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Cablegate: Gop Seeks to Implement New Cell Phone Intercept System, But

VZCZCXYZ0000
OO RUEHWEB

DE RUEHAC #0097/01 0492052
ZNY SSSSS ZZH
O R 182052Z FEB 10
FM AMEMBASSY ASUNCION
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 0569
INFO MERCOSUR COLLECTIVE
RHEHAAA/NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL WASHINGTON DC
RHMFISS/HQ USSOCOM FP MACDILL AFB FL
RHMFISS/HQ USSOUTHCOM MIAMI FL
RUEABND/DEA HQS WASHINGTON DC
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHINGTON DC

S E C R E T ASUNCION 000097

SIPDIS
NOFORN
WHA/FO CMCMULLEN, WHA/BSC MDRUCKER, BFRIEDMAN, MDASCHBACH, INL/LP DHOOKER, DS/TIA/ITA

E.O. 12958: DECL: 2035/02/18
TAGS: PGOV SNAR ASEC PREL PA
SUBJECT: GOP SEEKS TO IMPLEMENT NEW CELL PHONE INTERCEPT SYSTEM, BUT
PROMISES TO KEEP SIU PROGRAM INTACT

CLASSIFIED BY: Ambassador Liliana Ayalde, Ambassador, State, Front
Office; REASON: 1.4(B), (D)

1. (S/NF) SUMMARY: Interior Minister Filizzola told the Ambassador
February 10 that the GOP would soon be rolling out a new, expanded
cell phone intercept program, which would continue to cover
counternarcotics but would also include anti-kidnapping cases as
the GOP ratchets up efforts to capture the EPP. Filizzola assured
the Ambassador that the DEA-SIU cell intercept program would remain
alive, but encouraged the Embassy to allow the use of the
DEA-funded cell intercept software to the GOP or it would be
rendered obsolete. Despite some initial technical doubts, it
appears that Filizzola's plan is technically feasible. However, we
want to ensure that the DEA-supported program is not compromised in
the process. Given the pressures on the GOP to arrest the EPP
members responsible for the Zavala kidnapping, there is no doubt
that the Lugo government will press to increase its intercept
capability. Our participation and concurrence is key to our
counternarcotics-- and broader law enforcement-- goals in Paraguay.
END SUMMARY.


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FILIZZOLA INFORMS AMBASSADOR OF NEW GOP PROGRAM

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2. (S/NF) Interior Minister Rafael Filizzola told the Ambassador
February 10 that the GOP would soon be rolling out a new, expanded
cell phone intercept program, which would continue to cover
counternarcotics but would also include anti-kidnapping cases as
the GOP ratchets up efforts to capture members of the Paraguayan
People's Army (EPP) involved in the Fidel Zavala kidnapping.
Since September 2009, DEA has had an active cell phone intercept
program limited solely to counter-narcotics, managed by the
Anti-Drug Secretariat (SENAD) (which is independent of the Interior
Ministry). On several occasions since the October kidnapping of
rancher Zavala by the EPP, Minister Filizzola asked Ambassador
Ayalde and/or DEA to allow the Interior Ministry access to the cell
intercept program so that it could pursue leads in the kidnapping
case. Embassy declined access to the system, but cooperated with
the Interior Ministry in order to monitor 12 lines related to the
kidnapping. On February 10, Minister Filizzola told the Ambassador
that the GOP had everything in place (legal framework, equipment,
etc.) for a broader intercept program, but he learned that his
program would impact the DEA-SIU program. The Ministry procured
Brazilian intercept equipment for USD 1.2 million but needed access
to the software available via the DEA-SIU program at SENAD in order
to make it operational. The Minister further said that he now
understood that the technology did not permit both programs to
operate independently. Thus the USG could either authorize the
Ministry to link up with the DEA software or the GOP would procure
the rest of its own system which would mean that the USG program
housed in SENAD would be shut down. While acknowledging that drugs
are a serious problem, the Minister stated that they are not the
only security issue confronting Paraguay. Kidnapping, arms
trafficking and corruption, the Minister stated, could not be
subordinated to the war on drugs. Filizzola said the GOP's top
priority was capturing the EPP, which had to take precedence over
counternarcotics. He was specifically concerned about the USD
550,000 the EPP received during the Zavala kidnapping, the EPP's
interest in generating instability, and the leads the GOP had on
some other possible kidnappings. "Counternarcotics are important,"
he said, "but won't topple our government. The EEP could."


3. (S/NF) Filizzola assured the Ambassador that the DEA-SIU cell
intercept program would continue, but encouraged the Embassy to
cede access to its cell intercept software to the GOP or it would
be rendered obsolete. The Minister said SENAD would still be able
to intercept lines, but the Ministry of Interior would need to
utilize our software. Filizzola said President Lugo had approved
the new program, and would speak to SENAD Minister Cesar Aquino
regarding same. (NOTE: As of this writing, Lugo had not broken the
news to Aquino. END NOTE). Filizzola told the Ambassador that he
wanted to ensure transparency with the Embassy and secure our


continued cooperation. The Minister stressed that he had the
support and legal framework from the courts, Public Ministry, and
the telephone regulatory agency CONATEL. The Minister noted that
since the DEA already owns the connecting software (LMNS)
equipment, it would be more sensible and helpful to the GOP if the
U.S. would authorize its use by the Ministry. The alternative-the
GOP starting from scratch-- would waste precious time in the GOP's
urgent effort to capture members of the EPP and would render our
equipment/software obsolete.


4. (S/NF) The Ambassador made clear that the U.S. had no interest
in involving itself in the intercept program if the potential
existed for it to be abused for political gain, but confirmed U.S.
interest in cooperating on an intercept program with safeguards, as
long as it included counternarcotics. While noting that the
Interior Ministry's current personnel are trustworthy, the
Ambassador noted that others could abuse this technology in the
future. The Minister concurred and added that both he and the
President were keenly aware of the potential risks. The Minster
added that he believes there are currently three or four
clandestine pieces of equipment in Paraguay capable of intercepting
cellular phone calls. This equipment was purchased by members of
the previous government using questionable funding and disappeared
once the Lugo government took over. Both Filizzola and Vice
Minister Caballero, who was also present for the meeting, confirmed
that controls are crucial. Caballero assured the Ambassador that
the following judicial and procedural protections are in place: 1)
the intercept room will be managed by Public Ministry prosecutors
and the Interior Ministry; 2) cellular phone providers will know
which lines the GOP is listening to and will only grant permission
based on a judicial order; 3) judicial orders can only be issued
by three Asuncion-based judges, which are the same judges
authorized to issue the orders under the current DEA-SENAD program;
4) the Supreme Court will ensure that only authorized taps are in
place; 5) the equipment purchased by the GOP automatically tracks
every action taken and its historical account cannot be altered or
erased; and 6) the law only permits cell phone interception for
anti-kidnapping (in this case, pursuit of the EPP) and
counter-narcotics; there are no other lawful purposes.


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IN SPITE OF SOME QUESTIONS, THE PROGRAM APPEARS TO BE FEASIBLE

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5. (S/NF) Despite some initial technical questions from DEA, it
appears that Filizzola's plan is feasible given the GOP's purchase
of additional technology. The highly technical nature of this
program has lent itself to confusion about what is and is not
possible. From Filizzola's first request to use the software
(LMNS) that the Embassy installed at SENAD, we had consistently
indicated that DEA Washington had to weigh in. So the Embassy
arranged for a February 17 video-teleconference (VTC) between the
Minister, Vice Minister Caballero, and Filizzola's Chief of Staff
Claudia Guanes and DEA Washington, led by XXXXXXXXXXXX, DEA's
Unit Chief Coordinator for the Science and Technology Section.
Also present were the Ambassador and DEA Country AttachC)XXXXXXXXXXXX.


6. (S/NF) During the VTC, Minister Filizzola laid out his plans for
the program in general terms, highlighting its urgency. He said
his program would start with cell phone provider PERSONAL, which is
the only currently operational cell provider using the DEA-procured
LMNS. Filizzola asked about the status of the second DEA- procured
LMNS for TIGO, and expressed the GOP's commitment to continue the
counternarcotics intercept program. He discussed the technical
limitations with the DEA experts and concluded that expansion of
the intercept program was technically possible with the purchase of
additional hardware and licenses. The Minister saw two


alternatives: (1) the Ministry buys additional equipment/software
and replaces the DEA-purchased LMNS; or (2) the Ministry and SENAD
(read DEA-supported program) share the connecting software (LMNS).
Both DEA and the Minister asked some clarifying questions which
demonstrated that the Ministry had the equipment for the Monitoring
Center and only needed the use of the DEA software currently in use
at PERSONAL. Between PERSONAL and the next cell provider scheduled
to come on-line, TIGO, they would cover 90% of the cellular
telephone market. DEA indicated that it took them over a year to
install the PERSONAL system because full cooperation from the
company is required. The Minister emphasized that this would not
be an issue because they already had the decree from CONATEL
(telephone industry regulator) that forces the telephone companies
to cooperate, in addition to the proper legal authorities (based on
the Constitution and the anti-kidnapping law).


7. (S/NF) In light of the highly sensitive nature of this program,
the Ambassador asked Minister Filizzola to provide the Embassy with
a written request for access to the existing cell intercept
software, along with copies of the laws that serve as a legal basis
for the expanded program. Both Supreme Court President Fretes and
SENAD Minister Aquino expressed doubts to Emboffs about the
legality of the expanded program. (NOTE: While Fretes told
Filizzola that he was "on board," it is very common for Paraguayans
to avoid voicing disagreement. Aquino's concerns, in turn, may
have more to do with his rivalry with Minister Filizzola. END
NOTE). TIGO (Millicom), one of Paraguay's leading cell phone
providers, told the Ambassador that though they had concerns about
the GOP's decision to move forward with an intercept program, they
felt that U.S. involvement in the program would provide them with
some "cover."


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COMMENT: GET ON BOARD OR GET LEFT BEHIND

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8. (S/NF) Given the political pressures on the GOP to arrest the
EPP members responsible for the Zavala kidnapping, there is no
doubt that the Lugo government will continue intense efforts to
improve its intercept capability. Our participation and
concurrence is key to our counternarcotics-- and broader law
enforcement-- goals in Paraguay. If we are not supportive, the GOP
will view us as an obstacle to a key priority, which could
jeopardize our broader relationship and the DEA's ability to pursue
counternarcotics leads. Capturing the EPP has become a top
priority of the Paraguayan government, and there is a real sense of
urgency that it happen quickly. We now have an opportunity to
help the GOP and be viewed as a reliable and valuable partner, as
well as to ensure that U.S. interests in counternarcotics are
protected. However, we want to limit our involvement to protecting
DEA's program, as opposed to legitimizing the GOP's broader CT
intercept program. DEA will send XXXXXXXXXXXX to Asuncion in
coming weeks, who will offer advice to the GOP on how to best set
up the program (in order to protect our part of it). We have
carefully navigated this very sensitive and politically sticky
situation, and hope that we can move forward quickly in order to
make the most of it. It appears that we have no other viable
choice. END COMMENT.
AYALDE

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
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