Cablegate: Media Play: "Mystery American" Attends Sri Lankan
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
UNCLAS COLOMBO 001323
DEPARTMENT FOR INR/MR, I/RW, I/REC; PA SA/INS (CAMP, WALLER),
SA/PD (SCHWARTZ, BRENNIG, SCENSNY), SSA/PAS
E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: KPAO OPRC KMDR OIIP CE
SUBJECT: MEDIA PLAY: "Mystery American" attends Sri Lankan
intelligence meetings, II
Ref: Colombo 01273
1. As reported in reftel, from 7/14 through 7/22 Sri Lankan
newspapers had a field day reporting that an AmCit -- a
"mysterious American" -- had participated in meetings of the GSL's
intelligence community. Several dailies carried straightforward
coverage of the allegation. Others treated the story as a
"cohabitation" saga, further evidence of the ongoing spat between
President Kumaratunga and the UNP government. Still others
characterized the American's alleged presence as an anti-LTTE
2. The story has garnered additional attention since 7/22. On
7/23, under the headline "Bug Them: U.S. Spy Advisor," the
independent English DAILY MIRROR (7/23) reported in the style of
the NATIONAL ENQUIRER that "powerful sections in the Government
have requested security services to tap telephones of a few senior
government ministers and MPs in view of the unstable political
situation prevailing in the country.... It is learnt that
telephones of certain ministers are being tapped and a weekly
report is to be submitted which in turn is to be handed over to
[the] American advisor...."
3. The saga received a different spin on 7/29 when the ISLAND
(independent English daily) editorialized under the headline
"Gung-ho and the National Security Council." The ISLAND's
positions: one, "we do not know whether involvement of foreigners
could worsen or improve the past and present performances of the
[National Security] Council. But the NSCs of the past have failed
to rise up to the challenges and brought disaster to this
country;" two, although it is feared that foreign presence will
lead to leaks, "this fear is unfounded because in our open mouthed
society ... secrets of the nation ... are leaked out ... by
officials in the council itself!"
The fact that in about 25 years a rag-tag band of youth has been
able to resist the three professional armed services and the
police and build themselves up to a conventional army while
establishing a financial establishment stretching from Europe to
the Far East, including an international shipping line speaks
volumes of the failure of our military, defence and diplomatic
establishments of which the NSC is a key component.
Internationally, it is apparent that either we did not have a
regular intelligence service, which was of absolute necessity with
the terrorist net spreading globally for the past two decades or
those whom we deployed for intelligence were of no use. Nor have
we been able to liase effectively with intelligence services of
foreign nations which were much better informed about the
international terrorist activities of the LTTE....
The fear of having foreigners in sittings of the National Security
Council is that confidential information being leaked out. This
fear is unfounded because in our open mouthed society where the
secrets of the nation discussed in the National Security Council
are leaked out to the national press, quite obviously by officials
in the council itself!
Officials who want to smear their predecessors or successors find
it quite convenient to leak information to damn their arch foes
irrespective of the damage it would do to the country. Arms
merchants could provide detailed reports of discussions of the
We do not know whether involvement of foreigners could worsen or
improve the past and present performances of the council. But the
NSCs of the past have failed to rise up to the challenges and
brought disaster to this country.
All the gung-ho about foreigners being involved in intelligence
matters can be appreciated but the native sons have failed
miserably so far. The NSC has to be reconstituted and new defence
and intelligence strategies thought of. By whom is the question.
5. End excerpts.