#cablegate The US is not willing to help Panama's President conduct politically-oriented wiretaps against political foes.
See 2009 Panama 639
¶1. (S//NF) President Martinelli has reached out to the
Embassy, among other actors, to request help in building
infrastructure to conduct wiretaps against ostensible
security threats as well as political opponents. The
Ambassador has made it clear to the president that the USG
will continue our successful judicialized law enforcement
wiretap program with Panama, but we will not be party to any
effort to expand wiretaps to domestic political targets.
Martinelli's seeming fixation with wiretaps and his comments
to Ambassador during an August 12 meeting demonstrate that he
may be willing to set aside the rule of law in order to
achieve his political and developmental goals. Martinelli
has publicly declared that wiretapping will be a key law
enforcement tool, and has submitted a draft wiretap bill to
the national assembly. Civil liberties advocates are girding
for a fight, and this issue could provide the first serious
challenge to Martinelli's popularity.