US embassy cable - 06PARIS823


Identifier: 06PARIS823
Wikileaks: View 06PARIS823 at
Origin: Embassy Paris
Created: 2006-02-08 16:51:00
Classification: CONFIDENTIAL
Redacted: This cable was not redacted by Wikileaks.

DE RUEHFR #0823/01 0391651
R 081651Z FEB 06
C O N F I D E N T I A L PARIS 000823 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 02/07/2016 
1. (SBU)  Secretary of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff 
held meetings in Paris January 24 to discuss preparations for 
a potential avian flu pandemic, Franco-American cooperation 
on C/T and aviation security, and specific issues related to 
biometric passports and the Container Security Initiative 
(CSI).  He met with an interministerial delegation of French 
officials at the General Secretariat for National Defense 
(SGDN), and held a separate meeting with the Director of 
France,s FBI-equivalent Direction de la Surveillance du 
Territoire (DST).  He engaged leading French opinion-makers 
in a discussion of U.S. homeland security policy over lunch, 
and discussed both his trip and concerns about France,s 
failure to produce biometric passports with the press.  A 
meeting with Interior Minister Nicholas Sarkozy will be 
reported septel. 
2.  (SBU)  Secretary of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff 
met with Francis Delon, Director General of the Prime 
Minister,s office for defense policy coordination (SGDN) in 
Paris January 24.   Delon was accompanied by Vice-Admiral 
Scott de Martinville (SGDN); Didier Houssin, Interministerial 
Delegate for Avian Flu; Michel Wachenheim, Director General 
of Civil Aviation; Frederic Mondoloni, Deputy Diplomatic 
Advisor, Prime Minister,s Office;  David Martinon, 
Diplomatic Advisor, MOI; Pierre Thenard, Deputy-Director for 
Security, MFA; Prefect Bernard Boube, SGDN; Eric Lebedel, 
SGDN; General Bernard Salvignol, SGDN; Captain Jean-Louis 
Vichot, SGDN; Benedicte Suzan, SGDN; and Jean-Philippe 
Grelot, SGDN.   Secretary Chertoff was accompanied by 
Ambassador Craig Stapleton; Deputy Chief of Mission Karl 
Hofmann; DHS A/S for Public Affairs Brian Besancenay; DHS 
Deputy Chief of Staff Chad Beaudreux; DHS Office of 
International Affairs Director for European and Multilateral 
Affairs Dennis Sequeira; Embassy Paris DOJ Representative 
Kenneth Harris; Embassy Paris DHS Representative Deirdre 
Mahon; Embassy Paris TSA Representative Nouri Larbi; Poloff 
Peter Kujawinski; and Econoff (notetaker). 
3.  (SBU)  SG Delon began by explaining SGDN,s role in 
coordination and planning for avian flu.  Primary 
responsibility lay with Interministerial Delegate Didier 
Houssin.  Houssin outlined the main elements of France,s 
approach, especially its plan to stockpile enough drugs and 
masks to treat virtually all of France,s 60 million people: 
they expected to have 40 million treatments by 2007, 
including 33 million anti-virals.  The plan called also 
called for stockpiling 40 million doses of vaccine, and 50 
million professional face-masks alongside tens of millions of 
surgical masks.  Delon noted that a key uncertainty was the 
eventual availability of an avian flu vaccine.  France wanted 
to invite the US to attend a national exercise to be held in 
France in co-operation with the UN and WHO March 16. 
Secretary Chertoff said the U.S. would be interested in 
sending an observer. 
4.  (SBU)  Secretary Chertoff noted the similarity of the 
U.S. approach: DHS was involved because of the significant 
non-medical dimensions to an avian flu pandemic, including 
maintenance of power supplies, food and water supplies, and 
border control. The latter would need to be coordinated 
internationally.  Secretary Chertoff said key questions were 
how to prioritize limited drug supplies, how to do border 
screening, how to inform the public and businesses, and how 
to provide significant medical surge capacity. 
5.  (SBU)  Delon said France was grappling with many of the 
same issues. They would have to coordinate border closings 
internationally, particularly with other EU countries, and 
were looking at providing treatment at home to ease the 
strain on medical facilities.  Didier Hossein noted two key 
issues for French planners: whether to close schools, and 
what to do about public transportation.  Much would depend on 
the lethality of a virus.  They believed they would have to 
close schools.  Secretary Chertoff noted that the USG did not 
control schools as in France, and that it would be easier for 
it to order closure than to ensure that they stayed open. 
Parents and local school boards would ultimately decide make 
this decision. We were looking at options for local closures, 
if outbreaks were limited.  The U.S. had not yet reached a 
conclusion on public transportation.  Hurricane Katrina had 
shown however, that power and petrol supplies were crucial to 
U.S. infrastructure, and we would have to make decision about 
shutting down infrastructure very cautiously.  The U.S. would 
share its plan with France once it was finalized. 
6.  (SBU) Francis Delon said that the GOF had made a decision 
in June to make planning for a potential avian flu outbreak 
public.  He said that if an outbreak occurred, government 
advice needed to be believed to be effective.  It was 
important to establish public confidence in it now. 
Secretary Chertoff said he totally agreed, and A/S Besancenay 
noted the importance of international coordination of 
communication strategies: in the internet age, different 
messages coming from opposite sides of the Atlantic could 
easily create doubts about their validity.  Francis Delon 
concluded that there was a basic consensus on strategy, and 
Secretary Chertoff urged that both sides keep in touch as 
planning for avian flu progressed. 
7.  (C) Delon raised France,s "white paper" on terrorism, 
drafting of which the SGDN is spearheading.  The white paper, 
said Delon, will most likely be finalized and made public in 
February.  It seeks to define the terrorist threat, to 
evaluate the utility of present counterterrorist strategies, 
and to propose medium to long-term strategies.  The main 
threat, said Delon, is al Qaida and extremists from the 
Muslim world: "radical Islamist terrorism."  It is expected 
to be long-term, to last at least for a generation.  The 
extremists, ideology is archaic, said Delon, although their 
means to spread their ideology are very modern.  They hate 
the system of globalization but nonetheless use it to fight. 
These extremists are not combatants and France is not at war, 
said Delon.  The GOF wants to avoid legitimizing their cause 
by equating it with other, more conventional wars. 
8. (C) In order to fight this strategic threat, the white 
paper will focus on the importance of better intelligence, 
strengthening the government,s capacity to protect 
infrastructure, strengthening crisis planning, and eliciting 
the cooperation and confidence of the public.  The white 
paper is meant to be public, said Delon, in order to inform 
the public of the threat to French society.  Secretary 
Chertoff agreed with the importance of these broad themes. 
He stressed that the U.S. was particularly concerned about 
terrorists procuring WMD.  Any WMD attack would have a 
"transformative impact" on a society and its economy, said 
Chertoff.  It was orders of magnitude higher than terrorist 
attacks using convention weapons. 
9. (C) At the end of his presentation on the white paper, 
Delon noted that France had just approved new legislation to 
fight terrorism.  This legislation would increase video 
surveillance in public places and in public transport; would 
give intelligence agencies increased access to government 
databases; and would toughen the sanctions involved in 
terrorism-related cases.  Delon added that Iraq was a grave 
matter of concern to France, given that a number of French 
citizens had already been caught trying to reach Iraq to 
fight jihad.  France feared that Iraq resembled previous 
conflicts in the Balkans, Chechnya and Afghanistan in their 
attraction and formation of would-be militants. 
10. (C) Delon also mentioned two French proposals for 
cooperation on C/T related issues.  One would have Prefect 
Boube lead an interministerial French delegation to the U.S. 
in March or April to discuss strategies and means of 
classifying NRBC threats to better focus collaboration 
between French and American laboratories developing 
technologies for detecting WMD.  Secretary Chertoff said the 
U.S would welcome collaboration on both technological and 
operational issues in this area.  Delon also mentioned the 
utility of developing contacts in the area of 
cybercriminality.  SGDN monitored the internet 24 hours a day 
for potential attacks, and would welcome collaboration with a 
U.S. counterpart.  Secretary Chertoff said DHS was 
responsible for cybersecurity, DOJ for cybercriminality, and 
that he would be happy to help build a relationship with 
France in this area.  Dennis Sequiera would be the DHS 
contact point. 
11. (C)  Secretary Chertoff began by emphasizing the 
importance of the No-Fly and Selectee system for U.S. 
aviation security, and described plans to move to toward a 
system of namechecks on a rolling basis before departure, 
which would help avoid the problem of mistaken boarding of 
passengers on our watchlists.  More sharing of data would 
also lead to fewer mistakes, and would allow us to better 
understand how each other,s systems worked.  The Secretary 
noted with interest the new C/T legislation in France, which 
he believed gave the government the authority to collect PNR 
data on travelers.  The U.S. would be pleased to share its 
experience in this area with the GOF. 
12. (C)  Delon noted that on PNR developing a system would 
take time: they were starting from scratch, and would no 
doubt have a selective approach at first.  They had no plans 
to establish a French No-Fly list.  He said that France would 
continue to try to cooperate with the U.S., but that this was 
not an easy matter.  They had long had concerns about the 
legality of No-Fly screening under French data privacy law, 
and had now concluded that they would have to submit this to 
the French Data Privacy Authority (CNIL) for approval.  They 
were still preparing their case, and wanted to avoid a 
negative decision, which would be a "disaster." They did not 
feel they were in a position to move forward with Selectee EA 
implementation pending these consultations.  The Secretary 
indicated that he understood these concerns, and was hoping 
for progress on the Selectee EA as soon as they were able. 
13. (C)  Delon noted that an additional complication came 
from the upcoming European Court of Justice decision which 
could potentially overturn the U.S./EU agreement on PNR data 
protection, on the grounds that the commission lacked 
competence to conclude such an agreement.  They would be 
planning for this in the coming weeks.  Perhaps another basis 
could be found for an EU-wide agreement; he did not expect a 
"catastrophe" in the event of a negative decision.  Secretary 
Chertoff concurred that we would need to find a way to make 
the system work in the event of such a decision. 
14. (SBU)  In response to enquiries about possible changes in 
the U.S. No-Fly system, Secretary Chertoff emphasized that 
the No-Fly system would remain as a key element of U.S. 
aviation security.  He noted a number of possible 
improvements.  The U.S. was seeking to develop a trusted 
traveler system, to put additional information into watchlist 
records to reduce the numbers of false positives, and to 
check names on a rolling basis before planes took off.  The 
latter idea drew particular interest from the French, who 
noted that Air France was interested in participating in the 
TSA Quick Query pilot test planned for next summer.  Francis 
Delon concluded by praising the good working relationships 
SGDN and the Embassy and DGAC and TSA had established on 
aviation security. 
15. (SBU)  In closing, Secretary Chertoff brought two 
specific issues to the attention of the French.  He noted the 
importance of improving supply chain security, and the 
success we had experienced with the Container Security 
Initiative, which was now operating in a number of countries, 
including France.  We hoped to increase inspection rates. 
One remaining problem was the unresolved issue of A&T status 
for CSI inspectors stationed in French ports.  Other European 
partners had resolved this issue, and the Secretary hoped 
that the French MFA would do so soon as well. 
16. (SBU)  Secretary Chertoff also mentioned France,s 
non-compliance with U.S. standards for biometric passports. 
He hoped the French would be able to produce biometric 
passports soon; this would eliminate the considerable 
problems caused by the increased French need for visas.  He 
also noted U.S. concern over lost and stolen passports in 
France.  We needed to be able to identify and track these, 
and this would be a consideration in the February review of 
France,s eligibility for the VWP.  Delon noted France,s 
concern about these issues as well: one of the benefits of 
the new passports would be to provide additional security 
against fraudulent use.  David Martinon of MOI noted that 
they did not expect that these would be available before May, 
and that the U.S. Embassy received reports on lost and stolen 
passports from the GOF daily.  Michel Wachenheim mentioned 
flight crew visas, and wondered whether alternative ways of 
collecting fingerprint scans without a personal appearance 
might be considered.  Secretary Chertoff indicated he was 
open to exploring new approaches to information collection 
for visa processing. 
17. (SBU)  The Ambassador hosted a luncheon January 24 for 
the Secretary with a number of key academics and think tank 
directors.  Participants included Guillaume Parmentier of the 
French Institute for International Relations (IFRI), Nicole 
Bacharan of the Sciences Politiques faculty, Jean-Luc Marret 
of the Foundation for Strategic Research (FRS), Pascal 
Drouhaud of the ruling UMP political party, and National 
Assembly Deputy Alain Marsaud. 
18. (SBU) The wide-ranging discussion focused on the war on 
terror and counter-terrorism cooperation.  Deputy Marsaud 
described the French system as "more integrated" than the 
U.S., arguing that France in the 1960 s broke down the 
"firewall" between intelligence activity and the justice 
system, with the result that French prosecutors have 
considerably more leeway to work with France,s intelligence 
agencies.  Secretary Chertoff and the French participants 
agreed that prisons are of particular concern in the 
recruitment and formation of extremists sympathetic to 
terrorist organizations, and a potential breeding ground for 
suicide bombers. 
19. (SBU) On data privacy concerns, Parmentier argued that 
Americans are more accepting of privacy loss than Europeans. 
Secretary Chertoff noted that Europe seems particularly 
concerned re data bases, but Europeans are much more 
accepting than are Americans of the national ID card concept. 
 A number of French participants (IFRI, FRS, UMP) emphasized 
that, while the French may be understanding of the difficult 
task of fighting terrorists (noting France's Algerian 
history), the French public wants to see a more contrite U.S. 
when mistakes in fact are made.  Bacharan cited widespread 
concern among Europeans that the U.S. is not living up to its 
own strong rule of law principles, concerns which she claimed 
were undermining European support for U.S. counter-terrorism 
20. (SBU) Secretary Chertoff also met with Pierre de Bousquet 
de Florian, Director of France,s DST and several of his 
close collaborators on C/T issues.  Embassy will provide 
additional details of the meeting via separate channels. 
Chertoff met with U.S and French journalists at a press 
roundtable, and fielded questions on current political events 
as well as U.S counterterrorism policy and the issue of 
France,s inability to comply with U.S. requirements for 
biometric passports.  He also met with Minister of the 
Interior Nicholas Sarkozy February 25.  Embassy will report 
on this meeting septel. 
21. (SBU)  Secretary Chertoff's meetings in Paris bolstered 
our ongoing dialogue with the GOF on C/T cooperation and 
emphasized our shared commitment to the fight against 
terrorism and extremist ideologies, while promoting 
cooperation on emerging issues such as avian flu.  At the 
same time, the Secretary successfully delivered a message 
that on aviation and maritime security, issues remain which 
the GOF must work to resolve.  Both in bilateral meetings and 
with the press the Secretary highlighted the need for the GOF 
to quickly find a way to produce biometric passports in order 
to allow French travelers to avoid the delay and expense of 
getting a visa. 
22. (SBU) This cable was cleared with Secretary Chertoff,s 
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