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Cablegate: Secretary Chertoff's Trip to Ireland

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P 100723Z DEC 07
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STATE FOR EEB/TRA JOHN BYERLY AND WIN DAYTON

E.O. 12958: DECL: 12/06/2017
TAGS: EAIR ECON EI
SUBJECT: SECRETARY CHERTOFF'S TRIP TO IRELAND


Classified By: DCM Robert Faucher. Reasons 1.4 (b/d).

1. (C) Summary: During his November 28 ) December 2 trip to
Ireland, Secretary for Homeland Security Michael Chertoff met
with Irish Transport Minister Noel Dempsey and Defence
Minister Willie O'Dea together and later with Justice
Minister Brian Lenihan to discuss DHS's proposal to move to
full pre-clearance operations (customs and immigration) at
Shannon and Dublin airports. The Secretary said that the
screening of general aviation (GA) flights would be a
critical part of the agreement. Each Minister indicated
their willingness to work constructively with the USG but
also urged DHS to pass them a draft agreement as soon as
possible. Chertoff promised a draft by the week of December
3 and agreed to a mid-January target for the initial round of
negotiations in Dublin. The Irish government wants to keep
the negotiations as quiet as possible given domestic
political sensitivities, and the Secretary indicated that the
USG would follow the Irish lead on the public affairs side.
Dempsey and Lenihan said that main legal concerns would
center on the detention and search authorities of Customs and
Border Protection (CBP) officials at each airport. Chertoff
agreed but indicated that he felt these issues could be
worked out and emphasized that the draft agreement the Irish
would soon see was not a "final offer" but a starting point
from which to negotiate. End Summary.

Ministers Dempsey and O'Dea
---------------------------

2. (C) On November 29, Secretary Chertoff met with Transport
Minister Noel Dempsey and Defence Minister Willie O'Dea to
discuss the proposal to move to full pre-clearance operations
(customs and immigration) at Shannon and Dublin airports and
the inclusion of the screening of GA flights into the
proposal. Participants:

Transport Minister Noel Dempsey
Defence Minister Willie O'Dea
John Murphy, Asst. Sect. Aviation, Dept of Transport
Tanya Harrington, Special Advisor to the Minister
Ed O'Callaghan, Airports Division, Dept. of Transport
Michael Dreelan, Legal Advisor, Dept. of Transport
Martin Power, Dept. of Justice
Joe Hackett, Head of Consular Section, Dept of Foreign
Affairs
Phonsey Croke, Principal Officer, Customs
Ethna Brogan, Aviation Security, Dept of Transport

Secretary Chertoff

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Ambassador Foley
Paul Rosenzweig, Deputy Assistant Secretary, DHS
Adam Isles, Dep. Chief of Staff, DHS
Andrew Levy, Dep. General Counsel, DHS
Rob Faucher, DCM Embassy Dublin
Juan Soltero, CBP Port Director, Dublin Airport
Dwight Nystrom, Econ Officer, Embassy Dublin
(notetaker)

3. (C) Dempsey said that the Irish were willing to work with
the USG to reach an agreement but he emphasized that they
needed to see a draft text before they could begin serious
discussions. Chertoff promised a draft text to the Irish in
the week beginning December 3. Dempsey said that the initial
round of negotiations could take place in mid-January in
Dublin if they received the text in this time-frame.
However, he said that his Department would (in all
likelihood) need to introduce legislation in connection with
the agreement. The legislation would be introduced, at the
earliest, only between Easter and July 2008, as it was
important to move the negotiations swiftly.

4. (C) Chertoff emphasized that the "real step forward" in
this agreement was the inclusion of GA flights for full
pre-clearance and pointed out the potential economic benefits
to Shannon of including GA. To this, O'Dea (almost to
himself) added "Yes, that's definitely important." (Note:
O'Dea is not only Defence Minister but is also a member of
the Dail (the Irish Parliament) from the Shannon area and has
been particularly vocal in opposing Aer Lingus's recent
decision to transfer its Shannon-Heathrow slots to Belfast.
End Note).

5. (C) Dempsey and O'Dea both counseled that the negotiations
should be held quietly given the sensitivity among a small
minority of Irish citizens over the U.S. military's use of
Shannon airport for transit flights to the Middle East. In
addition, both Ministers pointed out that the U.S. "should
not underestimate the ability of some to make mischief" and
link the (inaccurate) perception that Shannon has been used
for "extraordinary rendition flights" to discussions
surrounding full pre-clearance negotiations. Because of this
and other sensitivities, Dempsey said that it "would be
better to negotiate behind the scenes. After all, when
you're defending, you're losing." Chertoff agreed to follow
the Irish lead.

6. (C) Dempsey laid out the main legal concerns that the
Irish government could foresee: the powers of detention and
the ability of U.S. officials to search. He noted that the
involvement of Irish officials would "make things easier."
As well, he pointed out that customs policy is a competence
of the EU, so Ireland may have to consult with Brussels on
any part of the agreement that touched on customs. He sought
assurances from Chertoff that, if the facilities at the
airports were put in place, DHS would commit the necessary
resources to "provide an adequate level of service."
Chertoff assured Dempsey that they could address the legal
issues through negotiations. He said that, since the move to
pre-clearance involves adding in the customs component, the
USG was not so much concerned with detention issues as with
the ability to search passengers and their belongings.

Justice Minister Lenihan
------------------------

7. (C) On November 30, Secretary Chertoff met with Irish
Justice Minister Brian Lenihan. Participants:

Justice Minister Brian Lenihan
Ed O'Callaghan, Airports Division, Dept. of Transport
Martin Power, Dept. of Justice
Joe Hackett, Head of Consular Section, Dept of Foreign
Affairs
Ken O'Leary, Asst Secretary of Security, Dept of
Justice
Paddy Forsyth, Dept. of Justice

Secretary Chertoff

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Ambassador Foley
Paul Rosenzweig, Dep. Asst. Secretary, DHS
Adam Isles, Dep. Chief of Staff, DHS
Andrew Levy, Dep. General Counsel, DHS
Dwight Nystrom, Econ Officer, Embassy Dublin
(notetaker)

8. (C) As in the November 29 meeting with Ministers Dempsey
and O'Dea, Chertoff emphasized that the most important
element of the agreement was the inclusion of GA flight
screening. He said that the USG would like to have access to
the same Passenger Name Record information for GA flights as
it currently has for commercial flights (passenger names,
crew data, etc.) and to be able to scan planes for radiation
well before they entered U.S. airspace. In that regard, he
said Shannon Airport was an ideal location.

9. (C) Chertoff indicated that the Irish would receive the
draft agreement next week but added that his department had
to complete interagency negotiations first. Chertoff said
that Shannon would be the first European "hub" for the
screening of GA flights. Lenihan was quite interested in the
economic benefits stemming from the proposal and welcomed
this information.

10. (C) Lenihan reiterated the Irish government's willingness
to reach an understanding but said that they need to see the
"details of the plan first." He noted that both governments
need to be mindful of the public relations aspect of any
agreement and that they need to spend "some time talking
about how the announcement could be sequenced." Lenihan
continued that it would be best to keep the negotiations
quiet.

11. (C) Lenihan said it appeared the chief U.S. concern was
screening of GA planes. Chertoff agreed but added that being
able to search passengers was also a priority. Chertoff said
that he saw the USG's role at the two airports as being very
simple -- "you're either allowed in or not allowed in." He
said, of course, that if a passenger were refused entry in
Shannon or Dublin, CBP would inform the Garda (police) to
enable them to take appropriate action. He continued, saying
that the real trick will be putting in place the mechanisms
that will allow for this sort of open communication.
Chertoff emphasized that the draft agreement the Irish would
soon see was not a "final offer" but a starting point from
which to negotiate.

12. (C) In a later conversation with the Ambassador, Chertoff
said that the draft agreement and the negotiations on
Circular 175 authority would be discussed at the next
Deputies meeting. He also agreed with the Ambassador's
suggestion to avoid -- as much as possible -- publicly
discussing radiation screening at Shannon, for fear of
alarming the Irish populace and creating further political
difficulties for the Irish government early on in the
negotiations.

13. (U) Secretary Chertoff's staff cleared on this message.
FOLEY

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