limited protection against civil judgments.
Therefore ODC personnel remain vulnerable to civil litigation
as they undertake a wide variety of sensitive contractual
activities essential to the performance of their duties.

6. Parity. Unlike accredited Mission personnel, ODC
personnel are not exempt from value-added taxes (VAT). ODC
as an organization only receives partial tax relief under the
SOFA, resulting in higher ODC payments for utilities and
other services. According to our information, ODC Turkey is
one of only four ODC offices worldwide (the others are in
Afghanistan, Rwanda, and Uzbekistan) whose direct hire
employees do not enjoy some level of diplomatic status.

The Way Ahead

7. Upon Department concurrence that Mission may request
appropriate diplomatic titles/status for ODC personnel
stationed here under Chief of Mission authority, post will
submit forms DS-1474 for each requested position. Upon
approval of diplomatic status, post will formally inform the
Ministry of Foreign Affairs that said personnel are full
Mission members under Chief of Mission authority and will
request they be accorded appropriate immunities and
privileges under the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic

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