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Viewing cable 09BRASILIA1142, 2009 RECOMMENDATION OF PRESIDENTIAL DETERMINATION FOR BRAZIL'S SHOOTDOWN PROGRAM

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
09BRASILIA1142 2009-09-14 21:09 2010-12-12 07:07 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Brasilia
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 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