Oct 242014
 

http://wikileaks.org/cable/2005/10/05MANILA4785.html

Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
05MANILA4785
2005-10-06 07:18
2011-08-30 01:44
UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY
Embassy Manila

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 04 MANILA 004785

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE

DEPT FOR EAP, EAP/MTS, EAP/MLS, INR/EAP, EAP/PD
NSC FOR GREEN

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PINR PINS KPAO RP
SUBJECT: PHILIPPINE REACTION TO LATEST REVELATIONS ABOUT
ALLEGED ACTIVITIES OF FBI EMPLOYEE

REF: A. MANILA 4466
¶B. MANILA 4433
¶C. MANILA 4417
¶D. MANILA 1674

¶1. (U) This message is Sensitive but Unclassified; Please
handle accordingly.

¶2. (SBU) The Philippine media is covering in an extensive
fashion an October 5 report by ABC News that
recently-arrested FBI analyst Leandro Aragoncillo may have
stolen classified US documents from the office of the US Vice
President and forwarded these materials to Opposition
politicians in the Philippines. All media are repeating
ABC’s allegation that it is the first recorded instance of
possible espionage within the White House. Philippine media
stories on these latest developments are contained in para 5.

¶3. (SBU) Political reaction to these allegations has been
muted, so far. Presidential Press Secretary Ignacio Bunye
has stated, “We consider it the business of the US government
and we are not making any further comment.” In October 6
remarks to the press, Opposition Senator Panifilo Lacson —
as he has before — acknowledged receiving documents from
Aragoncillo, but downplayed their significance, referring to
their contents as “shallow information.” Former Education
Secretary Florencio Abad, who apparently also received

SIPDIS
information from Aragoncilo, said the documents “were really
nothing new.” Opposition Senator Aquilino Pimentel also
acknowledged seeing such documents.

¶4. (SBU) As we did in the initial set of stories about
Aragoncillo when he was arrested in September (refs a-c),
Mission has not responded and will not respond to inquiries
about the ongoing US investigation. We have referred all
questions to the US Department of Justice.

——————————–
TEXT OF PHILIPPINE MEDIA REPORTS
——————————–

¶5. (U) Following is the full text of several major articles
from the Philippine press:

BEGIN TEXT

“RP: No Comment on White House Spy” (Philippine Daily
Inquirer, 10/07/05)

The Philippine government said Thursday that the arrest of a
former US Marine and naturalized US citizen from the
Philippines who allegedly stole documents from the White
House was an internal US affair.

ABC News reported on Wednesday that the suspect, Leandro
Aragoncillo, had allegedly used his top secret clearance at
the White House to steal classified materials from Vice
President Dick Cheney’s office. Officials told ABC that
among the classified documents allegedly stolen were damaging
dossiers on Philippine President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo,
which were allegedly passed on to opposition politicians
planning a coup in the Pacific nation.

“We consider it as the business of the US government and we
are not making any further comment,” Arroyo spokesperson
Ignacio Bunye told reporters here.

Aragoncillo was arrested last month and accused of
downloading more than 100 classified documents from computers
of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), where he worked
as an analyst after a nearly three-year stint at the White
House. The FBI and CIA are calling it the first case of
espionage at the White House in modern history, according to
ABC. The National Bureau of Investigation (NBI), the
Philippines counterpart of the FBI, declined to comment on
the ABC report.

NBI chief Reynaldo Wycoco had told reporters last month that
the FBI had sought the aid of his agency in tracking down the
recipients of the stolen documents, which were allegedly
passed through former Filipino police official Michael Ray
Aquino.

Aquino fled to the United States after being indicted for
murder here.

The US embassy declined to comment on the case.
Aragoncillo’s alleged spying is suspected of being part of
opposition attempts to gain information to bring down the
Arroyo government. Deposed Philippine president Joseph
Estrada and two other Filipino opposition figures admitted
last month receiving information from Aragoncillo. Estrada,
who is under house arrest while facing corruption charges in
the Philippines, said Aragoncillo visited him in detention
and had passed on some documents on the Philippine political
situation. The transfers apparently occurred between mid-2001
and 2003.

END TEXT

BEGIN TEXT

“Palace, U.S. Mum on Espionage Case (Philippine Star,
10/07/05)

The government said yesterday that the arrest of
Filipino-American FBI analyst Leandro Aragoncillo, who
allegedly stole documents from the White House, was an
internal US affair.

“We consider it the business of the US government and we are
not making any further comment,” Press Secretary Ignacio
Bunye told reporters. “It’s up to them to do what is
necessary. It’s their own breach of security.”

The US Embassy declined to comment on the case. “It’s a legal
and judicial matter,” said Lee McCleeny, the embassy’s
counselor for public affairs.

The Department of Foreign Affairs also declined to comment,
except to say that the government will provide assistance to
former police officer Michael Ray Aquino, who was arrested
along with Aragoncillo also on espionage charges.

“The DFA can’t comment on the matter that is pending before a
US court,” said spokesman Gilberto Asuque. “We are
reiterating that the Philippine consulate general in New York
is ready to assist Mr. Aquino.”

US broadcaster ABC News reported yesterday that Aragoncillo
had allegedly used his top secret clearance at the White
House to steal classified materials from US Vice President
Dick Cheney’s office.

Officials told ABC that among the classified documents
allegedly stolen were damaging dossiers on President Arroyo,
which were allegedly passed on to opposition politicians
planning a coup here.

Aragoncillo was arrested last month and accused of
downloading more than 100 classified documents from computers
of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), where he worked
as an analyst after a nearly three-year stint at the White
House.

The National Bureau of Investigation (NBI), the Philippines’
counterpart to the FBI, declined to comment on the report.

NBI Director Reynaldo Wycoco told reporters last month that
the FBI had sought the aid of his agency in tracking down the
recipients of the stolen documents, which were allegedly
passed through Aquino, who now lives in New York.

Aquino fled to the United States after being indicted for
murder here.

Aragoncillo’s alleged spying is suspected of being part of
opposition attempts to gain information to bring down the
Arroyo administration.

Deposed President Joseph Estrada and two other Filipino
opposition figures admitted last month to receiving
information from Aragoncillo.

Estrada, who is under house arrest while facing corruption
charges in the Philippines, said Aragoncillo visited him in
detention and had passed on some documents on the Philippine
political situation. The transfers apparently occurred
between mid-2001 and 2003.

Justice Secretary Raul Gonzalez said his office wrote to the
FBI to ask for copies of documents that would emerge in the
investigation, but that the US government has not responded.

“A crime has been committed in the United States,” he told
The Associated Press. “Two Filipinos are involved and we
don’t know what classified documents they got, so we want to
know because it might affect the national security situation
in this country.”

He said bits of information that can be gleaned from the
charge sheet against Aragoncillo show there could be some
information used to destabilize the government. He did not
elaborate.

Gonzalez said he was on the phone yesterday with Philippine
Ambassador to Washington Albert del Rosario, who told him
that the Philippine Embassy was keeping tabs on the
Aragoncillo case.

END TEXT

BEGIN TEXT

“Fil-Am Tagged in White House Espionage Case” (Philippine
Star, 10/07/05)

WASHINGTON – In what is believed to be the first espionage
case involving the White House in recent years, a
Filipino-American linked to the political opposition in the
Philippines allegedly used his top secret clearance to steal
classified information from Vice President Dick Cheney’s
office, US broadcaster ABC News reported yesterday.

ABC said Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) analyst
Leandro Aragoncillo, 46, worked undetected at the White House
for almost three years before leaving to take a job with the
agency. He was arrested last month and accused of downloading
more than 100 classified documents from FBI computer
databases.

Aragoncillo is a naturalized US citizen who was born in the
Philippines.

Officials told ABC the classified material which the former
21-year US Marine veteran stole included damaging dossiers on
President Arroyo. They were allegedly passed on to Filipino
opposition politicians planning a coup in the Philippines.

The FBI and CIA are calling it the first case of espionage at
the White House in modern history, according to ABC.

White House officials would not comment on the case and
referred reporters to the FBI, but confirmed an investigation
had been launched. “It is an ongoing investigation and as
such all questions should be directed to the FBI,” White
House Press Secretary Scott McClellan said. “We are
cooperating fully with the investigation.” “No comment, all
questions have to be addressed to the FBI, it’s a pending
investigation and the White House will do its best to
cooperate,” said deputy White House spokesman Trent Duffy.

Justice Department spokesman Brian Roehrkasse said the
department would not comment on an ongoing investigation,
first reported Wednesday evening by ABC. A law enforcement
official, speaking on condition of anonymity because of the
sensitivity of the case, said investigators were examining
all of Aragoncillo’s postings where he had access to
classified information, including the White House. Officials
are trying to figure out how Aragoncillo got his job at the
White House in 1999, and when he started spying, ABC said.
The former Marine worked on the staff of then vice president
Al Gore in 2000 and told friends he also worked with former
US President Bill Clinton and with Condoleezza Rice when she
was national security adviser, the network said.

“Even though it’s not for the Russians or some other
government, the fact that it occurred at the White House is a
matter of great concern,” John Martin, the government’s lead
espionage prosecutor for 26 years, was quoted as saying. “Of
course, it is a source of embarrassment when you find out
that this kind of activity has been carried out literally
right under your nose,” Martin said.

Aragoncillo’s alleged spying is suspected of being part of
opposition attempts to gain information to bring down the
Arroyo administration.

In July 2004, Aragoncillo began working as an FBI
intelligence analyst at its Fort Monmouth Information
Technology Center in New Jersey and began sending classified
information and documents in January, according to an FBI
criminal complaint released by the US Justice Department in
September. The documents’ contents have not been made
public.

From May to Aug. 15 of this year, he printed or downloaded
101 classified documents relating to the Philippines, of
which 37 were classified “secret,” according to the criminal
complaint. Aragoncillo allegedly used personal email
accounts to send the files to individuals in the Philippines,
including former and current public officials, from January
to September 2005. He sent some of the material to Michael
Ray Aquino, a former senior superintendent of the Philippine
National Police who lives in New York City, the complaint
said. Both men were arrested Sept. 10 at their homes and
ordered held without bail following an appearance before a
federal magistrate. Aragoncillo “essentially admitted that
he took classified information,” Assistant US Attorney Karl
¶H. Buch told the magistrate.

Since his arrest, Aragoncillo has been cooperating with
police, according to ABC. “He has admitted to spying while
working on the staff of Vice President Cheney’s office,” the
network said.

Aquino, arrested in March for overstaying a tourist visa, was
charged alongside Aragoncillo with “acting as unregistered
agents of a foreign official and passing classified
information to that official and others in the Republic of
the Philippines.”

Deposed Philippine President Joseph Estrada admitted last
month to receiving information from Aragoncillo. Estrada,
who is under house arrest while facing corruption charges in
the Philippines, said Aragoncillo visited him in detention
and had passed on some documents on the Philippine political
situation. The transfers apparently occurred between mid-2001
and 2003.

Aquino is a known protg of opposition leader Sen. Panfilo
Lacson, who has been active in opposition efforts to oust
Mrs. Arroyo. Both Estrada and Lacson have been actively
calling for the ouster of Mrs. Arroyo, who has been embroiled
in her own political scandal stemming from opposition
allegations that she cheated to win the May 2004 elections.
Lacson, a former national police chief under whom Aquino
served, said he and “many others” received information passed
along by Aquino, but he played down the value of the reports,
describing them as “shallow information.”

Last month, Newark US Attorney Christopher J. Christie said
there was no evidence that the Arroyo administration was
involved, but he would not say if the suspects were in
contact with opposition factions.

The Philippines has been beset by persistent coup rumors
since Mrs. Arroyo was accused of rigging last year’s
elections.

END TEXT

JOHNSON

   

 

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