2009 RECOMMENDATION OF PRESIDENTIAL DETERMINATION FOR BRAZIL’S SHOOTDOWN PROGRAM

Código Fecha Clasificación Origen
09BRASILIA1142 14 September 2009 Confidencial Embassy Brasilia

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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

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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