Cablegate: Media Play: "Mystery American" Attends Sri
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 COLOMBO 001273
DEPARTMENT FOR INR/MR, I/RW, I/REC; PA
SA/INS (CAMP, WALLER), SA/PD (SCHWARTZ, BRENNIG, SCENSNY),
E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: KPAO OPRC KMDR OIIP CE
SUBJECT: Media Play: "Mystery American" attends Sri
Lankan intelligence meetings?
1. On Sunday, 7/14, readers of the SUNDAY TIMES
(independent English weekender), one of Sri Lanka's mass
circulation newspapers, woke up to front-page, above-the-
fold headlines: "Mystery American at government
intelligence meetings." The gist of the allegation: an
AmCit had participated in meetings of the GSL's
intelligence community. "This ... poses threats to their
own sources of intelligence," a "highly agitated source"
said, and "raises very serious questions over national
security...." The story played throughout the week and
into the following weekend. By 7/20 the AmCit had become a
CIA agent named Bruce Hoffman, and had been joined by one
or more colleagues from India and the UK. President
Kumaratunga, furious at the discovery, had instructed
senior officials to close intelligence meetings to
foreigners. Senior officials, in turn, had admitted the
presence of the AmCit but had insisted that his presence
was important to the "restructuring of the intelligence
unit." Kumaratunga's Peoples Alliance (PA) maintained that
his presence was evidence of "increasing interference" by
the USG as well as a "threat to the security of the
President and our neighbor India." Finally, weekend
reports had the PM's United National Party (UNP) declaring
it "normal practice to obtain the services of foreign
experts," but saying that the Prime Minister would send the
foreigners home "if local intelligence officers think that
foreign expertise is unnecessary." Meanwhile, other
headlines had the foreigners leaving on their own volition,
saying that they would "refuse to get involved in further
activities," while at least one Sinhala daily reported that
the visit had fallen prey to an LTTE plot to curtail the
2. Comment. As often happens in Sri Lankan politics, the
"mysterious American" quickly became a cohabitation
football, with the President's PA alliance "strongly
oppos[ing] the presence of outsiders at such important
meetings" and the PM's UNP insisting that "training of
intelligence personnel by foreign experts has been carried
out for a long time, even during the time of the PA
government." He also became fodder for Sri Lanka's pro-
LTTE interests, most vehemently in the pro-LTTE Tamil
daily, SUDAR OLI, which called him "clear proof that
Premier Ranil's government is being caught in the American
net, little by little" and argued that the government,
while engaged in peace talks for a permanent solution, is
preparing to suppress the liberation war of the Tamils
militarily by strengthening its forces. End comment.
- 7/13: SUNDAY TIMES (independent English weekender),
"Mystery American at govt. intelligence meetings."
- 7/14: THINAKKURAL (independent Tamil daily), "American
officer attending high-level meetings of intelligence
- 7/17: ISLAND (independent English daily), "CBK says 'no'
to foreigners at intelligence meetings"
- 7/18: THINAKKURAL, "President advises not to allow
foreigners in intelligence unit meetings"
- 7/19: THINAKKURAL, "PA accuses U.S. ... of increasing
7/20: SUNDAY LANKADEEPA (independent Sinhala weekender),
"Intelligence re-structure: advisors from three countries
- 7/20: SUNDAY TIMES, "Foreigners in or out: PM asks
Lankan int. chiefs"
- 7/20: SUNDAY THINAKKURAL (independent Tamil weekender),
"Accusation of PA rejected"
- 7/20: SUNDAY VIRAKESARI (independent Tamil weekender),
"Foreign countries came forward to help our intelligence
units ... quit"
- 7/22: LANKADEEPA (independent Sinhala daily),
"Intelligence restructuring: LTTE was instrumental in
getting rid of the advisors -- says Defence Secretary"
5. On 7/18, under the headline "American invasion of
intelligence services," the pro-LTTE SUDAR OLI (independent
Tamil daily) called the alleged incident "clear proof" of
U.S. meddling and the insincerity of the GSL as a peace
"This is a clear proof that Premier Ranil's government is
being caught in the American net, little by little.
"The Government, while engaged in peace talks for a
permanent solution, is preparing to suppress the liberation
war of the Tamils militarily by strengthening its forces.
"As a step in the implementation of this plan, the
government is seeking the fullest support of the U.S.
"Bringing American officers into the intelligence services
is a part of the government's plan to obtain U.S. support
for joint military exercises, sea operations, and weaponry.
"This attempt of the government to pawn the country to a
superpower will lead to further complications, from which
the country will not be able to escape.
"National forces should rise against such government
actions. Will these forces wake up?"
6. On 7/20 the SUNDAY ISLAND (independent English
weekender), whose ruling editorial assumption is that the
GSL is being hoodwinked by the LTTE, said under the
headlines "spectres of indifference," that it found
"utterly incomprehensible the inability or unwillingness of
... officials to protest an act which violates the
constitution of Sri Lanka and endangers her national
security. The total silence of the Minister of Defence ...
is hardly surprising since he has proven beyond reasonable
doubt that his job is not to defend the national interests
of the state of Sri Lanka. However what about the
President, the SLFP and those patriots par excellence, the
JVP? How come they are yet to say a word about this
7. In contrast, the SUNDAY OBSERVER (government-owned
English weekender) took a more sardonic tone. In its
regular "Periscope" column it wondered: "Where else can an
aspiring 007 learn his ropes than at the feet of our
masters! What a privilege he had accorded to our
intelligence gurus. We should have more disciples like
this to strengthen our team. Viva! big brothers and 'big'
sisters." However, "Periscope" also made mention of "U.S.
intelligence success at disrupting the [LTTE's] Cambodian
operation" of arms smuggling, which, "Periscope" said, was
"another 'thorn' in the side [which] further reduces the
efficacy of their 'weapons transfer system.'"