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Cablegate: Uribe Informs Ambassador of Das Investigation Developments

VZCZCXYZ0018
OO RUEHWEB

DE RUEHBO #3035/01 2651334
ZNY SSSSS ZZH
O R 221334Z SEP 09
FM AMEMBASSY BOGOTA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 0047
INFO RHEHAAA/NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL WASHINGTON DC
RHMFISS/CDR USSOUTHCOM MIAMI FL
RHMFISS/FBI WASHINGTON DC
RUEABND/DEA HQS WASHINGTON DC
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHINGTON DC
RUEAWJA/DEPT OF JUSTICE WASHINGTON DC
RUEHBR/AMEMBASSY BRASILIA 0013
RUEHCV/AMEMBASSY CARACAS 0013
RUEHLP/AMEMBASSY LA PAZ SEP LIMA 0013
RUEHQT/AMEMBASSY QUITO
RUEHZP/AMEMBASSY PANAMA 0013

S E C R E T BOGOTA 003035

NOFORN
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 2019/09/22
TAGS: PGOV KJUS PREL PHUM PINR ASEC CO
SUBJECT: Uribe Informs Ambassador of DAS Investigation Developments

REF: BOGOTA 3018 AND PREVIOUS

CLASSIFIED BY: William R. Brownfield, Ambassador; REASON: 1.4(B),
(C), (D)

SUMMARY
-------
1. (S/NF) President Alvaro Uribe emphasized to the Ambassador and
DCM on September 21 that he is determined to get to the bottom of
the scandals surrounding the Administrative Department of Security
(DAS) (see reftels). New evidence indicates that the orders for
improper wiretaps, including of an auxiliary magistrate (and his
leaked conversation with a U.S. Embassy official), were obtained
through legal channels. As DAS Director Felipe Munoz foreshadowed
three days earlier, Uribe has begun the process of dismantling the
DAS and reassigning its functions to other entities, and would welcome international assistance in standing up a leaner intelligence agency. The scandals turned the DAS into a domestic and international liability. Per Munoz, the DAS' judicial functions will be transferred to the Colombian National Police (CNP) and the Prosecutor General's Office. The CNP will also take over the Interpol role, and the CNP or Ministry of Interior and Justice will assume responsibility for protecting at-risk
individuals. The Ambassador welcomed the decision to dismantle the
DAS and Uribe's commitment to fully investigate the scandals.
Munoz hopes to meet with USG officials in Washington on November
5-6. End Summary.


PERMISSION FOR IMPROPER WIRETAPS WAS LEGALLY OBTAINED
-----------------------------

2. (SBU) President Uribe emphasized to the Ambassador and DCM on
September 21 that he is determined to get to the bottom of the
scandals surrounding the Administrative Department of Security
(DAS). Uribe was accompanied by Defense Minister Gabriel Silva,
Colombian National Police (CNP) Chief Oscar Naranjo, DAS Director
Felipe Munoz, Vice Foreign Minister Clemencia Forero, and MFA North
American Affairs Coordinator Adriana Maldonado.

3. (S/NF) An extremely animated and agitated Uribe phoned Acting
Prosecutor General Guillermo Mendoza at the top of the meeting to
ask for an update on his investigation into the DAS wiretap scandal
--which Uribe set to speakerphone for the Ambassador to hear.
Mendoza reported that Prosecutor General's Office investigators had
found two signed judicial orders regarding two distinct cases, one
a kidnapping case and the other an extortion case. The orders
listed Auxiliary Magistrate Ivan Velasquez' cellular telephone
number as a target in those cases. The legal judicial order
carried the signatures of prosecutors from Bogota and Fusagasuga,
Cundinamarca.

IT IS UNCLEAR WHO IS BEHIND THE WIRETAP REQUESTS
---------------------------
4. (S/NF) Mendoza continued that investigators must now determine
why the prosecutors signed the orders. The intercept requests came
from the Prosecutor General's Technical Investigation Corps (CTI)
and the CNP's anti-kidnapping police (GAULA), Mendoza said. (Note:

Separately, DEA Bogota obtained copies of the orders, which show
that the improper wiretaps were legally obtained. End note.)
Prosecutor General Mendoza explained that the intercepts from these
numbers were the source of the recordings leaked to the news weekly
"Semana," including the recorded conversation between Velasquez and
a U.S. Embassy official. In response to Uribe's query, Mendoza
said that his office has not determined who leaked the recordings
to Semana.

5. (S/NF) DAS Director Munoz said that his investigation found that
prosecutors in Leticia and Choco had been colluding with DAS
officials to illegally tap telephones. However, the investigation
remained open. MOD Silva offered that he has received indications
that prosecutors involved in the Velasquez case received illegal
payments to bank accounts in the United States. However, he has
not yet determined who had made the payments or why. Silva asked
for the Ambassador's help in tracking down the details. The
Ambassador agreed, but stressed that all such assistance must flow
through law enforcement channels. Munoz and CNP Director Naranjo
explained that the wiretap judicial order went through the GOC
consolidated judicial wire intercept program "Esperanza." While
DAS is a consumer of Esperanza products through its judicial police
function, it does not control or administer Esperanza. Munoz said
that he has audited the DAS terminal that receives Esperanza
products but not the central Esperanza program or other customers.

URIBE COMMITTED TO A FULL INVESTIGATION
---------------------------------------
6. (S/NF) An impassioned Uribe said that the legal document put the
scandal in an entirely different light. He urged Prosecutor
General Mendoza to call a press conference and explain this new
development. Uribe recalled that German Chancellor Angela Merkel,
UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (UNHCHR) Navy Pillay, and
President Obama had expressed their concerns about the DAS to him
and that his administration has been under a cloud as a result of
it. He wanted this revelation known before he saw world leaders on
the margins of UNGA. Uribe excoriated Munoz for his failure to
resolve the scandal months earlier and for the delay in discovering
the legal wiretap order.

7. (S/NF) Uribe agreed with the Ambassador that a thorough and
transparent investigation into past DAS misdeeds is vital. He
stressed that the GOC will clarify what happened in the past and
punish those responsible. Uribe reiterated his comments from
September 19 to the press that a conspiracy of extradited former
paramilitary leaders and current criminals was conspiring to impugn
the credibility of the government. He said that the past six
months has been an ordeal for him, with many questioning his
honesty. President Uribe said that he would get to the bottom of
the scandal to demonstrate his own and his government's honesty and
credibility.

INTERNATIONAL HELP IN REFORMING INTEL
-----------------------------------

8. (S/NF) In response to the Ambassador's suggestion, Uribe said
that the GOC would welcome technical help to organize the successor
agency to the DAS from Interpol or another competent international
agency. Uribe rejected creating an eminence gris panel to advise
on the new agency, saying the problems were technical and not political.

9. (S/NF) On September 18, Munoz told the Ambassador that the DAS
has prepared an inventory of cases that it works with U.S. law enforcement through its vetted units, and will transfer those cases to other institutions in an orderly way and in close coordination with Embassy law enforcement attaches. Munoz said that the GOC has
drafted a new policy document on intelligence and promised the Ambassador a copy of the draft. Munoz said that the Australian and
British governments have offered help in organizing the new
intelligence agency, and that USG help would be welcome.

10. (C) Munoz said he and Vice President Francisco Santos plan to
travel to Washington for private meetings with the Inter-American
Human Rights Commission on November 5-6, and he hopes to meet with
USG officials at that time. The Ambassador said he would discuss
the possibility of such meetings with Munoz in few weeks, but could
not recommend meetings with USG officials for the moment.


LOSS OF INTERNATIONAL CONFIDENCE DOOMS DAS
------------------------------------------
11. (S/NF) Under instructions from Uribe, Munoz had called on the
Ambassador on September 18 to relay Uribe's decision to abolish the
DAS. Munoz explained that the DAS had become both a domestic and
international liability. He conceded that in his eight months leading the DAS, he had failed to show the public that he was making progress in reforming the troubled department. The recent wiretap revelations coupled with the international loss of confidence in the DAS shown by the Department of State's comments upon the release of the human rights certification, as well as a letter from UNHCHR Pillay, comments by UN Human Rights Special Rapporteur Margaret Seggakya, and OAS officials all combined to cause President Uribe to decide that the DAS has become unsalvageable. The Ambassador stressed that a complete investigation into DAS misdeeds and punishment for those
responsible was essential.

TRANSITIONING AWAY FROM DAS
---------------------------

12. (C) Munoz said the GOC plans to transfer the DAS' judicial police functions to the Colombian National Police (CNP) and the Prosecutor General's Office. The CNP will also take over the Interpol role in Colombia. The CNP or the Ministry of Interior and Justice will assume responsibility for protection of at risk individuals, such as labor and human rights activists who have received threats. Munoz explained that the GOC will submit a bill to Congress on September 22 that abolishes the DAS (which as a cabinet level organization cannot be abolished by executive order) and asks the Congress to allow the President to create a new, much smaller organization focused on intelligence, counter-intelligence and immigration control.


13. (C) For legal reasons, the DAS will continue to have its functions until the new law takes effect. However, the process of transferring responsibility and shutting down the organization would begin immediately, Munoz said. Munoz expected that of the existing 6,500 DAS personnel, 2,000 would be retired or RIFed immediately; and 4,500 could go into other agencies if they met the requirements for those agencies, such as the CNP, Prosecutor General's Office or the new intelligence agency. However, he stressed that most of the employees for the new intelligence agency would be new professionals with no connection to the DAS.
BROWNFIELD

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