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Cablegate: Ambassador and Vp Santos Discuss Response to Das

VZCZCXYZ0000
PP RUEHWEB

DE RUEHBO #2963/01 2591516
ZNY SSSSS ZZH
P 161516Z SEP 09
FM AMEMBASSY BOGOTA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 0654
INFO RUEHBR/AMEMBASSY BRASILIA 9157
RUEHCV/AMEMBASSY CARACAS 2907
RUEHZP/AMEMBASSY PANAMA 4346
RUEHPE/AMEMBASSY LIMA 0083
RUEHQT/AMEMBASSY QUITO 0081
RHMFISS/CDR USSOUTHCOM MIAMI FL
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC
RUEAWJA/DEPT OF JUSTICE WASHDC
RUCNFB/FBI WASHINGTON DC
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC

S E C R E T BOGOTA 002963

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 09/15/2019
TAGS: PGOV PREL PHUM PINR KJUS ASEC CO
SUBJECT: AMBASSADOR AND VP SANTOS DISCUSS RESPONSE TO DAS
SCANDALS

REF: BOGOTA 2921

Classified By: Ambassador William R. Brownfield, Reasons 1.4 (b,c,d)

SUMMARY
-------

1. (S/NF) The Ambassador met with Vice President Francisco
Santos and Administrative Department of Security (DAS) Director Felipe Munoz on September 15 to discuss DAS wiretapping scandals (reftel). The Ambassador made clear that the USG was close to severing all relations with the DAS. He stressed the need to investigate fully and to proactively address public perception. VP Santos had already reached the same conclusions, and even included dissolving
the DAS as an option. Going forward, the GOC plans to expeditiously transfer the DAS' judicial responsibilities to other agencies, publicly ask an international body (e.g., Interpol) to launch an in-depth investigation, and enlist outside intelligence experts to prepare a roadmap for restructuring DAS and its intel function. The GOC will also consider asking a respected, independent foreign dignitary (such as a former head of state) to lead these investigation and reorganization efforts. Munoz hopes to reschedule his canceled travel to Washington to provide explanations to the State Department and the U.S. Congress. End Summary.

THE USG IS VERY CONCERNED
-------------------------

2. (S/NF) The Ambassador noted continued scandals and leaks from DAS, suggesting illicit and unlawful activity. The GOC has been unable to publicly get out in front of the scandals. He said the USG was close to severing all relations with the DAS, and informed Vice President Santos that he had instructed the Embassy's intelligence and law enforcement agencies to be ready to transfer cooperation and support to other GOC entities. The Ambassador stressed the need to investigate the scandals fully and transparently, and to publicize investigation and restructuring efforts.

VP UNDERSTANDS SITUATION IS DIRE, WANTS TO KNOW WHO IS BEHIND ATTACKS
-----------------------------------
3. (S/NF) VP Santos had already reached the same conclusions
and noted that the remarks by the State Department spokesperson were strong. He said the GOC wanted full investigations and justice, and that any additional scandals would likely force the GOC to close DAS (closure would have to be approved by Congress). He called the DAS' troubles a clear victory for criminals, as DAS operations are frozen and surveillance equipment is under lock and key. He noted that
the DAS has had a series of corruption problems and surveillance scandals over the past decades, but assured the Ambassador that no officially-sanctioned illegal surveillance has occurred since former DAS director Jorge Noguera was fired in November 2007.

4. (S/NF) VP Santos repeatedly stated that he felt an external or internal anti-Uribe force --Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), narcotraffickers, the Cuban government, corrupt DAS employees, or political opposition parties-- was behind the attacks on the DAS. He said this "very dark force" knows it can use the USG and Congress (he named a U.S. Senator) as a pressure point, and feared that Police Intelligence (DIPOL) could be its next target. VP Santos asked for USG help in
identifying those responsible.

ACCELERATING DAS RESTRUCTURING
------------------------------

5. (S/NF) Munoz described plans to restructure DAS, transferring its judicial components to other GOC entities and slashing staff within the next 60 days. VP Santos responded by instructing him to accelerate the process and to do as much as possible within the next week. The Prosecutor General's Office (Fiscalia) must be involved in the transfer
of about 100 pending cases, some of which must remain in DAS
for trial and legal reasons. Munoz will work with prosecutors and USG agencies to immediately transfer as many cases as possible. Munoz said that the cases may be transferred to the CTI (the investigative unit of the Prosecutor General) as an interim measure.

6. (S/NF) The Ambassador said the GOC better have a Plan B. If another DAS scandal erupted, our Plan B was to terminate all association with DAS. Immediately.

PUBLICLY ENLISTING INDEPENDENT HELP
-----------------------------------

7. (S/NF) Taking the Ambassador's advice into account, VP Santos said the GOC would seek to announce by September 21 that it was requesting an international body (e.g., Interpol or the OAS) to launch an in-depth investigation into the DAS scandals. VP Santos is keen to have FBI involvement in the investigation, but the Ambassador warned that any USG participation must be under the umbrella of an international body, and even then we would be very hesitant to participate. The Ambassador stressed that the investigation must have
full access and authority.

8. (S/NF) VP Santos said the GOC would seek the help of several non-DAS intel experts (either from other countries or perhaps retired Colombians) to embed themselves in the DAS and develop a roadmap for restructuring the DAS intel function. He was initially leaning towards the CIA, Scotland Yard and MI-6, but wondered if those entities would accept a public profile. Ambassador was very skeptical about USG
participation.

9. (S/NF) Finally, the GOC will consider asking a respected, independent foreign dignitary (such as a former head of state) to lead these investigation and reorganization efforts. VP Santos was considering both regional and global options, which he'd have to clear with President Uribe. Some of the countries and individuals listed in the initial brainstorm were: Ricardo Lagos (Chile), Vicente Fox (Mexico), Fernando Henrique Cardoso (Brazil), Australia, India, and even Russia or Cuba. The Ambassador pursed his lips severely at the last two.

AMBASSADOR TO ENGAGE URIBE DIRECTLY
-----------------------------------

10. (S/NF) VP Santos noted that President Uribe did not fully understand the depth of the crisis, and recommended that the Ambassador raise the gravity of the situation and ideas on the way forward directly with Uribe. The Ambassador agreed to have that conversation at the earliest opportunity.

RECORDING OF EMBASSY OFFICIAL: IT WASN'T DAS!
---------------------------------------------

11. (S/NF) Turning to the leaked wiretap of a conversation between a magistrate and an Embassy official (reftel), VP Santos and Munoz said the GOC's investigation showed that the recording was done by an outsider. They assured the Ambassador that DAS equipment (both fixed and mobile) could not have been used, and said an independent Russian surveillance expert had studied the matter and reached the
same conclusion. VP Santos said the recording could have been done by anyone, including a disgruntled DAS employee. The Ambassador said that the Embassy's investigation also concluded that DAS equipment was probably not used.

THE NEXT SCANDAL?
-----------------

12. (S/NF) News magazine Semana has received another, not-yet-public leak involving USG intel support for DAS and Ecuador's ties with the FARC. VP Santos said that Foreign Minister Bermudez had already spoken to the Ecuadorian FM in case the story breaks. Although the GOC has asked Semana to refrain from publishing the story for national security reasons, VP Santos thinks it will become public. Munoz noted that the employee who leaked the information was undergoing polygraph testing, and would hopefully be prosecuted quickly. The Ambassador pointed out that he would likely again have
to answer difficult media questions.

COMMENT

-------

13. (S/NF) Santos himself said DAS may be in its death throes. He may be right. The price to restore its public credibility may be higher than the GOC is prepared to pay. Brownfield

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