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Identifier
Created
Classification
Origin
07KINGSTON1170
2007-07-27 13:55:00
UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY
Embassy Kingston
Cable title:  

JAMAICAN REACTION TO GOVERNMENT ACCOUNTABILITY

Tags:   PREL  PTER  ASEC  EWWT  PGOV  GAO  JM  XL 
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VZCZCXRO4402
PP RUEHGR
DE RUEHKG #1170/01 2081355
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 271355Z JUL 07
FM AMEMBASSY KINGSTON
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 5113
INFO RUCNCOM/EC CARICOM COLLECTIVE
RUEAHLC/HOMELAND SECURITY CENTER WASHINGTON DC
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC
						UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 KINGSTON 001170 

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

STATE FOR WHA/CAR (RBUDDEN)

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREL PTER ASEC EWWT PGOV GAO JM XL
SUBJECT: JAMAICAN REACTION TO GOVERNMENT ACCOUNTABILITY
REPORT (GAO) ON CARIBBEAN PORT SECURITY

--------
Summary
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1. (SBU) The United States Government Accountability Office
(GAO) is required to report on security related aspects of
Caribbean Basin Ports. On June 29, 2007 the GAO released a
report, "Information on Port Security in the Caribbean
Basin", in which they identified three likely modes of attack
and three specific areas of security concern and
vulnerability. The Jamaican reaction to the GAO report has
been limited but resentful. Jamaicans, including James
Forbes, head of security at the Port Authority of Jamaica,
were critical of the GAO report's lack of specificity. Many
federal agencies located within U.S. Embassy Kingston, were
also concerned about the report's broad labeling of Caribbean
ports without distinguishing among specific countries. While
many of the concerns identified may apply to other islands in
the Caribbean, Jamaica seems to have made a concerted effort
to comply and in some instances exceed international
regulations regarding port security. The Jamaican media does
not seem to recognize the distinction between this report
emanating from an independent nonpartisan agency that works
for Congress, and an official statement of U.S. Government
policy and views. End Summary





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GAO Report


--------------------------





2. (SBU) Section 233 (c) of the security and accountability
for Every Port Act of 2006 compels the GAO to inform Congress
of port security in the Caribean Basin. It is important for
Congress to be aware of the security situation regarding
ports in the Caribbean Basin because American cruise ships
and goods travel to and from this region. The U.S. Government
Accountability Office (GAO) released a report, "Information
on Port Security in the Caribbean Basin"(www.gao.gov), with
the specific objectives of identifying and describing: (1)
the threats and concerns to port security within the
Caribbean Basin, (2) actions taken by foreign and domestic
agents to meet international port regulations, (3) actions US
government agencies have taken to assist in making Caribbean
ports secure, and (4) the potential economic consequences of
port security and a hypothetical attack.



3. (SBU)The GAO acquired interview officials from federal
agencies and international organizations, and also visited
several Caribbean nations GAO reviewed information provided
by those agencies and organizations working in the region.
Based on the three areas of analysis in the aforementioned
section, the GAO found three areas that specifically inhibit
port security in the Caribbean Basin: (1) corruption, (2)
gang activity in close proximity to ports, and (3) drug

trafficking. Illegal migration and a growing influence of
Islamic radical groups were also mentioned by agency
officials as potential concerns to port security.



4. (SBU) However, according to the GAO, its report is
"descriptive in nature and does not provide a detailed
analysis of the actions taken or efforts made regarding port
security in the Caribbean Basin." Therefore, the GAO report
merely describes the port security situation in general
without taking into consideration actions taken to address
the security concerns mentioned above. The report also does
not address the effectiveness of the programs implemented by
Federal or any other agencies to address the security
concerns raised in the report.




--------------------------


Jamaican reaction


--------------------------





5. (SBU) The Jamaican reaction to the GAO report can be
described as limited but resentful. In the media, there have
been a few articles concerning references to the GAO report.
One editorial made the front page of the "Daily Observer",
one of the major periodicals read island-wide, on July 7,
2007, with the title, "'Our Ports Secure' Port Authority
responds to U.S. Congress Concern." The article included
comments from James Forbes, head of the security at the Port
Authority of Jamaica, who was specifically disgruntled at the
claims of corruption, lax security, and limited resources to
maintain equipment. The GAO seems to have given rise to some

KINGSTON 00001170 002 OF 002


confusion that was expressed in an analysis column in the
Daily Observer on July 15, 2007 entitled "Two elections and
'Uncle Same'." The columnist, Rickey Singh, expressed dismay
regarding the critique of port security coming on the heels
of the CARICOM 20/20 Summit at which Caribbean nations and
the U.S. agreed to move forward collectively on issues of
security.



6. (SBU) Mr. Forbes expressed disgruntlement at the GAO
report's findings because Jamaica appears to have addressed
many of the concerns mentioned by the GAO as a threat to
security. Forbes claims the Port Authority of Jamaica is
audited internally, and the Port Authority also has been
audited by the U.S. Coast Guard and other international
agencies that have found the Port Authority's financial
practices to be above board. Forbes is also quoted as saying
that not only saying the Port Authority possesses equipment
that only scan 100% of all cargo, but Jamaica is the only
country in the region with the capacity to scan cargo with
high-tech x-ray equipment that can peer through 12 inches of
solid steel. The three major ports on the island, Kingston,
Montego Bay, and Ocho Rios, are operated by both local police
and Jamaica Defense Force. Forbes did not address the issue
of growing Islamic radical influence in the region. However,
the Islamic community in Jamaica is very small.



--------------------------


Federal Agency Reactions


--------------------------





7. (SBU) Federal agencies operating in the area have positive
reviews of the efforts by the Jamaican government to secure
the ports. In the estimate of the Embassy's Narcotics Affairs
Section, the management of Jamaican ports, headed by Noel
Hylton, does not appear to be corrupt. Narcotics Affairs also
believes the Jamaica Defence Force does not seem to be
corrupt in comparison to other law enforcement agencies in
Jamaica. The Defense AttachQ's Office (DAO) could not comment
on other ports in Jamaica but specifically mentioned the port
in Kingston as secure and compliance with international
guidelines/standards. The Department of Homeland security
Container Security Initiative, Kingston, also has found that
the Kingston port is secure. Some of the security measures
noted by the Container Security Initaitive, a program active
in other Caribbean Islands, included:(1) having a Jamaican
Customs Officer present when someone enters the container
area, (2) having a customs officer present when the seal of a
contain is broken, (3) and all vechicles that enter the port
are requird to sign in and out. The concensus opinion of
Federal agencies operating in Kingston is that the ports here
are secure.



--------------------------


Comment


--------------------------






8. (U) The report's lack of specificity leads some countries
like Jamaica to believe, by virtue of being part of the
region to which the GAO report refers that their situations
are mischaracterized and their efforts to cooperate with us
on port security are not appreciated. Jamaicans sometimes do
not recognize the difference between the executive and
legislative branches in the U.S. Government or the
independent, non-partisan nature of an organization like the
GAO that is charged with keeping the legislative branch
informed of how the executive spends money. They interpret a
report such as this as an authoritative statement of U.S.
views
HEG