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2005-06-08 21:37:00
Embassy Bogota
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						C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 BOGOTA 005501 



E.O. 12958: DECL: 06/08/2015

Classified By: Charge d'Affairs Milton K. Drucker for reason 1.4(d).


1. (U) Embassy warmly welcomes the visit of Attorney General
Gonzales. The Colombian government is on our side on
fighting terrorism, narcotics trafficking, and money
laundering. The visit comes at an important time for our law
enforcement and judicial efforts in Colombia. Embassy Bogota
has the largest law enforcement/judicial element of any
embassy in the world, and law enforcement issues are central
to U.S. policy goals in Colombia and to GOC political
objectives here. Key issues include:



2. (C) This is our primary mission in Colombia, the source of
more than 80 percent of our assistance funding, and the
reason Embassy Bogota is one of the largest in the world
with, among other things, some 200 fixed and rotary wing
aircraft, a huge DEA presence, and more than fifteen law
enforcement agencies at post. The alignment of U.S. policy,
Congressional support, and GOC commitment is unprecedented
and gives us for the first time the opportunity to test the
thesis that we can defeat a major drug threat by taking it
head-on. Between seizures and eradication, we set a record
in 2004 and prevented about 4865 metric tons of drugs from
reaching their destination. We are ahead of fumigation
efforts this year, after a record 2004. In May, combined
intelligence and law enforcement efforts produced the largest
single seizure of drugs anywhere, anytime, more than 15
metric tons.



3. (C) Extradition of Colombian nationals for trial outside
Colombia generates nationalistic responses, fanned by corrupt
influences trying to protect themselves. Nonetheless, under
President Uribe, more than 215 Colombian nationals have been
extradited to the U.S., a record that dwarfs extraditions
from any other country. In 2004 and early 2005, Colombia
extradited to the U.S. the most senior FARC terrorists ever
captured, and the two most powerful ex-drug lords ever
captured. The GOC uses extradition as a tool in negotiating
with narco-terrorists. At times, the GOC has asked for more
flexibility from the U.S. in individual extradition cases,
with mixed results, even though all extraditions are at the
discretion of the GOC. The Colombian Supreme Court must
approve all extraditions and routinely sets conditions on
extraditions to ensure that the U.S. process does not violate
Colombian norms. After a U.S. court violated conditions on
sentencing and two U.S. attorneys in Florida made public
statements appearing to violate these conditions, the
Colombian court blocked some 30 extraditions. After
receiving assurances from the embassy, and President Uribe's

staff, the Court returned to smooth approval of our
extradition requests. This is a priority of President Uribe.

Money laundering


4. (C) The embassy has increased investigations against money
launderers, with notable successes. Counter-money laundering
operations have faced political resistance when they accused
well-known public figures, but did not make an explicit tie
to drugs or terrorism as in the DEA "White Dollar" operations
plea agreements. An extradition request for violation of
U.S. banking regulations, without an explicit drug or terror
connection will be politically costly. The Colombian banking
system, frightened of being identified with corrupt
influences, has cooperated fully and is one of our best
partners in the hemisphere, as is the government's "Financial
Investigations Unit." But a traditional tolerance for
informal financial activity complicates this effort.



5. (C) Colombia is the largest foreign producer of
counterfeit U.S. currency. US Secret Service, in cooperation
with Colombian authorities, has been highly successful in
disrupting production of false currency and in seizing it
before it reaches the U.S.



6. (C) Drugs in Colombia are inseparable from terrorism.
DEA, FBI, ICE, ATF, and Defense Department components plus a
number of other agencies are full, active players in a host
of investigations which result in trial in the U.S. or in
Colombia. Several of our highest level prosecutions have
both terror and narcotics aspects. The entire embassy team
cooperates to locate the three U.S. hostages held by the FARC
for two and a half years.

Judicial reform


7. (C) Perhaps the most revolutionary and durable change in
Colombian society is the move, with extensive U.S. support,
to an oral accusatory system. DOJ and AID have been active
in training judges, prosecutors, defenders, and police in the
techniques necessary for unearthing and preservation of
evidence, testimony in court, trial conduct, etc.
Implementation began early this year in Bogota, the country's
largest jurisdiction, and in several others. Success has
been overwhelming, and has been so perceived by the legal
profession and the population at large. But work must
continue to bring the new approach to the rest of the country
during the four-year phase-in. Resources are short. This is
a priority of the Prosecutor General (Fiscal General).

Proceeds from seizures


8. (C) Colombia continues to believe that it should receive
more of the proceeds from joint seizure operations. In the
Rodriguez Gacha case, the U.S. delayed paying Colombia its
share for more than five years, but received positive press
when the payment was made. In the Duer case, the $20 million
proceeds were divided with the UK, but not Colombia. This is
a priority of the Minister of Interior and Justice. In a
cash strapped Uribe Administration the shared money would be
well spent.



9. (C) Colombia's efforts to combat drugs and terror
predictably have escalated the prison population beyond
capacity. Colombia has gone from 51,000 post-trial prisoners
to 66,000 prisoners under Uribe. Although we do not share
the view, the local UN Human Rights Office used prison
overcrowding as the rationale for their characterization of
widespread "torture" in Colombia. The Bureau of Prisons rep
here continues to work with the Colombians on the problem and
new prisons are being built.

Continued clean-up of the Prosecutor General's Office



10. (C) In March 2004, the Prosecutor General agreed to U.S.
polygraphing of more than 100 senior prosecutors, a process
that continues to go well. But he also agreed to establish
an effective, independent internal affairs unit, a process
moving forward slowly. U.S.-sponsored human rights units of
the Prosecutor General's office are having success in
fighting traditional corruption and bringing professional
prosecutions to controversial cases.



11. (C) The embassy runs numerous courses for anti-kidnapping
units. In the last several years, the record for safe rescue
of kidnap victims has skyrocketed as a result.

VIP Security


12. (C) The U.S. provides training and equipment for the
security details of the President, the Vice President, the
mayor of Bogota, and several ministers. President Uribe has
been the subject of at least fifteen assassination plots.
All intelligence and law enforcement agencies cooperate to
provide the best protection possible for senior GOC officials.

Possible deliverables


13. (C) Decision that the Patriot Act does not preclude
assistance or cooperation with the demobilization-reinsertion
program designed to help dismantle terrorist organizations
and provide an alternative to a return to violence (like
alternative development programs for coca growers). The U.S.
has expressed support for the program. At present, the GOC
and U.S. businesses are cooperating with the program; failure
to approve such cooperation would imply both that those
businesses, and the GOC, are in violation of U.S. law.
Embassy has more than US$1.25 million available for
assistance right away.
-- Affirmation of U.S. intention to adhere to Colombian court
conditions on extradition. This could include a decision to
use administrative measures to reduce life sentence of Alex
Restrepo, in violation of Colombian conditionality, to a
maximum of forty years.

-- Affirmation of intention to divide proceeds of fines and
asset forfeitures with Colombia where the defendant is
Colombian or Colombia has made a major contribution to a
successful U.S. prosecution.