Cablegate: Request for Crisis Management Training for Vatican
DE RUEHRO #1541 3540856
ZNY SSSSS ZZH
O 190856Z DEC 08
FM AMEMBASSY ROME
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 1346
INFO RUEHROV/AMEMBASSY VATICAN IMMEDIATE 0826
S E C R E T ROME 001541
S/CT FOR ATA PROGRAM MANAGER MIKE MILLER
E.O. 12958: DECL: 12/18/2013
TAGS: PTER ASEC VT
SUBJECT: REQUEST FOR CRISIS MANAGEMENT TRAINING FOR VATICAN
REF: STATE 128554
Classified By: Classified by DCM Liz Dibble for reasons 1.4 (b) and
1. (U) This is an action request. See para 3.
2. (SBU) Action request: Embassy Vatican requests the
Department to explore designing and funding a crisis
management tabletop exercise with the Vatican security
services. The purpose of the exercise is twofold: first, to
enhance the Vatican's ability to respond to a crisis; and,
second, to foster a dialogue with the Vatican on
counter-terrorism. Al-Qaeda has publicly identified the Pope
and the Catholic church as an enemy ("Crusaders"), and
Vatican City attracts hundreds of thousands of American
citizen visitors each year, both tourists and pilgrims. For
example, the Vatican museums welcome up to 25,000 visitors
each day, a substantial number of whom are U.S. citizens.
The RSO, FBI legal attachQ, and regional CT coordinator at
Embassy Rome endorse this proposal, and Embassies Vatican and
Rome are prepared to work with the Vatican officials to shape
the proposal, as appropriate. End Action Request.
3. (S) In recent years, the head of the Vatican Gendarmerie,
Domenico Giani, has on occasion solicited specific security
training from the FBI, most recently seeking explosives
ordnance training for members of the Gendarmerie at Quantico.
But, in general, Giani has been reluctant to engage in a
comprehensive dialogue with the United States about Vatican
capabilities and preparedness to respond to a terrorist
attack. In November 2008, however, Embassy Vatican DCM
Julieta Valls Noyes spoke with Giani and proposed conducting
a joint tabletop exercise on crisis management. Giani
responded positively to this suggestion, which was presented
during a conversation about Al-Qaeda's threat to the Vatican.
4. (C) Comment: Due to the Holy See's sensitivity about
being seen to be too close to any one state, it has been
challenging to foster a security dialogue with Vatican City
officials that includes a comprehensive needs assessment.
This is especially a concern given the high number of
Americans who visit Vatican City each year, the known
Al-Qaeda antipathy to the Pope, and the Vatican's conviction
that its facilities must be easily accessible to all
Catholics. Giani's interest in a crisis management exercise
offers an opportunity to open the door to a more substantial
dialogue that would help the United States be better placed
to help the Vatican prepare to deal with terrorist threats.