US embassy cable - 09BRASILIA1142

2009 RECOMMENDATION OF PRESIDENTIAL DETERMINATION FOR BRAZIL'S SHOOTDOWN PROGRAM

Identifier: 09BRASILIA1142
Wikileaks: View 09BRASILIA1142 at Wikileaks.org
Origin: Embassy Brasilia
Created: 2009-09-14 21:43:00
Classification: CONFIDENTIAL
Tags: SNAR PREL MOPS BR
Redacted: This cable was not redacted by Wikileaks.
VZCZCXRO5367
RR RUEHRG
DE RUEHBR #1142/01 2572143
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
R 142143Z SEP 09
FM AMEMBASSY BRASILIA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 5079
INFO RUEHRG/AMCONSUL RECIFE 9930
RUEHRI/AMCONSUL RIO DE JANEIRO 8191
RUEHSO/AMCONSUL SAO PAULO 4545
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 BRASILIA 001142 
 
SIPDIS 
 
STATE FOR WHA/BSC AND L 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 09/15/2019 
TAGS: SNAR, PREL, MOPS, BR 
SUBJECT: 2009 RECOMMENDATION OF PRESIDENTIAL DETERMINATION 
FOR BRAZIL'S SHOOTDOWN PROGRAM 
 
REF: A. STATE 55233 
     B. 08 STATE 54183 
     C. 08 BRASILIA 1214 
     D. IIR 6 809 0238 09 
     E. IIR 6 809 0120 09 
     F. BRASILIA 390 
     G. BRASILIA 951 
 
Classified By: Charge d'Affaires Lisa Kubiske.  Reason: 1.4 (d). 
 
1.   (C)  SUMMARY.  In accordance with ref a instructions, 
Post has conducted an extensive review of Brazil's Air Bridge 
Denial (ABD)/Shootdown program.  Building on the information 
received from the GOB last year (ref c) and the importance 
ref a placed on confirming that Brazilian procedures as 
provided to the USG are in use, Mission Brazil members have 
visited several Air Traffic Control sites and conducted 
interviews with Brazilian personnel.  In doing so, Mission 
has focused on two incidents in which the appropriate 
procedures were followed.  Based on these activities, Mission 
is confident that there has been no deterioration in 
Brazilian safety standards over the last year and recommends 
that the Presidential Determination on the Brazilian 
Shootdown Law be renewed for 2009.  END SUMMARY. 
 
2.  (C)  Post remains engaged with the Government of Brazil 
to maintain confidence that Brazil's safety procedures for 
its ABD provide protection against innocent loss of life in 
connection with interdiction.  Based on evaluations of 
Brazil's ABD program, the President has been able to certify 
annually since 2004.  As part of its annual review, post has 
conducted several visits to air traffic control centers, 
including three of the four air traffic control centers 
(CINDACTAS) and met with Brazilian Air Force leadership on 
multiple occasions.  As a result of these meetings, we are 
able to confirm that the procedures provided in 2008, as 
elaborated in the 2004 exchange of notes, are still in force. 
 In response to ref a requests for additional oversight of 
the ABD program, Mission members met with Brazilian officials 
about several incidents occurring over the past year in order 
to analyze the practical application of Brazil,s procedures. 
 
 
Visits 
------ 
3.  (C)  In the past year, Mission officers visited the 
CINDACTAs in Brasilia, Manaus and Recife.  Brasilia and 
Manaus were also visited for the 2008 certification (ref c), 
and Mission officers reported that this year,s visits 
revealed no changes in the operations and that CINDACTA 
personnel remained familiar with proper safety procedures and 
the decision chain for ABD incidents.  In June, Mission 
Brazil was able to make the first visit to the Recife ( 
CINDACTA 3) in over three years.  USMLO officers worked 
closely with Brazilian Air Traffic Control to coordinate 
search operations for an Air France airliner that had 
disappeared over the Atlantic.  As a result of close 
coordination, Mission can report that  there is a high degree 
of familiarity with proper safety procedures at the CINDACTA. 
 Local personnel stated clearly that they had no possibility 
to take any decision regarding a potential shootdown.  Indeed 
the decision tree for the ABD program, requiring COMDABRA 
notification and decisions by the Air Force Command and the 
Presidency, was clearly posted at the CINDACTA.  Recife 
controllers have a real time data link with COMDABRA and will 
pass all data feeds there for decision during any ABD event. 
At all three CINDACTAs visited, personnel confirmed that the 
procedures provided in 2008 are still in force. 
 
4.  (C)  In addition to the CINDACTA visits, Air Force 
Attache visited the control tower in Rio de Janeiro 
international airport in June 2009 (ref d).  He reported a 
modern facility with full data connections to the Brazilian 
Air Traffic control system. 
 
Incidents 
---------- 
5.  (C)  In order to improve confidence in Brazilian ABD 
safety standards, Mission has conducted analyses of two 
separate incidents in which the procedures were invoked.  In 
the first (refs e and f), a stolen plane in a nearby city 
could have threatened Brasilia on March 12.  In this case, 
COMDABRA leadership contacted Air Force Commander Saito, who 
then briefed Defense Minister Jobim and President Lula.  The 
plane crashed before the Air Force considered whether  to 
request authorization to use force, although Air Force 
aircraft had intercepted it and were attempting to 
 
BRASILIA 00001142  002 OF 002 
 
 
communicate.  In subsequent meetings with COMDABRA personnel, 
Mission received a detailed description of the incident, 
which included step by step compliance with the GOB 
procedures.  It was noted, however, that while the shootdown 
notification procedures were used to inform national command 
authorities,  the Brazilian shootdown law applies only to 
aircraft reasonably suspected of carrying drugs, not mentally 
unbalanced amateur pilots.  Given this fact, the March 12 
incident should be regarded as a validation of the GOB,s 
information mechanism rather than an actual shootdown 
situation. 
 
6.  (C)  In the second incident, on June 5, 2009, Brazilian 
aircraft intercepted a drug-carrying plane entering Brazilian 
airspace from Bolivia, warned it to change course and land 
and, when this request was ignored, fired warning shots, 
forcing the plane down.  Almost 400 pounds of cocaine were 
discovered.  Air Force attache discussed the incident with 
COMDABRA and ascertained that the proper procedures were 
again followed meticulously.  This was further confirmed in a 
televised interview with COMDABRA commander Brig Macado, who 
described the necessity of 1) ensuring that the plane was 
engaged in drug trafficking, 2) a Presidential decision to 
use lethal force and 3) not considering a shootdown near 
populated areas.  Our inquiries into these cases provide 
strong evidence that the Brazilian procedures, as explained 
by the 2004 exchange of notes, remain in effect. 
 
COMDABRA Visit 
-------------- 
7.  (C)  Post was not able to conduct the annual meeting at 
COMDABRA as request in ref a.  The request for the meeting 
was denied by Brazilian authorities.  Post believes that the 
reason for this was the failure of U.S. Air Force officials 
to complete administrative arrangements for a Brazilian visit 
to NORAD. Given Brazilian sensitivities about foreign access 
to their facilities and the importance Brazil places on 
reciprocity, it is likely post,s request was denied pending 
a Brazilian visit to a U.S. ATC site.  Although the standard 
annual meeting did not occur, post has had regular contacts 
with COMDABRA and believes that a recommendation for 
recertification is justified based on the information 
coordination with COMDABRA following the incidents described 
in paragraphs 5 and 6 as well as the complete lack of any 
evidence of deterioration in Brazil,s safety standards. 
 
Procedures 
---------- 
8.  (C)  Ref a describes USG knowledge of Brazilian 
procedures as &indirect8 because the explanations given in 
the 2004 exchange of notes between the USG and Brazil are 
more detailed than the official written procedures provided 
in 2008 (ref c) and directs post to seek access to Brazilian 
classified supplements.  Once again, Brazilian authorities 
are not able to hand over their classified information, 
which, according to them, primarily concerns radio codes and 
other internal information.  Post notes that the USG has been 
able to certify annually since 2004 without access to these 
classified documents and does not believe their 
unavailability is any grounds for not certifying in 2009. 
 
PROGRAM STATISTICS 
------------------ 
 
9.  (C)  The Brazilian Air Force is compiling this year's 
statistics on the shootdown program.  Post will forward these 
via septel as soon as they become available. 
 
Recommendation 
-------------- 
10.  (C)  8. (C)  As noted in ref c, Brazil has maintained 
adequate safety standards since its shootdown law came into 
effect.  After conducting our annual evaluation of Brazil's 
program, we believe that the appropriate safety procedures 
remain in place.  With visits to the three CINDACTAs most 
likely to be engaged in interdiction of drug trafficking and 
discussions of actual implementation of the GOB procedures, 
we believe that a high degree of confidence in Brazilian 
safety standards should be maintained.  Post therefore 
recommends that the Presidential Determination on the 
Brazilian Shootdown Law be renewed for 2009. 
KUBISKE 

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