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
RUEAWJA/DEPT OF JUSTICE WASHDC
RUCNFB/FBI WASHINGTON DC
S E C R E T BOGOTA 002963
E.O. 12958: DECL: 09/15/2019
TAGS: PGOV, PREL, PHUM, PINR, KJUS, ASEC, CO
SUBJECT: AMBASSADOR AND VP SANTOS DISCUSS RESPONSE TO DAS
REF: BOGOTA 2921
Classified By: Ambassador William R. Brownfield, Reasons 1.4 (b,c,d)
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
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.
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.
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