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Cablegate: 2008 Recommendation for Renewal of Presidential

VZCZCXRO0981
RR RUEHRG
DE RUEHBR #1214/01 2551842
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
R 111842Z SEP 08
FM AMEMBASSY BRASILIA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 2409
INFO RUEHRG/AMCONSUL RECIFE 8425
RUEHRI/AMCONSUL RIO DE JANEIRO 6570
RUEHSO/AMCONSUL SAO PAULO 2701
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC
RULSDMK/DEPT OF TRANSPORTATION WASHDC
RUEAWJA/DEPT OF JUSTICE WASHDC
RUEAHLC/DEPT OF HOMELAND SECURITY WASHDC

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 BRASILIA 001214

SIPDIS

STATE FOR WHA/BSC AND L

E.O. 12958: DECL: 10/01/2018
TAGS: SNAR PREL MOPS BR
SUBJECT: 2008 RECOMMENDATION FOR RENEWAL OF PRESIDENTIAL
DETERMINATION FOR BRAZIL'S SHOOTDOWN PROGRAM

REF: A. STATE 54183
B. BRASILIA 806
C. 07 BRASILIA 1868
D. BRASILIA 987
E. BRASILIA 1079
F. BRASILIA 1124
G. BRASILIA 1170
H. IIR 6 809 0259 08
I. IIR 6 809 0267 08
J. IIR 6 809 0210 08

Classified By: Ambassador Clifford Sobel. Reason 1.5 d

1. (C) SUMMARY. In accordance with ref a instructions, Post
has conducted an extensive review of Brazil's Air Bridge
Denial (ABD)/Shootdown program. Following site visits,
conversations with Brazilian government officials and
analysis of Brazil's shootdown procedures, (reftels) post has
a clearer picture of Brazil's institutional controls. For
the first time, the Brazilian government has provided us with
an official written version of its procedures (ref g),
filling what ref a identified was the crucial gap in our
confidence in Brazil's safety procedures. Based on our
ongoing monitoring of Brazil's program and supplemented by
Brazil's openess in sharing its procedures, post recommends
that the Presidential Determination (PD) on the Brazilian
Shootdown Law be renewed for 2008. END SUMMARY.

2. (C) As noted in refs a and b, Post remains engaged with
the Government of Brazil to maintain confidence that Brazil's
safety procedures for its ABD provide protection against
innocent loss of life in connection with interdiction. Based
on evaluations of Brazil's ABD program, the President has
been able to certify annually since 2004. Based on post's
contacts with the Brazilian Air Force and Air Control
facilities (reftels), it is clear that Brazil's safety
procedures are at least as strong as in previous years. In
each contact we have had with Brazilian officials, we have
heard the view that there is no chance that an actual
shootdown will be ordered and that the passage of time makes
a shootdown less likely as the notion that the shootdown
authority is not to be used becomes more entrenched.

PROCEDURES
----------

3. (C) As requested in ref a, Mission Brazil has worked
this year to deepen our knowledge of GOB shootdown
procedures. As transmitted in ref g, we now have obtained
from the Brazilian Air Force an official copy of Brazil's
procedures which are consistent with those briefed previously
(most recently described in refs c and h). One area of
ambiguity exists in the written procedures: who the
"competent authority" would be to order the actual
destruction of an aircraft. Post has confirmed that only the
Commander of the Air Force is considered competent to do this
and that this is understood clearly at all levels of the
chain of command. Indeed, Air Force pilots and controllers
have said privately that they in no way would want
responsibility for any use of lethal force and are content to
depend on high level authorization.

4. (C) In discussing the procedures with the Brazilian Air
Force, two other salient facts emerged. First, only a small
number of pilots are authorized to conduct intercept
operations and receive special training before receiving such
authorization. Second, there is a complete separation
between controllers of military and civilian air traffic.
While all controllers work for the Ministry of Defense, for
operational security reasons, those on the military side have
separate locations and access to restricted data feeds not
available to the civilian side. They are also able to employ
AWACS aircraft for additional situational awareness. Given
this separation, military controllers were unable to imagine
any circumstances under which a civilian controller could
become involved in the procedure for ordering a shootdown.
Similarly, problems in civilian aviation and air traffic
control cannot impact the safety procedures followed on the
military side. These factors show the importance the
Brazilian Air Force places on safety, particularly concerning
potential intercept operations.


BRASILIA 00001214 002 OF 002


VISITS
------

5. (C) During the past year, post has been able to visit
two (Brasilia and Manaus) of the four regional air control
centers (CINDACTAS) (refs f,h,k). These visits each showed
that CINDACTA staff were well-versed on shootdown procedures.
The CINDACTAS themselves were equipped to modern air control
standards and set up to maintain operational security.
CINDACTA personnel reaffirmed to Embassy visitors that they
do not have shootdown authority and, in the exceedingly
unlikely event an actual shootdown were contemplated, would
depend on instructions from the Commander of the Air Force to
be passed by Air Defense Command Headquarters (COMDABRA).

6. (C) The visit to COMDABRA (ref i) did not result in the
good fortune to witness an intercept as did last year's
visit, but command staff were able to provide post
representatives with a detailed walkthrough of their
procedures using photos taken during intercepts. COMDABRA
staff also provided detailed information to Air Attache on
response times for various areas of the country and air
control staffing procedures. Both during CINDACTA and
COMDABRA visits, controllers for military traffic told post
personnel that although there has never been a shootdown
ordered, the existence of the law has made interdiction of
illicit trafficking by air more effective.

PROGRAM STATISTICS
------------------

7. (C) The Brazilian Air Force is compiling this year's
statistics on the shootdown program. Post will forward these
via septel as soon as they become available.


POST RECOMMENDATION
-------------------

8. (C) As noted in ref b, Brazil has maintained adequate
safety standards since its shootdown law came into effect.
After conducting our annual evaluation of Brazil's program,
we believe that the appropriate safety procedures remain in
place. This year's evaluation has been marked by greater
openess on the part of the Brazilian Air Force, particularly
by hosting multiple visits to Air Control sites. Ref a
noted that the key reason for uncertainty as to Brazilian
safety standards was that "the USG has no direct knowledge of
Brazilian procedures." By providing us with a written
version of its procedures, Brazil has filled this gap and
given us greater confidence in recommending PD renewal. Post
therefore recommends that the Presidential Determination on
the Brazilian Shootdown Law be renewed for 2008.
SOBEL

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