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Cablegate: Prosecutor General's Office Officials Polygraphed;

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

070028Z Apr 04

id: 15777
date: 4/7/2004 0:28
refid: 04BOGOTA3619
origin: Embassy Bogota
classification: SECRET
destination: 04BOGOTA2313
header:
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

070028Z Apr 04


----------------- header ends ----------------

S E C R E T SECTION 01 OF 03 BOGOTA 003619

SIPDIS

DOJ: PLEASE PASS TO DAAG MARY LEE WARREN

E.O. 12958: DECL: 04/06/2014
TAGS: ASEC KCRM KJUS PGOV PHUM PINR PREL PTER SNAR
SUBJECT: PROSECUTOR GENERAL'S OFFICE OFFICIALS POLYGRAPHED;
ANTI-CORRUPTION UNIT ESTABLISHED

REF: A. BOGOTA 02313

B. BOGOTA 03618

Classified By: Ambassador William B. Wood for reasons 1.4 (b)
and (d).

-------
Summary
-------

1. (S) Embassy has raised U.S. concerns about corruption in
the Prosecutor General's Office ("Fiscalia") with the
Prosecutor General ("Fiscal General") many times in recent
weeks, including several at the ambassadorial level. As a
result, Prosecutor General Luis Camilo Osorio directed a
number of senior officials and members of key specialized
units to be polygraphed. Although the pass rate was nearly
80 percent, some key officials failed and many others did not
show up to take the exam. Osorio is facing significant
push-back within the Fiscalia, including a public letter of
protest from some officials, an attempt to form a labor union
to address the issue, and public criticism of perceived U.S.
"intrusiveness." In order to advance the process, Osorio
voluntarily took a polygraph test himself, and passed.
Osorio has agreed to remove officials refusing to take a
polygraph test or failing one from units and programs working
with USG agencies. We have strongly recommended that he fire
and initiate investigations into officials who failed
polygraph questions, or did not take the exam, to determine
if they are guilty of serious criminal activities. Although
he says that the bulk of those failing or refusing to take a
polygraph will be fired, he insists that he does not have
legal authority to dismiss officials solely on the basis of a
polygraph. Osorio has agreed, however, to transfer anyone
failing or refusing to take the exam to non-sensitive
positions in the 18,000-person Fiscalia. He also has agreed
to make clear to applicants for sensitive positions,
including the new internal investigation/prosecution unit,
that taking and passing a polygraph will be necessary to get
the job. Osorio said he will try to provide a list of such
sensitive positions to DAAG Mary Lee Warren when he sees her
on April 12. End Summary.

----------
Background
----------

2. (S) In meetings in March and April, DAAG Mary Lee Warren,
Emboffs, and the Ambassador met several times with Prosecutor
General ("Fiscal General") Luis Camilo Osorio to discuss
concerns about paramilitary and narcotrafficking-related
corruption in the Prosecutor General's Office ("Fiscalia").
As reported in ref A, we called for all senior officials in
the Fiscalia to be polygraphed, and for Osorio to establish
an internal investigation/prosecution unit. Osorio said he
would implement the recommendations.

------------------------
Polygraphs and Push-back
------------------------

3. (C) During the week of March 22-27, FBI polygraphers
conducted examinations on members of eight units in the
Prosecutor General's Office. Four of these units receive
significant USG technical assistance: the Anti-Narcotics and
Maritime Interdiction Unit (UNAIM), the Witness Protection
Program, the Anti-Kidnapping Unit, and the Financial Analysis
Unit (UIAF). Additionally, officials from the Copyright
Protection Unit, senior appellate-level prosecutors from
Bogota and the surrounding department of Cundinamarca, and
other senior prosecutors in charge of various departments
throughout the country were tested. The polygraph
examinations included questions about ties to criminal
organizations (paramilitaries, guerrillas, and
narcotrafficking groups), drug use, improper handling of
cases and evidence, corruption, and bribery. In total, 125
officials, including Osorio, were tested.

4. (C) Twenty-one percent of the officials tested failed.
The UNAIM director tested "inconclusive" and refused to
retake the exam. There were also a large number of no-shows,
primarily appellate level prosecutors. Of the senior
district court prosecutors, seventy percent were no-shows.
Approximately, thirty percent of district prosecutors who
took the exam failed it.
5. (C) In reaction to press stories and the sudden
requirement for polygraphing, many Fiscalia officials have
begun to push back. Some members of UNAIM sent Osorio -- and
then the press -- a letter opposing polygraph exams as an
intrusion into their personal lives (Osorio has since ruled
out questions on sexual practices, etc.), as a violation of
the presumption of innocence, as inconsistent with the
national constitution and several treaties signed by
Colombia, and as introducing "foreign police agents" into the
internal affairs of the Fiscalia (ref B). The letter also
protested investigatory or disciplinary actions against
Fiscalia officials, of whom several were on our "must look
into" list. Osorio says there also has been an attempt to
form a labor union inside the Fiscalia to oppose his
measures, but he doubts it will come to anything. Osorio
himself bridles at insinuations that he is in any way
corrupt, blaming rumors to that effect on backlash from
previous decisions, partisan politics (he is the first
Conservative Party Prosecutor General in a decade), and
confusion about who is the genuine author of controversial
actions. Osorio volunteered to take a polygraph, both to
confirm his virtue and provide a leadership example to the
rest of the Fiscalia. He passed.

----------
Next Steps
----------

6. (C) Embassy has urged Osorio to: (1) dismiss officials who
failed the exam or refused to take it from units or programs
working directly with the USG; (2) investigate officials who
failed the exam to determine if serious criminal offenses are
involved; and (3) continue investigations into the former
administrative director of the Fiscalia ("Director Nacional
de Fiscalias"), Justo Pastor, and Lucio Pabon, former head of
the Witness Protection Program, both of whom recently
resigned under allegations of serious misconduct. Other
suspected officials have been dismissed, including the
Fiscalia's regional directors in the departments of Cesar and
Norte de Santander; decisions on whether to conduct
investigations into their activities are pending. Osorio
asserts he does not have legal authority to dismiss officials
solely on the grounds that they refused to take or did not
pass a polygraph exam. He has promised, however, that
officials refusing to take, or failing, a polygraph would be
removed from sensitive positions, defined as those working
with the U.S., those with high levels of responsibility, or
those in which corrupt outside influences could play a role.
He has promised to develop a list of such positions, ideally
for his Washington meetings the week of April 12. We have
urged that the list include all office directors, district
prosecutors, and senior appellate prosecutors ("Fiscales
Delegados ante la Corte").

7. (C) Osorio has formally established the proposed internal
investigation/prosecution unit. He has identified three
prosecutors for the unit and says he will name investigators
soon. We have emphasized to Osorio that before the USG can
provide evidence and technical cooperation on corruption
cases: (1) all members of the unit must be polygraphed; and
(2) the unit must be "walled-off" so it has the necessary
independence and freedom of action. He has promised that all
jobs in the unit will be considered "sensitive" and therefore
require polygraphing.

-------
Comment
-------

8. (C) Osorio continues to resist the toughest U.S. urging:
immediate dismissal of anyone refusing to take, or failing to
pass, a polygraph exam. The police, military, and
intelligence services do not polygraph all their members, but
only those in sensitive positions or who work with us.
Within the 18,000-person Fiscalia, there is room to transfer
suspect officials to less sensitive positions.
WOOD

=======================CABLE ENDS============================

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