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Cablegate: Lebanon: Bellemare Anxious for More Usg Assistance

VZCZCXRO3042
PP RUEHAG RUEHBC RUEHDE RUEHKUK RUEHROV
DE RUEHLB #1348/01 2591418
ZNY SSSSS ZZH
P 151418Z SEP 08
FM AMEMBASSY BEIRUT
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 3034
INFO RUEHEE/ARAB LEAGUE COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUCNMEM/EU MEMBER STATES COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RHMFISS/CDR USCENTCOM MACDILL AFB FL PRIORITY
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC PRIORITY
RHMFISS/CDR USEUCOM VAIHINGEN GE PRIORITY
RUEAWJA/DEPT OF JUSTICE WASHDC PRIORITY
RHEHAAA/NSC WASHDC PRIORITY
RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK PRIORITY 2905

S E C R E T SECTION 01 OF 03 BEIRUT 001348

NOFORN
SIPDIS

DEPT FOR NEA/FO, NEA/ELA, IO/FO-HOOK, WARLICK,
IO/UNP-AMORRISON, L/FO-JBELLINGER, JTHESSIN,
L/AN-LJACOBSON, L/UNA-TBUCHWALD, INR/GGI-MARGULIES,
CIA/CNC-JFINKEL, JBRODERERICK, CIA/CTC-JBEAN, DOJ-JEVY,
USUN-KHALILZAD, WOLFF, SCHEDLBAUER, NSC FOR
ABRAMS/RAMCHAND/YERGER/MCDERMOTT

E.O. 12958: DECL: 09/12/2018
TAGS: PREL PTER PGOV PINR UNSC LE SY
SUBJECT: LEBANON: BELLEMARE ANXIOUS FOR MORE USG ASSISTANCE
THAN HE HAS SEEN

REF: THE HAGUE 744

Classified By: Ambassador Michele J. Sison for reasons 1.4 (b), (d)

SUMMARY
-------

1. (S/NF) In a September 12 meeting with the Ambassador,
Daniel Bellemare, Commissioner of the UN Independent
International Investigative Commission (UNIIIC) made three
specific requests for USG assistance and additional requests
for USG action. First, he asked that the USG provide
intelligence information that UNIIIC has formally requested.
Second, that the USG loan UNIIIC two criminal investigators
TDY. UNIIIC needs "investigators who can question a witness"
to interview some 200 persons currently in prison who may
have some relevant information. Third, that the USG urge the
UK to do more to help UNIIIC, particularly with intelligence
information (the UK has provided loaned personnel).

2. (S/NF) In addition, Bellemare asked for USG support when
the Management Committee considers the Tribunal operating
budget on September 25 -- the same day that Lebanese
President Sleiman will meet President Bush in Washington. He
also raised the prospect of consultations among the P-5 on a
new resolution to clarify some legal issues. Finally he
repeated earlier requests for a USG reaction to 26 sketches
of possible suspects that UNIIIC had given the USG and asked
about getting access to alleged Hizballah defectors
reportedly in the U.S.

3. (S/NF) On other matters, Bellemare said that the GOL has
not asked that UNIIIC investigate the latest political
assassination (the September 10 attack on opposition Druze
member Saleh Aridi). He is concerned about a new
Telecommunication Ministry directive that may impede his
plans for using wiretaps. End Summary.

GOL HAS NOT ASKED THAT UNIIIC
INVESTIGATE LATEST ASSASSINATION
--------------------------------

4. (S/NF) The Ambassador and DCM met on September 12 with
Daniel Bellemare, Commissioner of the UN Independent
International Investigative Commission (UNIIIC), in his
office in Monteverde. The Ambassador asked if UNIIIC would
investigate the case of Saleh Aridi, a Druze political
official assassinated in a car bomb attack near Beirut on
September 10. Bellemare explained that for UNIIIC to take on
a case, first the GOL must ask the UN SYG, then the SYG and
Security Council must approve. He said that the GOL had
shown no indication that it would request that UNIIIC
investigate the Aridi killing. UNIIIC is interested in
finding out more about the Aridi attack, since details are
similar to other cases it is investigating. If it is not
invited to investigate but wants information about a case,
UNIIIC must submit a request to the Lebanese chief
prosecutor. The criteria the GOL uses to decide on
requesting UNIIIC assistance is "a mystery to me" Bellemare
said. (NOTE: The Aridi assassination is the first of a
pro-Syrian politician. END NOTE.)

WIRETAPPING
-----------

5. (S/NF) Bellemare was concerned about something he had
learned the day before that might affect wiretapping. The
Telecommunications Ministry had directed two private telecom
companies in Lebanon to inform the Ministry about any
requests for wiretapping. He noted that it is well known
that the Internal Security Forces (ISF), the national police,
conduct wiretapping even though the legal basis for their
authority to do so is weak. The Telecom Ministry's move may
have been directed against the ISF. The order, however, also
could limit the ability of UNIIIC to conduct wiretaps if the
phone companies fear that they will have to report those
efforts to the Telecommunications Ministry.

6. (S/NF) The Ambassador asked if Bellemare believed the
action was targeted at UNIIIC, noting that the new
Telecommunications Minister is from the opposition.
Bellemare replied that he was not in a position to say. At
his meeting with PM Fouad Siniora earlier in the week, on
September 8, Siniora told Bellemare to inform him if he runs
into any problems with cooperation from government officials.
He said he might discuss this with the PM if it looks as if
this new telecom directive will be a problem, but first he
will meet with officials of the two telecom companies next
week. The Ambassador offered to support his efforts at
resolving this issue.

7. (S/NF) Bellemare noted that at his August 14 meeting in
The Hague with the USG Interagency Working Group (IWG), he
had asked for USG help with wiretapping capability. He said
that trying to work wiretapping through the Lebanese ISF or
military intelligence would be like "putting the names (of
targets) in the paper". He explained that UN legal experts
were currently looking into the possibility that UNIIIC has
legal authority to carry out wiretaps. Beyond legal
authority for wiretapping, though, Bellemare said he needs
technical capability.

ASSISTANCE FROM THE USG
-----------------------

8. (S/NF) Bellemare expressed frustration that USG has not
provided more in response to his requests for assistance, and
noted that he has discussed this with State Department
officials. He outlined three requests for USG assistance for
his investigation.

-- One, provide intelligence information that UNIIIC has
formally requested, or inform him that it cannot be provided,
so that he knows not to pursue the requests.

-- Two, provide two loaned criminal analysts on TDY. UNIIIC
needs "investigators who can question a witness" to interview
some 200 persons currently in prison who may have some
relevant informtion.

-- Three, using USG influence, urge the U government to
provide more to UNIIIC, particulaly regarding intelligence
information. Bellemare said he has requests in to MI-6, but
has not received much. On personnel, Scotland Yard has
provided a loaned investigator.

9. (S/NF) Bellemare showed a good understanding of the
problems associated with complying with the first two
requests from his several meetings with USG officials, but
his frustration was nonetheless evident. "You are the key
player. If the U.S. doesn't help me, who will?" The USG has
"a big investment in the Tribunal" and being more forthcoming
on UNIIIC's requests is a way of making that investment pay
off, he said.

10. (S/NF) During the meeting, Bellemare made several other
requests for USG action:

-- USG support when the Committee considers the Tribunal
operating budget, scheduled for September 25, the same day
that Lebanese President Sleiman will meet President Bush in
Washington. He warned that the budget includes high travel
costs, but that these are necessary because of the need for
frequent travel between the Hague and Lebanon. Bellemare
thanked the USG for what he said was a much improved attitude
on the part of the Tribunal Management Committee. His
requests have been more favorably received than was the case
previously.

-- He raised the prospect of consultations among the P-5 on a
new resolution to clarify some legal issues. He mused about
the possibility of getting Chapter VII authority for the
Tribunal via such a new resolution, but seemed to think that
was not doable in the Council.

-- He asked for a reaction to the 26 sketches of possible
suspects that UNIIIC had given the USG.

-- Finally, he asked about getting access to alleged
Hizballah defectors reportedly in the U.S., or a definitive
negative response to the request. The answers the USG has
given him so far on this subject, he said, have been not
sufficiently definitive.

INTERVIEWS IN SYRIA
-------------------

11. (S/NF) On this issue, Bellemare repeated what he said in
the IWG meeting (reftel): that he did not want to go to Syria
until the USG or other sources had provided names of leads he
should ask to interview and other information. If Syria
denied his request to interview these people, then he would
have evidence of Syrian non-cooperation. Just asking would
give some indication to others in Syria where his
investigation might be headed, which could provoke more
cooperation "if I hit the right person."

12. (S/NF) Bellemare emphasized the urgency for responding
to his request related to Syria, first, because UNIIIC's
mandate and with it Chapter VII authority expires at the end
of the year, and second, the importance of conducting the
interviews before the interviewees disappear by being killed
or other means.

OTHER ISSUES: NEW MINISTER OF JUSTICE,
UNIIIC PRESS SPOKESPERSON
------------------------------

13. (C ) Bellemare said he had a very positive impression of
new GOL Justice Minister Ibrahim Najjar, who had told
Bellemare he wanted to be helpful. Najjar's predecessor,
Charles Rizk, was a vocal supporter of the Tribunal but also
known for public criticisms of Bellemare and the previous
Commissioner, Serge Brammertz. Bellemare, a Canadian, noted
that Najjar had taught at McGill University in Montreal and
they had some mutual acquaintances.

14. (SBU) UNIIIC now has a press spokesperson who started
work the week before, Bellemare reported. The official had
good relevant experience as the spokesperson for the
Yugoslavia Tribunal and most recently for the UN Legal
Affairs office. The new spokesperson is currently working up
a strategy for UNIIIC's press interaction.

15. (C) Bellemare said he had been advised by several
persons to not make statements in public that might be seen
as disrupting the current relative calm in Lebanon. He
planned to follow that advice, (NOTE: Bellemare traveled to
Saudi Arabia September 15, we understand. We will seek
further information from UNIIIC contacts. END NOTE.)
SISON

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