139461 1/31/2008 08COPENHAGEN38 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Copenhagen 08COPENHAGEN38 "VZCZCXRO6207
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RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC IMMEDIATE" "C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 COPENHAGEN 000038
E.O. 12958: DECL: 01/31/2018
TAGS: PREL, PTER, DA
SUBJECT: DANISH DOCUMENTARY REVIVES CALLS FOR INQUIRY ON CIA FLIGHTS
Classified By: DCM Sandra Kaiser, reasons 1.4b,d
1. (C) Summary: A documentary aired January 30 on Danish state television alleges that civilian aircraft operated by the CIA have routinely transited Danish airspace in support of renditions. The film has provoked strong reaction from the Danish opposition and officials in Greenland, where the flights allegedly landed, prompting renewed calls for an independent investigation of possible CIA flights. Danish government officials have expressed their concerns about the allegations publicly, but have indicated to us privately their interest in quieting the matter as quickly as possible.
The Danish government is now working to hold together a thin majority to block expected moves for an inquiry in parliament. Our response has been to say as little as possible, downplaying the film and the issue when raised. End summary.
2. (C) Largely a rehash of previous accounts of alleged CIA renditions, the Danish documentary, ""The CIA's Danish Connection,"" also presents new allegations of flights transiting Danish territory in Narsarsuaq, Greenland. The film details the CIA's alleged use of private air companies as fronts for the transportation of detainees and includes the journalists' (ultimately unsuccessful) efforts to track down individual pilots in the U.S. It features retired CIA officers making assertions that these flights could have been used for renditions. The documentary also contains a long interview iwth Khalid Al-Masri, and links the names of CIA contractors allegedly associated with his case to the Greeenland flights. The documentary relies on tenuous connections and leaps of logic (its narration frankly concedes that its allegations cannot be proven), but has offered enough new information to prevent the Danish government from dismissing it as old news.
3. (C) Predictably, the documentary drew an immediate and sharp reaction from the center-left opposition, which had called for investigations into previous allegations of CIA overflights, but had been unable to secure majority backing for measures in parliament. This time, however, the government has even fewer seats -- since November 2007 elections -- and may not be able to count on the support of the otherwise-allied New Alliance party (which had featured concerns about renditions in its electoral platform).
Greenlandic politicians added their voices to the debate, with Greenland Home Rule FM Aleqa Hammond charging that Greenland had been ""misled and misused,"" and demanding an investigation.
4. (C) The Danish government also moved quickly to address the controversy, issuing a joint MFA-Transportation-Justice Ministry statement late the evening of the broadcast. In it, the ministers sought to assure the Danish public that it takes the documentary's allegations seriously and will look into the matter further, including with the American authorities ""if needed."" The statement recalled that Denmark had previously outlined its concerns about possible overflights to the U.S. government and made clear its opposition to use of its airspace in violation of international law. The statement rejected calls for an independent investigation, insisting that there is no indication of Danish complicity, a position reiterated the following day by both FM Per Stig Moller and Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen.
5. (C) Privately, Danish officials have made clear their interest in making this issue go away as quickly and quietly as possible. PM National Security Advisor Thomas Ahrenkiel and MFA Undersecretary Michael Zilmer-Johns told us separately that the controversy surrounding the film has put the government under considerable pressure and that they are working hard to calm the situation and avoid a mandatory investigation in parliament. Zilmer-Johns noted that ""we have been through this before"" and stated flatly that the Danish government doesn't require anything from the U.S. on this -- for now, anyway.(Citat fremhævet af redaktionen) In an unrelated meeting with the Ambassador January 31, Danish intelligence and security (PET) chief Jakob Scharf appeared unconcerned by the story.
6. (C) Comment: Our response to media and official interest has been to say little, beyond noting that we do not comment on counter-terrorism matters and suggesting that we regard the documentary's conclusions as thin. The Danish government clearly shares our desire to get past this latest flare-up of the overflights/renditions issue and together we will work to avoid keeping the story alive in the media. If the government prevails in blocking an inquiry and satisfying the Greenlanders (FM Moller reportedly called Greenland PM Hans
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Enoksen to assure him of the Danish government's plans to review the matter), then this controversy could be over within a few days. If not, such an investigation could prove an unhelpful distraction for months to come.