Sunday, December 5, 2010

Wikileaks cables: Spain

It seems that Wikileaks is again accessible at least at its Swiss address. It's obvious that trying to block the host is a waste, as all the cables are already widely distributed and media is gradually pulling them into the public sphere. More of a success may be for the Pentagon to force cut its donation hubs, as happened with Moneybookers some weeks ago and with PayPal yesterday. However this may end in alternative "cashier" companies surging with sees outside the USA, whose security and other nonsense laws and secret practices are each day more and more constrictive.

I'm quickly reviewing the cables from Madrid here.

Zapatero personally favored US company in defense contract

PM Rodríguez Zapatero (just "Zapatero" in the cable and in colloquial speech) seems to have intervened personally, on US embassy pressure, in order to give a defense contract to GE [General Electric], in spite of it being awarded to British competitor Rolls Royce. This is of course illegal as contract assignments are per law given by merits such as price and quality and amounts to corruption or rather prevarication (abuse of power).

See also: BBC.

Spain to downplay extraordinary rendition kidnapping flights through its airports (2006)

[Foreign Minister] Moratinos indicated the Spanish Government's desire to give this issue as low a profile as possible, though, as a judicial case, the government had a limited capacity to influence the direction of the case. [Vice-President] De la Vega said she was aware of FM Moratinos' communication on this issue and expressed confidence that the Zapatero Government could manage it with little difficulty.

De la Vega emphasized that Spain had no objection to USG intelligence flights through Spanish territory; they simply wanted to be kept informed and, if necessary, to be able to demonstrate that they were exercising proper oversight of foreign aircraft passing through Spain.

Syria to be ignored by NATO members

(same cable as above)

The [US] Ambassador conveyed a similar message on the need to maintain the consensus limiting high level contacts with Syria in order to prevent Damascus from driving a wedge between allies. Vice President de la Vega agreed on this point as well.

Audiencia Nacional ("National Court") judges flirt with US embassy (2007)

In [judge Baltasar Garzón's] view however, the U.S. is missing opportunities to cultivate relationships with his five colleagues, all fellow investigative magistrates (Jueces de Instruccion). Garzon explained to the Ambassador that judges in Spain are a hybrid of a U.S. prosecutor and judge, and can lean more to one side or the other depending on their inclination. The six investigative magistrates that preside over National Courts 1-6 are (respectively): Santiago Pedraz, Ismael Moreno, Fernando Grande-Marlaska, Fernando Andreau, Baltasar Garzon, and Juan Del Olmo. The Ambassador informed Garzon that our Embassy Legal Attache did indeed have good working relationships with some of the other investigative magistrates (including Del Olmo, who was lead investigator on the March 11, 2004, Madrid train bombings), but that we were always interested in ways to work more closely together. In that spirit, and because U.S. and Spanish judicial laws are quite different, Garzon said that Spain should have a judicial attache in Washington to streamline cooperation on key cases, similar to relationships his country already has in the UK, France, and Mexico.

[Garzón] clearly has an anti-American streak (as evidenced by occasional scathing editorials in the Spanish press criticizing Guantanamo and aspects of what he calls the “U.S.-led war on terror”), and we are certainly under no illusions about the individual with whom we are dealing.

Garzón's investigation against Guantanamo torturers triggers USA to shut him up forcibly (2009)

We believe [Attorney General] Zaragoza is acting in good faith and playing a constructive role. Certainly he knows Garzon better than we do, having sparred with him before. Nevertheless, we do not share his optimism that this problem will go away anytime soon. Having started, it is hard for us to see why the publicity-loving Garzon would shut off his headline-generating machine unless forced to do so. And forcing him to do so could take months.

Notice that Garzón was effectively shut up forcibly soon after this cable (and we know nothing of what could be discussed in top secret ones or others that have not been leaked).

Russian Mafia very active in Catalonia - UK, Georgia implicated (2009-10)

[Barcelona's prosecutor] Bermejo claimed that there is large scale money laundering going on in Catalonia and “many, many” members of the Russian mafia are active in the region. (NOTE: In Spain, the term “Russian mafia” refers to organized crime members from not only Russia but also all other former members of the USSR.)


Bermejo and [Barcelona's prosecutor] Cavero are part of a small office - three prosecutors and 4-5 staffers - that is short-handed because their workload is so extensive. Bermejo was promoted to his anti-mafia post in June. Press commentary prior to his appointment identified Bermejo as the best candidate for the job. He took over for David Martinez Madero, who stepped down following death threats by the Russian mafia (See Ref A). Bermejo stated that he has inherited the death threat, which is against the person filling the anti-mafia prosecutor post rather than the individual per se.

In another cable:

[Audiencia Nacional's prosecutor] Grinda stated that he considers Belarus, Chechnya and Russia to be virtual “mafia states” and said that Ukraine is going to be one.

Grinda suggested that there are two reasons to worry about the Russian mafia. First, it exercises “tremendous control” over certain strategic sectors of the global economy, such as aluminum. (...) (S//NF) The second reason is the unanswered question regarding the extent to which Russian PM Putin is implicated in the Russian mafia and whether he controls the mafia’s actions. Grinda cited a “thesis” by Alexander Litvinenko, the former Russian intelligence official who worked on OC issues before he died in late 2006 in London from poisoning under mysterious circumstances, that the Russian intelligence and security services - Grinda cited the Federal Security Service (FSB), the Foreign Intelligence Service (SVR), and military intelligence (GRU) - control OC in Russia. Grinda stated that he believes this thesis is accurate. (...) Grinda said that he believes the FSB is “absorbing” the Russian mafia (...)

OC stands for Organized Crime, S/NF stands for Secret/No Foreign Eyes.

The UK seems to help the Russian mafia, Georgia deeply implicated:

He added that Germany, Switzerland, Austria, Belgium and the USG have been valuable partners in supplementing this information to further flesh out Grinda’s office’s understanding of the Russian mafia’s activities. He added that Spain is beginning to collaborate with France on these issues, but singled out the United Kingdom for its lack of cooperation.

(S//NF) Grinda described OC as “very powerful” in Georgia (...) Grinda said that he feels “completely abandoned” and “betrayed” by Georgia and the explanations that he has received from Georgia regarding its lack of cooperation are “more pathetic than the betrayal itself.

The Baghdad journalists' murder by US troops ("the Couso case") brings Spanish ministers to sympathize with the USA, even if a victim was a Spanish cameraman (2007)

For our side, it will be important to continue to raise the Couso case, in which three US servicemen face charges related to the 2003 death of Spanish cameraman Jose Couso during the battle for Baghdad. XXXXXXXXXXXX. I raised this issue with Vice President de la Vega on April 30. She was supportive but uncertain that direct GOS involvement would be productive.

Spanish tories "ranging from lackluster to radioactive"(2006-08)

A key reason the PP was not able to capitalize on the PSOE poll decline is its top leadership, with personalities ranging from lackluster to radioactive.
All of the leaders of the PP machine -- Rajoy, Acebes, and Zaplana -- as well as former President Aznar speak of President Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero with scorn and condescension.
Given the rigid structure of political parties in Spain, barring internal party revolution, it is nearly impossible for politicians to come to leadership in a party without working their way through the ranks and spending years paying homage to their elders.

Aznar lacks enthusiasm for his dauphin Rajoy:

Aznar's lack of enthusiasm for his hand-picked successor, Rajoy, was noteworthy.


If Rajoy cannot return his party to national power, individuals such as Rodrigo Rato, Madrid Mayor Alberto Ruiz-Gallardon, and perhaps former President Aznar may be waiting in the wings.

It is interesting how the US ambassador sees these three (also mentioned in other cables) as possible alternatives to Rajoy in the PP's leadership. In another cable Madrid regional president Esperanza Aguirre was also mentioned, but, unlike Rato or Ruiz Gallardón, she is clearly perceived as far right and humorists preyed on her when, as Minister of Culture, she committed several major errors in her discourses, showing her deep ignorance. She remains powerful in the PP but it would seem that the USA has more faith in the somewhat more centrist leaders mentioned here, who nevertheless lack appeal within the ideologically extreme PP, anchored in its Fascist and Catholic roots, even if they may be able to compete better in elections.

In a related cable, Ruiz Gallardón, then Mayor of Madrid is mentioned as saying:

He said that someone like [himself] or Madrid regional President Esperanza Aguirre could try and take over the party, but at the risk of splitting it right down the middle. He said that Rajoy staying put was the best way to minimize damage to the PP.

This underlines the internal weakness of the conglomerate of neofascists and center-right liberals that is the Spanish Popular Party, always in the brink of disintegration for that reason.

Yet another cable from 2008 again emphasizes the internal quarrels within the PP after a corruption scandal in Valencia forced its leader Rajoy to dump some high-profile names.

Rajoy's uncharismatic leadership itself seems only to persist because he is the only one able to rally both factions:
Rajoy does not posses great charisma, and many were surprised when former President Aznar hand-picked him as his successor in 2003. Many more were surprised when Rajoy did not bow out five years later after a second straight electoral loss. We believe Rajoy owes his longevity as much as anything to the lack of a credible successor within his own party.
Rajoy was of all Aznar high-profile ministers the only one with some common sense. That was clear already ten years ago for whoever who can watch dispassionately and it's no mystery how he is the leader (specially as the very strong far-right faction would not put up with a "liberal" as Ruiz Gallardón).

However there is another alternative. A very bad one for whoever has followed the IMF trajectory in the last decade but one which may serve the PP in Spain (and one which the US embassy, so oddly interested in this political party seems to support):
... some credible voices are mentioning the name of former IMF director and past Spanish Vice President Rodrigo Rato (now in the private sector) as a possible candidate to lead the party into the future.

Why does the US embassy reports so often and in-depth on the conservative party and instead remains relatively silent on other issues? Is the USA (or was it under Bush) trying to secure an even more friendly government in Madrid such as the one of Aznar was?

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