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Cablegate: Guidance and Talking Points On Developments in Haiti

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PESU-00 /001R


O 290102Z JAN 10
FM SECSTATE WASHDC
TO ALL DIPLOMATIC AND CONSULAR POSTS COLLECTIVE IMMEDIATE
AMEMBASSY PORT AU PRINCE IMMEDIATE
AMEMBASSY TRIPOLI IMMEDIATE
AMEMBASSY CONAKRY IMMEDIATE

UNCLAS STATE 009107


E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREL KPAO KDEM OIIP HA
SUBJECT: GUIDANCE AND TALKING POINTS ON DEVELOPMENTS IN HAITI
-- 28 JANUARY 2010

REF: A) STATE 8507; B) STATE 7937; C) STATE 7504; D) STATE
5277

TO CHIEFS OF MISSION, DCMS, AND PAOS FROM UNDERSECRETARY
JUDITH McHALE

1. Summary: Most international media have now moved on from
Haiti to other issues, with remaining coverage focused on the
January 27 rescue of a teenage girl and continuing concerns
over aid access. Posts should continue to monitor local
reporting and engage opinion leaders personally when coverage
is inaccurate or mischaracterizes U.S. efforts in Haiti.
While you no longer need to send daily updates on media
coverage on Haiti, you are expected to continue to report
immediately on any developing topics of concern, influential
editorial comment, and new Embassy engagement on Haiti. End
Summary.

2. This message is designed to provide you with key themes,
talking points, and updated facts to help you engage local
audiences and correct misinformation or distortions about
America's efforts in Haiti. The next update will be sent on
January 29.

MEDIA ENGAGEMENT
----------------

3. EMBEDS: The U.S. government, through the Joint Information
Center in Haiti, is now able to offer limited opportunities
for media in Haiti to observe unified humanitarian relief
efforts. Please ask media to contact the Joint Information
Center in Haiti with any specific requests
(HaitiJIC@usaid.gov).

4. PRESS CONFERENCES: On January 27, a new Media Center set
up with help from USAID's Office of Transition Initiatives
held a press conference with the Government of Haiti.
President Preval, Prime Minister Bellerive and Haiti's
Minister of Communications participated, alongside U.S.
Ambassador Merten, Ambassador Lucke of USAID, Joint Task
Force-Haiti Commanding Officer LT GEN Keen, and the Deputy
Special Representative of the UN Secretary General. The event
underscored that the U.S. and other countries are cooperating
closely in support of Haitian government requests for relief
and reconstruction assistance. Fifty journalists attended,
including seven camera crews, with most representing Haitian
outlets.

5. On January 28, Haitian Port Authority Director Evan
Charles and Rear Admiral Samuel Perez, Deputy Director, Joint
Interagency Task Force-South held a press conference to update
media on progress delivering humanitarian aid, food, and
medical supplies from ships to the people of Haiti, as well as
efforts to restore and expand port operations. In addition,
media were invited January 28 to observe distribution of USAID
food commodities at the Petionville Country Club in Port-au-
Prince, where USAID partner Catholic Relief Services is
feeding more than 1,000 families per day with the assistance
of community volunteers.

KEY THEMES FROM TODAY'S GUIDANCE
--------------------------------

6. Key themes for use with the media today, drawn from Joint
Information Center Haiti talking points:

-- At the request of the Haitian government, the U.S.
continues to coordinate America's relief efforts with the
United Nations and the international community.

-- The United States continues to expand and secure our
distribution network in Haiti to deliver additional aid more
quickly to the Haitian people.

-- We are coordinating closely with the UN relief effort and
more than 30 nations and hundreds of NGOs to deliver food,
water and medical assistance quickly throughout the country.

-- The Agency for International Development (USAID) has the
overall lead for the U.S. disaster response in Haiti.

-- While we continue to focus our combined energies on
ensuring U.S. support to life saving and life sustaining
priorities, we are also looking ahead by assisting the Haitian
government and people as they begin the process of
reconstruction and rebuilding.
-- The Government of Haiti, alongside members of the
international community, gathered in Montreal, Canada, on 25
January 2010. Participants recognized the continued
leadership and sovereignty of the Government of Haiti, and we
are consulting closely with all interested parties to mobilize
support and begin planning for a donors conference in New
York.

RECENT DEVELOPMENTS IN HAITI
----------------------------

7. KEY FACTS: From the latest fact sheets on Haiti earthquake
recovery (reflecting the best data now available in an ever-
changing disaster environment):
-- Bottles of water distributed by U.S. teams in the last 24
hours: more than 65,328; total 1,885,791
-- Humanitarian Daily Rations (HDRs) delivered by U.S. teams
in the last 24 hours: over 19,740; total 1,485,309.
-- Medical supplies delivered last 24 hours: 12,553 lbs; total
69,636 lbs
-- Flights: 112 in the last 24 hours (pre-crisis rate was 13).
-- Number of Haitian ports fully operational: nine; three are
partially operational, with work underway to repair them;
another previously opened port has been closed temporarily for
aftershock repair. Both tanker terminals can receive cargo.
-- To date, USAID had contributed nearly $256 million in
humanitarian assistance.
-- In total, the USG has contributed more than $382 million,
including over $106 million to the UN Flash Appeal.

8. SEARCH AND RESCUE OPERATIONS: To date, U.S. SAR teams have
rescued 47 people, while U.S. and other international teams
combined have rescued 134 people. Decisions regarding search
and rescue efforts are made by the Government of Haiti in
consultation with international SAR teams. In coordination
with the GoH and local fire authorities, U.S. SAR teams have
donated a significant cache of their equipment to Haitian
first responders.

COMMUNICATIONS
--------------

9. Haitian police and civilian volunteers, assisted by the
U.S. military, have distributed more than 43,800 U.S.-funded
hand-held radios to survivors of the January 12 earthquake as
part of an overall effort to help reach the people of Haiti
via FM/AM broadcasting of Haiti public service announcements.
The World Health Organization, UN and Government of Haiti are
preparing key health messages and translating them for
dissemination to the public. The small emergency radios are
both solar-powered and hand-cranked, so they do not require
batteries. They also are equipped with a small light. The
radios allow disaster survivors to receive news and important
information concerning international relief efforts and public
safety messages.

10. "Commando Solo," a radio station in the sky provided by
the Pennsylvania Air National Guard, has been helping transmit
AM radio signals to Haiti since the quake to deliver
information, including live broadcasts of VOA news and Creole
call-in shows; this USG effort was covered in a January 26 CNN
website feature:
http://www.cnn.com/2010/TECH/01/26/haiti.flying.radio/index.html


RESPONDING TO CURRENT AREAS OF CONCERN
--------------------------------------

11. THE U.S. ROLE IN HAITI: While overseas media attention on
this issue has waned, a few political figures and media
continue to call the support provided to Haiti by the U.S.
military an "occupation." The following talking points and
statements may be used to respond to inaccurate depictions of
the U.S. role:

-- RENI PREVAL, PRESIDENT OF HAITI (press conference in Port-
au-Prince, Jan. 27, when asked to respond to critics of the
large U.S. role in relief efforts in Haiti): "This is a
distraction. You have your ideological problems; resolve it
yourself. We are talking about people suffering, and you are
talking about politics. All countries facing the same
situation would have accepted the help. I do not see the
problem of sovereignty which we speak."

-- JOSE MIGUEL INSULZA, SECRETARY-GENERAL OF THE ORGANIZATION
OF AMERICAN STATES (press conference in Port-au-Prince, Jan.
27): "The U.S. has enough problems in the world. When there
is an emergency, everyone tries to help. ... Did the Europeans
lose their sovereignty under the Marshall Plan?"

-- KENNETH MERTEN, U.S. AMBASSADOR TO HAITI (interview on
Foreign Policy magazine website, Jan. 27): "The fact of the
matter is the military is here because they have the immediate
capability to bring humanitarian aid to the area. They're
close, they have the capability, that's why they are here . .
. I would suggest that other countries maybe haven't thought
that through."

-- SECRETARY CLINTON (Jan. 26) "Some of the international
press either misunderstood or deliberately misconstrued what
was a civilian and military response, both of them necessary
in order to be able to deliver aid to the Haitians who
desperately needed it. . . The government of Haiti must and
will be in the lead. We cannot any longer in the 21st century
be making decisions for people and their futures without
listening, and without giving them the opportunity to be as
involved and make as many decisions as possible."

12. AIRPORT AND ACCESS ISSUES: Various media continue to
snipe at U.S. "control" of the airport. Posts may draw from
the following facts to set the record straight and correct
false perceptions of decision-making over airport access:

-- On January 26, management of the airfield was transferred
from U.S. Air Force Special Operations to an international
combined military/civilian air traffic control team.

-- Since starting operations until the transfer date, the air
traffic controllers helped bring in 1,465 fixed wing aircraft
and 865 rotary wing aircraft, working from an 18-inch table in
the grassy infield of Port-au-Prince airfield, without a
single aircraft mishap or incident.

-- GORDON DUGUID, JOINT INFORMATION CENTER HAITI (press
briefings, Jan. 27): "Flight priorities are worked out by the
Haitian government in consultation with the air traffic
controllers. It is very much the case that there are three
levels of priority for flights that land at the airport. The
first priority goes to the largest planes. They not only
carry the most cargo, but they are the most difficult to
handle on the ground, and therefore the air traffic
controllers want to deal with them first. The second priority
goes to perishable goods. So if you have a very small craft
carrying a very large cargo of plasma, it gets priority
because it has a perishable cargo. The third priority is one
of safety. Because of the number of planes coming in and the
need to sometimes circle the airport, if the plane is low on
fuel, that gets priority, too. . . The problems that we had
early on were indeed problems of violation of Haitian
sovereignty, where nations in their desire to help were
actually sending aircraft into the national airspace without
filing a flight plan. No nation on earth would tolerate that.
It's a very dangerous thing to do. But it was understandable
given the goodwill that everyone wanted to show. Now everyone
is filing flight plans and following standard air traffic
control processes."

13. AID DISTRIBUTION: Isolated disturbances at food
distribution points continue to draw media attention to the
challenges of aid dispersal in Haiti. You may wish to draw
from the following on-the-record comments to place into
context the challenges all relief organizations now operating
in Haiti face:

-- KENNETH MERTEN, U.S. AMBASSADOR TO HAITI (interview in "The
Cable" blog, Foreign Policy magazine, Jan. 27): "The amount of
food we have is sufficient; the issue is getting it out to
people in a form they can most easily use and eat and getting
it to certain distribution points in sufficient numbers . . .
People need to understand there's a great deal of frustration
among people here. They have to wait longer. Their anger is
understandable; it's unfortunate. . . The infrastructure is a
huge limitation here and there's a lack of appreciation of
what the infrastructure challenges here are and were even
before the crisis occurred."

DISINFORMATION
--------------

14. Disinformation alleging that the Haitian earthquake was
deliberately caused by what is inaccurately described as a
U.S. secret weapon, the High Frequency Active Auroral Research
Program (HAARP), continues to appear in some fringe media,
including "Javan" daily in Iran and "thepeoplesvoice.org." But
some critics are now trying to distance themselves from the
disinformation: The Venezuelan Embassy in the United States
sent a complaint to the website of "Foreign Policy" magazine,
asserting that President Hugo Chavez had never personally
associated himself with the story that an alleged U.S. weapon
had caused the earthquake in Haiti (one of the first
appearances of the disinformation was on the website of a
state-run television station in Venezuela, and attributed
directly to Chavez by ABC newspaper in Spain). Posts should
rely on guidance in Ref B and C to respond to any appearances
of the "secret weapon" earthquake disinformation, and should
report any new disinformation to Task Force 3 (TaskForce-
3@state.gov).

OTHER RESOURCES
---------------

15. A new article on U.S. search and rescue efforts in Haiti
is available on www.america.gov
(http://www.america.gov/st/develop-
english/2010/January/201001280958281ejrehsiF0 .3818476.html?CP.
rss=true). Posts are encouraged to seek opportunities to place
this article and others from America.gov in host country
media. Please report successful placement to your Regional PD
office and to IIP.

16. MEDIA LIGHTHOUSE: The Navy Visual News website
(http://www.chinfo.navy.mil/visualnews/media- lighthouse.html)
provides useful videoclips and photos of U.S. military relief
efforts in Haiti. The system provides a centrally managed
collection of still photography, video, breaking news
features, and topic-specific categories to assist print,
broadcast, and web-based outlets requiring 24/7 access to
current events throughout the U.S. Navy. Feature databases
typically contain broadcast-quality video (including reduced
resolutions for preview and web-based venues), high-res still
photos, PDF files and Microsoft Word documents (i.e. press
releases). A log-on is needed but is easy to set up (email
navyvisualnews@navy.mil for an account). You are encouraged
to establish your own log-in to obtain imagery for post
publications. You may also share this information with local
media; there are no republication restrictions on imagery
used.

17. ADDITIONAL SITES TO BOOKMARK: More information on U.S
efforts in Haiti can be found at the following websites:

-- USAID (www.usaid.gov);
-- White House (www.whitehouse.gov/haitiearthquake_embed);
-- DHS (www.dhs.gov/index.shtm);
-- Health and Human Services (http://www.hhs.gov/haiti/); and
-- SOUTHCOM (www.southcom.mil/AppsSC/factFiles.php?id=138 )

18. The Haiti Earthquake Assistance website on INFOCENTRAL
(https://infocentral.state.gov/haiti-earthqua ke-assistance) is
your best source for comprehensive and up-to-date talking
points, links to major speeches (including translations into
French, Spanish, Portuguese, and/or Creole, as available),
cables, talking points, media summaries, social media
resources (Facebook, Twitter, etc.), and outreach tools
(photos and videos from DOD, America.gov articles). The site
includes a matrix listing international assistance
contributions, known media presence in Haiti, media reaction
and comments by officials, and other issues.

19. The PD task force can be contacted at (202) 647-6613, via
unclassified email at 'TaskForce-3@State.gov' or classified
email at 'TaskForce-3@State.sgov.gov.' Media and guidance
inquiries should be directed to the State PA Press Office at
(202) 647-2492 or after hours via the Operations Center at
(202) 647-1512.

20. Minimize considered.


CLINTON

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
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