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Cablegate: Iraq; Cia Secret Prisons; Us-Venezuela; President

VZCZCXYZ0029
OO RUEHWEB

DE RUEHBU #2183/01 2691747
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 261747Z SEP 06
FM AMEMBASSY BUENOS AIRES
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 6014
INFO RHMFISS/CDR USSOCOM MACDILL AFB FL//SCJ2//
RULGPUA/USCOMSOLANT

UNCLAS BUENOS AIRES 002183

SIPDIS

STATE FOR INR/R/MR, I/GWHA, WHA, WHA/PDA, WHA/BSC,
WHA/EPSC
CDR USSOCOM FOR J-2 IAD/LAMA

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: KPAO OPRC KMDR PREL MEDIA REACTION
SUBJECT: IRAQ; CIA SECRET PRISONS; US-VENEZUELA; PRESIDENT
KIRCHNER'S VISIT TO THE US; US-ARGENTINE TIES; THAILAND; 09/25/06;
BUENOS AIRES


1. SUMMARY STATEMENT

Weekend papers report on a confidential intelligence report about
the impact of the US global war on terrorism; the CIA secret
prisons; a diplomatic incident between the US and Venezuela;
President Nestor Kirchner's trip to the US and its impact on the
US-Argentine bilateral relationship; and the coup d'etat in
Thailand.

2. OPINION PIECES

- "Bush is troubled due to a report on Iraq"

Daily-of-record "La Nacion" reports (09/25) "Only six months away
from legislative elections, a confidential report from 16
intelligence agencies has been leaked and has sparked strong
controversy in the US and could well damage the image of President
George W. Bush even further.

"The document related to the impact of the global war on terrorism,
which is part of a national assessment on intelligence data, was
made public yesterday by The New York Times and The Washington Post
newspapers and it could be devastating for Bush...

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"According to the report, the war helped create a new generation of
radicalized Muslims and the terrorist threat has increased since the
September 11 attacks. The report also refers to the conflict in
Iraq as the most important tool for recruiting Islamic extremists.

"Blair Jones, a White House spokesperson, said yesterday that the
government 'will not make any comments on secret documents.'

"According to Peter Watkins, another spokesperson, the USG is not
planning to alter its anti-terrorist strategy. 'We have said that
terrorists are determined. Maintaining pressure and remaining on the
offensive is the best way to win the war.'

"However, the presidential entourage's concern was more than
tangible yesterday because the report was made public only six weeks
away from legislative elections. The intelligence document destroys
a pillar of the GOP political campaign - that the 2003 invasion of
Iraq and the removal of Saddam Hussein made the US a safer country.

"The political repercussions for Bush could be serious given that
the report, which was titled 'Trends in World Terrorism -
Implications for the US,' is the outcome of the combined analysis of
16 intelligence services of the government, and this implies it is
not the work of a political party."

- "The US defends CIA secret prisons"

Leonardo Mindez, on special assignment in Washington for leading
"Clarin," writes (09/25) "The White ouse again defended CIA secret
prisons in several parts of the world, a tool that was rejected by
human rights organizations and defined by some as the 'dirty war' on
terrorism.

"... As a matter of fact, ever since The Washington Post reported on
these secret prisons in November 2005, the USG consistently denied
their existence until President Bush unexpectedly recognized their
existence on September 6... The presidential confession occurred
following several judicial retreats related to the procedures he
promotes in the global war on terrorism..."

- "The US apologizes with Venezuelan FM due to an incident"

Leonardo Mindez, on special assignment in Washington for leading
"Clarin," writes (09/25) "Paradoxically, during the same week Hugo
Chavez called US President Bush a 'devil' at the UN General
Assembly, the USG had to apologize to the Venezuelan government. If
the Bolivarian leader had planned it, he could not have obtained a
better outcome.

"Yesterday, the US Department of State's spokesperson, Gonzalo
Gallegos, said 'The USG apologizes to Minister Maduro and the
Venezuelan Government.' Last Saturday night, the White House had
denied the incident. The brief communiqu was released after an
incident involving FM Nicolas Maduro when he tried to take a flight
from Miami to Caracas at New York's JFK Airport."

- "Investment in credibility"

Ricardo Kirschbaum, editor of leading "Clarin," writes (09/249 "Does
President Nestor Kirchner's visit to New York represent a turning
point in Argentina's foreign policy or does a policy that was
darkened by fireworks acquire greater visibility?

"Regardless of some points of disagreement, the US-Argentine
relationship has not suffered major trauma. Washington took an
understanding position with Argentina even at the worst moments of
the Argentine default.

"Kirchner seems to be willing to improve his dialogue with the White
House, which is certainly distant following the SOA frictions...

"The President made a series of gestures aimed at demonstrating that
he is not a militant anti-capitalist but a heterodox capitalist who
wants to better distribute profits. This is why, the President
agreed to ring the bell on Wall Street... and said that he found an
'understanding' approach from the US official in charge of Latin
America."

"His relationship with Chavez is the milestone for Washington."

- "A complex relationship with the White House"

Leading "Clarin" reports (09/25) "When Thomas Shannon presented
himself at Capitol Hill for his confirmation hearing as US official
in charge of Latin American affairs, he said that Hugo Chavez would
be 'one of the toughest challenges of his job' and that he was
willing to confront him in 'a battle of ideas.'

"Chavez's insults of President Bush achieved the unusual effect
that, during an election campaign, both Republicans and Democrats
joined to defend the US President. Democrat Nancy Pelosi called
Chavez 'a mere hooligan.'

"The offensive of the US leaders against Chavez is not accidental,
in fact, they fear that the Venezuelan president could become a
dangerous influence on the governments of the region...

"Yesterday, Chavez said he expects to use his seat at the UN
Security Council to oppose US aspirations to put an end to the
world.' As many analysts told 'Clarin,' the fight for that seat
between Venezuela and Guatemala seems now a referendum in favor or
against the US."

- "Kirchner spoke with Shannon about recovering the US-Argentine
relationship"

Walter Curia, on special assignment in New York for leading
"Clarin," writes (09/23) "... US Assistant Secretary for Western
Hemispheric Affairs, or to be clear, Bush's man for the region,
Thomas Shannon, and President Nestor Kirchner had a 40-minute
'intense dialogue,' which is aimed at recovering the US-Argentine
relationship.

"It is not unwarranted to say that their meeting, in the framework
of the Council of the Americas' dinner, ended up being the high
point of the end of President Kirchner's visit to New York, which
was not supposed to include any contact with the members of the Bush
administration...

"Kirchner said of Shannon 'I saw in him an inclination to build a
different relationship with Argentina. He understands that we should
talk about the issues on which there is disagreement (sic).'

"Shannon told Kirchner what the US expected from him - he mentioned
again the importance of the recovery of Argentina and Brazil, and
the 'stabilizing' influence of the two countries and the political
balance of the region."

- "Argentina's ties with the US are more flexible"

Hugo Alconada Mon, Washington-based correspondent for
daily-of-record "La Nacion," comments (09/23) "Gestures of detente
and rapprochement with the US came back and forth in recent days,
and for the first time in almost one year those gestures were
convincing for President Nestor Kirchner. According to official
sources, Argentina's ties with the White House will remain tense and
carry profound disagreement, but both countries will make progress
on bilateral and regional issues of interest to both governments.

"Bolivia and Venezuela are the main topics of a common agenda. Also,
the role to be played by Argentina and Brazil to stabilize South
America, which Washington promotes based on its own needs...

"Kirchner said 'the dialogue with Shannon was surprisingly
positive.' I saw him willing to build a different relationship with
Argentina and with Latin America.

"Washington closely follows what happens in Caracas and La Paz. This


is why, one of Shannon's goals is that both Kirchner and Lula play a
'stabilizing role' in South America.

"Kirchner marked a clear difference between Shannon and his
predecessor, Roger Noriega, a more confrontational man..."

- "A rapprochement that started with the Argentine payment of the
debt to the IMF"

Ana Baron, Washington-based correspondent for leading "Clarin,"
writes (09/23) "Following the 2005 Mar del Plata Summit of the
Americas, all expectations indicated that the US-Argentine bilateral
relationship had entered a black tunnel from which it would hardly
get out. Today, less than one year later, there is a noticeable
rapprochement between the two countries.

"Argentina's payment of its debt owed to the IMF has released
tension in bilateral ties...

"According to a source of the Economy Ministry, Miceli believes that
the payment of Argentina's debt to the Paris Club will further
promote the normalization of Argentina's ties with the US Department
of Treasury.

"As a matter of fact, the prevailing climate at the US Department of
State vis-`-vis Argentina started to improve as a result of Roger
Noriega's replacement, Thomas Shannon as US Assistant Secretary for
Western Hemispheric Affairs. Shannon managed to put a brake on the
polarization that was being observed in the area, which had its
highest point at the SOA. In contrast to his predecessor, Shannon is
implementing a policy in the region that focuses on agreement rather
than disagreement. In this regard, Kirchner got it right when he
said that during this trip he perceived an effort from the US to
establish a different relationship with the hemisphere and
particularly with Argentina.

"... In fact, turbulence has moved now to the US private sector,
which, in exchange for its investment, is asking Kirchner what the
IMF used to ask from him in the past - to increase public service
rates and provide a more stable regulatory framework. This
arm-wrestling has just started."

- "A president's public gestures"

Joaquin Morales Sola, political columnist of daily-of-record "La
Nacion," writes (09/24) Presidents Nestor Kirchner and George W.
Bush are likely not to see each other again. Neither of them is
interested in the other. Kirchner found a bizarre formula - he
prefers to act cold and aloof with Bush and manage the relationship
with US Assistant Secretary Tom Shannon...

"Bush has never prevented his administration from making progress on
deals with any other government, though subject to one condition -
he does not want to personally meet the leaders who have personally
disappointed him. It has not always been like this with Kirchner.
They met a few times, but had established a cordial relationship.
Guided by his intuition, Bush trusted Kirchner more than his
administration for some time.

"It was like this until a scandal occurred in Mar del Plata.
Kirchner organized a summit, funded a counter-summit and lashed at
the US president in a speech... Bush will never forget it. Will
Washington's permanent political top brass forget it?

"Kirchner sees a weak president in Bush in and outside of the US,
who has started the final stage of his political career. Argentina
no longer owes anything to the IMF, in which Washington has
influenced in favor of the country many times. A cold attitude
towards Bush is now a low-cost policy...

"However, Kirchner enthusiastically re-launched a relationship with
Washington in a meeting with A/S Shannon. Kirchner is like this - he
prefers Shannon rather than Bush...

""Kirchner does owe a favor to Chavez. Chavez's speech at the UN
took positions to such extremes that the other rebel leaders in the
world passed unnoticed."

- "Speculation in New York about (Kirchner's) re-election"

Left-of-center "Pagina 12's" New York-based correspondent Fernando
Cibeira writes (09/24) "President Nestor Kirchner told a member of
the delegation that accompanied him during his trip to the US
'everyone discounted that we will continue.' He was referring to his
meetings with Assistant Secretary for Western Hemispheric Affairs,
Thomas Shannon, and with US businessmen in New York and the


questions made about next year's elections...

"It makes sense that investors want to know whether the president
will be re-elected... Kirchner gave way to speculation about an
eventual candidacy of his wife, Senator Cristina Fernandez. He also
mentioned that political conversations in New York dismissed the
candidacy of former Economy Minister Roberto Lavagna."

- "A trip under Chavez's shadow"

Eduardo van der Kooy, political columnist of leading "Clarin,"
writes (09/24) "... The US Department of State keeps insisting on
the need not to isolate Argentina and Kirchner in a region where
Hugo Chavez's influence is increasing and Bolivia is a real riddle.
This was one of the key reasons for the meeting between US Assistant
Secretary Thomas Shannon, Alberto Fernandez and Julio De Vido.

SIPDIS

"... Did the Argentine Government seek a meeting with Shannon?
Versions differ. Alberto Fernandez asserted that Shannon showed
interest in holding talks. Diplomatic sources have said that he
Argentine government promoted the meeting. One week's stay in New
York without a meeting with the political top brass would have had a
negative impact."

- "Latin America slams US and EU bickering"

Liberal, English-language "Buenos Aires Herald's" "World Trade"
supplement reports (09/25) "Latin American trade officials on Friday
criticized the US and Europe for the collapse of world trade talks,
saying their bickering over how to cut tariffs and subsidies to
farmers was 'an excuse to do nothing.'

"Trade representatives from ten Latin American countries met this
week in Australia with counterparts from eight other nations as the
Cairns Group of agricultural exporting nations.

"Their aim was to help revive the WTO's Doha Round talks, which were
suspended in July amid disagreements over cuts to trade barriers
protecting farmers.

"In their final communiqu of issues Friday, the minister attending
the Cairn s meeting called on Washington, the EU and other
industrialized countries 'to take the necessary steps to resume
negotiations no later than November.'"

- "Thailand - the dangers posed by the return of a coup-d'etat
trend"

Oscar Raul Cardoso, international analyst of leading "Clarin,"
writes (09/23) "Can a coup d'etat be considered good news some
time?

"The removal of the Bangkok's government reopens a chapter that was
supposed to be closed for ever and it reveals that democracy does
not arrive once and for ever.

"... The temptation to say yes to the question (of the first
paragraph) is as strong as dangerous. Someone could believe that the
removal of PM Shinawatra is a sort of equivalent of Italian Silvio
Berlusconi's recent defeat in elections. However, the return of the
ghost of coup d'etats is possible in an era of increasing social
discontent and democracies that are being hostages to a global
economic order that will hardly look like good news."

3. EDITORIALS

- "How to attract investment"

Daily-of-record "La Nacion" editorializes (09/23) "...
During his visit to the US, President Nestor Kirchner promised at
the New York Stock Exchange... clear rules for investors...

"Kirchner was far from impressing US businessmen. Arrogance
and tough style are far from being the style liked by
investors... On the contrary, the tough reaction of The Wall Street
Journal and Financial Times against the Argentine President was
really impressive.

"... It will be vital for the president to understand that messages
of barricade abroad, which are meant for public audiences,
contribute very little to the reestablishment of the confidence in
the country.

"We hope that the promises he made in New York to businessmen will
not only be statements of good will but will be reflected in
ordinary governmental policy instead.

"A strengthened judicial security, the respect for agreements, a
high fiscal surplus that will allow the government to meet its
commitments without resorting to indebtedness and control of public
expenditures are central issues that the Kirchner administration has
to guarantee, with the purpose of rebuilding the confidence of
investors in the country."

To see more Buenos Aires reporting, visit our
classified website at:
http://www.state.sqov.gov/p/wha/buenosaires

MATERA

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