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  U.S. Shares Fault In Peru Incident
Posted by FoM on July 31, 2001 at 17:34:03 PT
By Karen DeYoung, Washington Post Staff Writer 
Source: Washington Post 

justice Peru and the United States were undisciplined and "sloppy" in the way they conducted a joint program to interdict airborne drug smugglers in recent years, and share responsibility for the mistaken shootdown of a civilian aircraft carrying American missionaries over northern Peru in April, according to sources familiar with the findings of a State Department investigation.

The shootdown occurred after a CIA surveillance plane flown by American contract employees targeted the aircraft as a suspected drug flight, tracked it and helped guide a Peruvian Air Force fighter jet to it.

A Baptist missionary, Veronica "Roni" Bowers, and her 7-month-old daughter were killed, and pilot Kevin Donaldson was seriously wounded.

Although the United States preliminarily concluded in the days after the incident that Peru did not comply with shootdown procedures established in a 1994 agreement between the two countries, the report does not assign direct blame, according to several sources, all of whom refused to be identified. Instead, the report compiles facts about the aerial interdiction program as well as the immediate events leading to the April 20 deaths.

Although the sources declined to provide specific details of the report, they said it characterizes the program as having limited U.S. oversight and having evolved over the years into lax adherence to procedures by both the United States and Peru. They said it is likely to prompt calls from Congress and elsewhere to circumscribe or shut down U.S. ground and air radar and tracking assistance to interdiction programs in Peru and Colombia -- neither of which has the radar capability to operate on its own.

The Bush administration suspended intelligence agreements with both countries after the missionary plane shootdown, pending the results of the investigation to be jointly conducted by the United States and Peru. But Bush officials, and Clinton administration officials before, have cited the program as the key factor in a sharp decrease in the cultivation of coca and export of cocaine from Peru over the last five years. They have repeatedly warned that the shipments could easily start up again now that traffickers know the skies are unpatrolled.

Officials said U.S.-based over-the-horizon radar fixed on the Andean region had detected no increase in suspected drug flights during the past three months. But Colombia's ambassador to Washington, Luis Alberto Moreno, said last week that his government, using its own resources, is now detecting only about three or four flights a month, compared with about 20 each month with the Colombia-based U.S. radar and tracking assistance that has been cut off.

Although the CIA has near-exclusive control over the air surveillance program in Peru, the U.S. Customs Service has provided much of the service in Colombia. The Colombians have used the assistance primarily to follow planes reentering the country after suspected drug runs to the Caribbean and the United States, attacking them after they land rather than shooting them down. Much of Colombia's cocaine, which supplies 90 percent of the U.S. market, is transported by sea or land, or a combination of the two.

Administration concern about the program's future has been reflected in its reluctance to release the State Department's Peru report, which was completed weeks ago. Last month, the administration hired an outside expert, former U.S. ambassador to Colombia Morris D. Busby, to study the report and conduct a broad review of the entire policy before it decides what to do.

Based on videotapes and audiotapes from the CIA two-engine Cessna Citation V, it initially appeared to U.S. officials that the Peruvian colonel aboard, his fellow officers in radio contact on the ground and the pilot of the Peruvian Air Force A37B had rushed through, or even skipped, steps set out in the 1994 agreement. The agreement prescribes a sequence of identifying, contacting and then warning a drug flight before firing shots.

But the situation became more complicated after investigators interviewed U.S. and Peruvian program participants and discovered correspondence, training information, memos and other documents from the last six years that made it more difficult to dismiss Peru's insistence that it had not done anything the United States had not agreed to.

The State Department report indicates that tracking and shootdown procedures had evolved, with mutual awareness, into something "much less detailed and defined" than when they started in 1994, a source said. "In bureaucratic language . . . [the report] comes out and says we were sloppy."

Even before the report, questions were raised by former U.S. employees of the program about the initial decision by the CIA contract pilots, on a routine surveillance flight, to track and then target a civilian aircraft that was headed directly toward the region's main airport in Iquitos at midday.

It also appeared that the Peruvians had not checked the registration number, which was written clearly in large black letters on the wing and sides of Donaldson's single-engine Cessna 185.

The State Department and the Association of Baptists for World Evangelism, which employed Donaldson, Bowers and her husband, still disagree on whether Donaldson -- who flew regularly in the area -- had filed an acceptable flight plan for their round-trip mission to the Brazilian border. Bowers's husband and son survived the crash.

Beyond procedural problems, sources said, investigators found that overall training of CIA and Peruvian program participants -- many of whom did not share a common language -- was less than ideal. They also found that there was little U.S. oversight of how the policy was conducted beyond the CIA station and American Embassy in Lima.

"There wasn't somebody each and every year, every quarter, going in and saying, 'Hey, are we sure this policy is still being carried out correctly? Is there a checklist of procedures in the plane? Is training being done correctly?' " a source said. The checklist "didn't exist."

A draft report by the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, which conducted its own investigation of the interdiction program and April 20 incident, reaches similar conclusions, sources said. Although the CIA said it also would investigate, officials there declined to provide information on the inquiry.

The shootdown provoked widespread public and congressional outrage in April, echoing concerns raised inside the Clinton administration in early 1994, when Peru and Colombia said they intended to force airborne smugglers located and tracked with U.S. assistance to land or, if necessary, to shoot them down. As a result, the Clinton administration suspended an earlier version of the air intelligence-sharing program.

Lawyers in the Defense and Justice departments argued at the time that it was against U.S. and international law to fire at civilian aircraft except in self-defense. They said it would undermine U.S. arguments on air terrorism in international forums, and that the United States could be held liable if it provided assistance to shoot civilian planes out of the air, no matter what was aboard them.

But President Bill Clinton was under strong political pressure to adopt a tough line against drug smuggling and, after a prolonged administration debate, he proposed, and Congress passed, a law exempting U.S. government employees from liability for any "mistakes" that might occur while cooperating with another country's shootdown policy.

In December of that year, Clinton certified that such cooperation was a national security necessity and that the countries in question -- Peru and Colombia -- had "appropriate procedures in place to protect innocent aircraft."

Before Bowers and her daughter were killed, Peru had carried out 38 shootdowns or forcedowns with U.S. assistance since the program restarted in late 1994, resulting in 20 deaths. All were confirmed as drug smugglers after Peruvian investigations conducted on the ground with no U.S. participation.

After the April incident, the Bush administration fended off congressional demands for immediate details about the overall program and specifics of the shootdown by ordering the investigation. Based on its findings, officials said, they would take whatever measures were necessary to prevent future mistakes before reactivating the program.

Officials estimated that the inquiry, headed by Rand Beers, assistant secretary of state for international narcotics and law enforcement affairs, would take no more than a few weeks, and promised the report would be handed over to Congress immediately. But a "collective" decision was made in June by "the most senior levels of this government" to withhold the Beers report pending a separate policy review, an administration official said.

An administration official said last week that Busby's findings and recommendations would "not necessarily result in immediate action. It will be used to stimulate discussion within the administration about what the policy should be with regard to that program."

In the meantime, the House voted last Tuesday to withhold $65 million in military and development aid for Peru next year, part of the administration's overall counterdrug plan for the Andean region, until it gets the report and the president, State Department and CIA certify that corrective steps have been taken. The Senate intelligence committee is still considering what recommendations will accompany its report.

In apparent response to concern over the aid cuts, and the imminent release of the Senate intelligence committee report, sources said the administration has decided to release the Beers report this week before Busby's policy review is completed.

Note: Probe Blames Procedures in Shootdown.

Newshawk: dddd
Source: Washington Post (DC)
Author: Karen DeYoung, Washington Post Staff Writer
Published: Tuesday, July 31, 2001; Page A01
Copyright: 2001 The Washington Post Company

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Comment #11 posted by mayan on August 01, 2001 at 17:37:31 PT
I couldn't agree more Kap'n. we have great numbers in our camp but many are handicapped by apathy. If everyone who advocates decrim or legalization would get off their duffs & write their legislators or a letter to the editor or just ANYTHING for the cause , this war would be over very soon.

Some people would rather just let NORML or other reform organizations do all the work, but it will take effort by all of us to create any lasting change.



[ Post Comment ]

Comment #10 posted by kaptinemo on August 01, 2001 at 12:05:35 PT:

No, GF, I'm not surprised in the least
My credulity hardly extends that far; I'd have to be really ripped for that :-)

BTW, I am always sober when I write here. If there's one thing I can't stand, it's someone getting high and sending some cutesy-poo inanity like "Whoopeee!, I'm sooo stooooned!" or other such irrelevencies.

Maybe I'm wrong in assuming this, but all too often such noise is indicative of a lack of effort on the part of the writer; they get stoned, get on here, shout "Right on, man!"...and then go back to their couch for more bong hits, rendering themselves null-and-void, activist-wise. We have entirely too many of such in our camp. And it's partly to blame for why the antis have had the run of the roost for so long; they expect such behavior. They count on it.

And unfortunately, too many of us oblige them. Way too many.

[ Post Comment ]

Comment #9 posted by greenfox on August 01, 2001 at 08:37:53 PT
KAPTINEMO.... you act surprised?
So typical of the anti mindset that Joyce and Frances demonstrate : everything bass-ackward. Destroy rights to 'protect' citizens. And murder children to 'save' them.

And this is surprising? Think about it.

war is peace
ignorance is strength

and of course, love big brother. :)

sly in green,
foxy in kind....


[ Post Comment ]

Comment #8 posted by Lehder on August 01, 2001 at 00:53:32 PT
complete document
Link (scroll to bottom) to complete text of "Assassination Politics"

I'm only a near-term cynic. With people working and thinking so hard, the Internet I think will, somehow or other, break mankind of the ugly habit of war, both foreign and domestic. Is the war on the drug-war, truly, the 'war to end wars'? Maybe.

[ Post Comment ]

Comment #7 posted by Rambler on August 01, 2001 at 00:30:40 PT
famous quote
Homer Simpson says;

"I'm sorry,but I never apologize for anything."

[ Post Comment ]

Comment #6 posted by Lehder on August 01, 2001 at 00:28:44 PT
"Assassination Politics"
I think the public wants to be able to buy freedom and liberty over the Internet.
-- Jim Bell, Inventor of Assassination Politics

What is Assassination Politics?

It's an unholy mix of encryption, anonymity, and digital cash to bring about the ultimate annihilation of all
forms of government.

It's fascinating too. Frankly, I think a bullet is too good for the world's would-be Hitlers and too easy for all the rest of us too. Because there's too big and too important a lesson here to be overlooked in the rush to retribution. I want war-crimes trials to bring about - it's their invention - closure. War-crimes trials and the global experience of the "War on Drugs" will I hope finally bring humanity to its senses and be known forever after as the terminus of the relentless repetion of the same history of hatred and repression, persecution and intolerance. It's really getting old, fighting this same war every few decades, and it wastes a lot of time and life. I'm not for a second going to be enthralled by anything so foolish and probably unworkable anyway as "Assassination Politics" - because that would be falling into the very same trap of hatred. It might even be a Doomsday Machine, an unstable system of assassination that would wipe out humanity altogether. But it certainly is fascinating reading, late at night.
PAZ (Really!)

[ Post Comment ]

Comment #5 posted by dddd on July 31, 2001 at 22:53:22 PT
...Wow Kap....the 4/20 thing is a bit of a mind boggling coincidence?


[ Post Comment ]

Comment #4 posted by jorma nash on July 31, 2001 at 19:27:18 PT
'diffused responsibility'.
from jorma's quote bin:

(unfortunately didn't get the source)

"no snowflake in an avalance ever feels responsible."

[ Post Comment ]
Comment #3 posted by grassmike on July 31, 2001 at 18:55:27 PT:

what do ya expect
Not much to say on this one. How can you call it a war if no one gets killed? Ought to be at least one person killed per billion spent.

[ Post Comment ]
Comment #2 posted by Ethan Russo, MD on July 31, 2001 at 18:53:12 PT:

Recipe for Disaster:
Unjustifiable policy


Impossible goals


Powerful toys in the hands of ignorant automatons


"Lax enforcement"


Death of Innocents


Lack of Responsibility for Spectacular Failure


Continuation of morally bankrupt policy.

It is time to pull the plug on this atrocity.

[ Post Comment ]

Comment #1 posted by kaptinemo on July 31, 2001 at 18:33:07 PT:

"...the report does not assign direct blame...
Of course it doesn't. Like all government ventures, we are
witnessing what's referred to as 'diffused responsibility'.

Which usually means that everyone involved in the process
is to blame, but no one will be punished for it. Because
if anyone is punished, then the Big Boys at the top
of the food chain must be as well. And we can't have
that, now can we?

But this is especially interesting:

"Instead, the report compiles facts about the aerial
interdiction program
as well as the immediate events
leading to the April 20 deaths.

We have already witnessed Congressmen Gilman of Virginia
and ex(?)-CIA bagman Goss make mealymouth,
toe-in-the-water attempts at floating the idea that the
Bower's murders were acceptable collateral damage in their
precious little DrugWar. The only reason they would bother
with statistics is to try to use them to justify those
deaths as being 'necessary' to achieve their chimerical
"DrugFree America!".

Children, can you say, "Whitewash!"? Sure you can!

But here's what's really sad: they died on 4/20 day. While
they were being slaughtered in the air (and I VERY
STRONGLY SUGGEST that you all go out and get the latest
HIGH TIMES; Peter Gorman notes that the
pontoons the plane used for floatation had bullet entry
holes from underneath giving some credibility to
the rumor that the survivors were strafed while the
plane lay belly-up in the water
) some of us were at
the Washington DC NORML conference, peacably enjoying
each other's company.

We 'criminals' were behaving very nicely towards each
other, harming nothing and no one...while the real
criminals murdered a woman and her infant child. Who were
in the process of selflessly doing God's work. (Joyce?
Frances? Would you care to step in at this point and make
a few comments about how terrible it is that children have
to die for the sake of your jihad?)

So typical of the anti mindset that Joyce and Frances
demonstrate : everything bass-ackward. Destroy rights to
'protect' citizens. And murder children to 'save' them.

[ Post Comment ]

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