CIA Crew Urged Caution About Plane, Official Says 

CIA Crew Urged Caution About Plane, Official Says 
Posted by FoM on April 22, 2001 at 21:44:29 PT
Alan Sipress and Karen DeYoung, WP Staff Writers
Source: Washington Post
CIA personnel aboard a U.S. surveillance plane that helped target an aircraft carrying American missionaries over Peru objected strongly when a Peruvian fighter jet was given authorization to shoot down the flight before ascertaining who was on board, a U.S. intelligence official said yesterday.The three-member American crew, contracted by the CIA as part of U.S. anti-drug efforts in Latin America, repeatedly appealed to a Peruvian air force liaison on board their flight for additional measures to check the identity of the suspect plane and force it to land peacefully, the official said.
But the liaison refused to relay the request to the Peruvian fighter jet that had been notified by the CIA crew about the suspicious plane and was quickly closing on it, the intelligence official said. An American missionary, Veronica "Roni" Bowers, and her 7-month-old daughter Charity were killed when the air force jet shot down the single-engine Cessna 185 owned by the U.S.-based Association of Baptists for World Evangelism."The U.S. crew repeatedly expressed their concern that the nature of the aircraft had not been determined," the official said. "Despite serious concerns raised by the U.S. crew, shoot-down was ordered by the Peruvian air force. . . . They [the Americans] were surprised when the firing began because it happened so quickly."The surviving missionaries were flown yesterday from Peru to the United States. Jim Bowers, whose wife and daughter were killed, arrived with his 6-year-old son Cory in Morrisville, N.C. The plane's pilot, 41-year-old missionary Kevin Donaldson, whose leg was fractured by gunfire, was flown to Philadelphia for medical treatment. Donaldson had brought the crippled plane down to a safe landing on the Amazon River, where the survivors were rescued by villagers.The Peruvian government, which said Saturday that its military had followed standard procedures during the incident, has not yet provided its own public account. But Foreign Minister Javier Perez de Cuellar said in Quebec City that "the Peruvian authorities are responsible and we regret what happened." Speaking in an interview at the end of the 34-nation Summit of the Americas, Perez de Cuellar said he had expressed "condolences" to President Bush.Bush, before departing Quebec, said at a news conference that "our government is involved with helping, and a variety of agencies are involved with helping our friends in South America identify airplanes that might be carrying illegal drugs." He said that as a result of the missionary shoot-down, U.S. surveillance flights had been suspended "until we get to the bottom of the situation . . . to understand what went wrong in this terrible tragedy."Spokesmen for the Baptist missionary group, headquartered in Pennsylvania, repeated their insistence that Donaldson had filed a flight plan for the mission. The plane took off Thursday from the northern Peruvian city of Iquitos, flew to a small town on Peru's border with Colombia and Brazil, and was returning to Iquitos. They said the plane received no warning before being fired upon.The U.S. intelligence official said an initial review indicated the Peruvian air force had failed to take several steps under the rules of engagement established by the two countries to govern their drug interdiction efforts. These procedures, which include making visual contact with a suspicious plane, trying to motion it to land and firing warning shots, were put in place to minimize civilian casualties that could occur when the United States shares radar and other intelligence information with the Peruvian air force, the official said."It appears the stages were very compressed, rushed and not fully complied with," he said.Although the American crew aboard the surveillance tracking plane tried to persuade the Peruvian liaison officer to intervene to slow the confrontation, they did not contact the fighter pilot directly, the U.S. official said. He said American personnel, by agreement, are not in the Peruvian chain of command and have no authority to direct Peruvian operations.The Americans aboard the surveillance plane, however, did contact the U.S. Embassy in Lima by radio to urge that the fighter jet hold off firing because of doubts about the identity of the small aircraft, according to U.S. officials familiar with these communications. That conversation, conducted in English, was overheard by a U.S. Customs Service P-3 surveillance aircraft that was flying on an unrelated mission in northern Colombia at the time, as well as by the U.S. military, sources said.The U.S. plane videotaped the confrontation and recorded all its radio transmissions. But American officials said yesterday they were not prepared to disclose the tapes or transcripts.According to the account provided by the American intelligence official, the U.S. surveillance plane, a twin-engine Cessna Citation V owned by the Department of Defense, notified its base at 9:43 a.m. Friday that radar had detected an unidentified aircraft crossing from Peru into Brazilian airspace. The surveillance plane reported a second sighting 12 minutes later when the aircraft reentered Peru. Following standard procedures, the Peruvian air force officer in the jungle city of Pucallpa checked whether the plane was on an approved flight plan but was unable to find one.While the Peruvian air force launched an A-37B jet to intercept the unidentified aircraft, the Peruvian officer aboard the CIA plane tried to contact it on three different radio frequencies in Spanish, the U.S. official said. He said the American crew heard the officer attempting to make contact but no response was received.Under the rules of engagement, the Peruvian jet should have then tried to make visual contact using internationally recognized procedures and motion the plane to land for inspection. But instead, the Peruvian officer on the U.S. plane directed the fighter pilot to move to "phase two," which ordinarily involves firing warning shots, and then quickly on to the potentially lethal "stage three." The American personnel did not see tracer fire that would have served as a warning shots nor hear any reference to it during the radio communication between the Peruvian liaison officer and the fighter pilot, the official said.As the Peruvian fighter prepared to open fire on the small plane, the American crew objected, asking the liaison officer to have the fighter pilot attempt to see its tail number. The fighter pilot radioed the tail number back to the liaison officer aboard the American plane but he did not call it to the ground command for verification. At 10:43 a.m., over the Americans' objections, the Peruvian air force authorized that the plane be shot down, the U.S. official said.The crew of the U.S. plane could see the missionary aircraft, but did not come close enough to distinguish who was aboard. Jim Bowers told relatives that the U.S. plane circled above the crash site after the shoot-down.After arriving in North Carolina, Bowers issued a statement saying: "I have heard various reports about he events surrounding the shooting down of our mission plane. I am trusting that the publicity will eventually agree with what I know to be the truth."The CIA is one of several military and civilian agencies that participate in a ground, air and communications intercept program as part of the U.S. anti-drug effort in South America. Focused primarily on the Andean countries that are the center of cocaine production, those efforts are coordinated through the Joint Interagency Task Force based in Key West, Fla.Peru has long been a major center of cultivation of coca, the raw material of cocaine. Harvested and partially processed into paste, the coca is exported to Colombia, where it is turned into cocaine powder and exported to the United States. The principal goal of U.S. anti-drug efforts in Peru has long been to intercept the small planes that fly coca paste over the border.U.S. officials frequently cite the success of the air interdiction program -- in which the Peruvians have brought down at least 30 planes since 1995 -- as the principal reason for a 65 percent decline in Peruvian coca production and drug exports during the 1990s. But overall cocaine production in the region has increased as much of Peru's coca cultivation has moved to Colombia.The air interdiction efforts are authorized under a 1994 intelligence sharing agreement between the United States and both Colombia and Peru, although the current Colombian government has largely abandoned a shoot-down policy.As explained by current and former U.S. officials, information on any plane flying through the region is collected by high-flying U.S. reconnaissance aircraft -- either P-3 Orions or AWACS -- ground-based radar, signals and human intelligence. If a plane is deemed suspect, a U.S. air-radar tracker is sent into the sky to pinpoint its location.The Defense Department, the U.S. Customs Service, the Drug Enforcement Administration, the State Department's international narcotics bureau, the CIA and other agencies all fly tracking missions depending, as one official put it, on "who is around on a given day and what planes are available."Staff writers Edward Walsh in Washington and Marcela Sanchez in Quebec City contributed to this report.Source: Washington Post (DC) Author: Alan Sipress and Karen DeYoung, Washington Post Staff WritersPublished: Monday, April 23, 2001; Page A01 Copyright: 2001 The Washington Post Company Contact: letterstoed washpost.comWebsite: Articles:Survivors Return Home, Family Deny Peru Account Says U.S. Role Was To Provide Information Identified Baptists' Plane as Drug Carrier 
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Comment #9 posted by dddd on April 23, 2001 at 14:00:12 PT
The "facts" come in
Good comments Tim.Notice how the story has morphed.First reports said no flight plan,,,then the guy at the airport says there wasa flight plan......suddenly,the same guy says there wasnt really a flight plan,but the Cessna radioed the tower ten minutes before being shot down,and thatwas why he said there was a flight plan......The coverup is all too obvious. Notice how it's also unclear exactly who was on board the american spotting plane,,private contractors?,,CIA?It's too bad that this incident didnt involve Bill Clintons weenie,then we wouldget to the facts.It's true,,,this will be distorted to the point of blaming the whole thing on drugs,saying that it would have never happened if it weren't for people who use drugs.dddd 
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Comment #8 posted by Tim Stone on April 23, 2001 at 13:16:24 PT
The Vietnamization of the Drug War
For anyone old enough to remember, this incident has a strong whiff of the U.S. trying to use the South Vietnamese army to fight U.S. policy. Make no mistake: This interdiction policy is 100% U.S. For political, national soverignty and logistic reasons, the U.S. can't have U.S. F-18s piloted by active duty U.S. pilots doing this dirty work. So the U.S. uses the Peruvian air force, which is supplied and trained by the U.S. Yes, the parallel with Vietnam seems fairly strong. The U.S. is pulling all the strings, even if the Peruvian puppets are the ones making the actual motions. And that's why I don't for an instant buy the U.S. line that this is a result of a Peruvian screw-up. Of course the other reason for using Peruvians rather than U.S. military for this sort of operation is precisely so that when snafus like this occur, the Peruvians can take the fall and the U.S. and its policy can maintain plausibility, fall down the privy hole and come out still smelling like a rose. Blame the puppeteer, not the puppets. J'accuse!
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Comment #7 posted by Tim Stone on April 23, 2001 at 13:03:12 PT
And the butt-covering commences...
"It's the Peruvians fault, it's the Peruvians's fault." That seems to be the U.S. party line. This is so huge a screw-up that it looks like the U.S. can't even try to blame the victims. McCaffery goes on national t.v. and says, in effect, that it's too bad, but acceptable for collateral damage like this to occur. After all, sayeth the Gen'l, the evil drug lords are responsible for 52,000 [sic] deaths in the U.S. per year, so if the odd God-botherer gets shot out of the sky, the the U.S. policy is still a net gain and therefore should be maintained. (Still waiting for you to release that "study" that purported to show 52,000 drug deaths so that somebody outside the ONDCP can go over the numbers and see how you cooked up that bogus howler. Any day now, right, Gen'l ?)The U.S. position seems to be a dollop of regret for the victims, some modest breat-beating and tua culpa (your fault, Peruvians!), while above all else striving to make sure that the policy remains in place and fundamentally unquestioned. The latest line from the White House is that this is an "isolated incident." May I suggest that as a fitting epitaph for the seven-month old baby: Here lies an "Isolated Incident."And yes, good folk, the Authorities _will_ get away with this and policy will remain unchanged and unchallenged. Somewhere in the U.S., another 4,200 or so citizens will scratch their heads and wonder if maybe the drug war hasn't gone a bit too far, and U.S. allies - if we have any left - will be even more reticent to assist the U.S. in its drug policies in any way. But that will be about the extent of the effect of this tragic incident. 
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Comment #6 posted by New Mexican on April 23, 2001 at 09:55:51 PT
Impeach Bush!
should be the rallying cry at this point, what kind of disaster would it have taken the republikkkans to jump on Klinton and call for impeachment---lying about sex! If that's the best they could do, what's stopping us? Wehave the Lincoln Submarine tour, the China jet snafu, andnow this...outright murder with American logistical support!C'mon people, let's get on it! Impeach Bush for Treason.Stealing an election in broad daylight was enough, how muchwill it take for critical mass? As the Kap says...this couldbe the straw that breaks the camels back! Right now on MSNBCthe press conference is going on with the pilots' families...will they ask the inflamitory questions a rabid media should ask (no!) or will they treat it lightly and minimize the murderous aspect of this sordid affair to protect the War on Some Drugs for Oil Exploration interests? As well as the medias' complicity in this modern day holocaust imposed on the world by the USA, withlackey industry spokes-people disguised as journalists, not asking the question: are you willing to see Americans dieat the hands of our government in the name of drug prohibition? Don't expect to hear this question asked,for it will bring this boondoggle down!
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Comment #5 posted by kaptinemo on April 23, 2001 at 05:03:23 PT:
Who's teaching the Peruvians the Law of War?
As a soldier, I had had extensive instruction in the Laws of War. Everybody did. And they were quite simple and easily understood:from the following article:Teaching the Laws of War Fight only enemy combatants.2. Do not harm enemy soldiers who surrender. Disarm them and  turn them over to your superior.3. Do not kill or torture prisoners.4. Collect and care for the wounded, whether friend or foe.5. Do not attack medical personnel, facilities, or  equipment.6. Destroy no more than the mission requires.7. Treat all civilians humanely.8. Do not steal. Respect private property and possessions.9. Do your best to prevent violation of the law of war.    Report all violations of the law of war to your superior.I have to wonder: if the Peruvian government is receiving US funds to buy the aircraft, fuel, ammunition, etc. and receiving intel from our spook planes, what have they agreed to do for us? Follow the conventions of the Laws of War? Presumably those pilots were trained at a US facility (the infamous 'School of the America's', perhaps?) so they should have received a block of training sometime during their stay on the Geneva Conventions, LOW, etc.Maybe they skipped the parts about #'s 4, 6, and 7?Because, what do they do? They fire upon helpless civs in an aircraft incapable of defending itself, and then strafe the wounded on the ground.This could Be It, friends. This could be the straw that breaks the back of the DrugWarriors. The Religious Right looks upon missionaires as saints; shooting them down in cold blood and then strafing the survivors is as close to blasphemy as many will get. Any pol who dares mutter any nonsense about 'acceptable losses' or 'fortunes of war' will be righteously burned; just look at what happened when those missionaries were shot down by the Cubans.Write your Congresscritters and Sin-a-tors (a real letter; they don't read email, anymore) and let 'em know how you feel about Peruvian DrugWar flunkies misusing their American taxpayer-funded supplies to kill innocent Americans...and offhandedly but pointedly ask just what he or she is going to do about it?. And just add that this kind of thing is inevitable when governments go overboard in fighting a War on Drugs that many pols have privately admitted that they can't win. Give them an opportunity to make public their private misgivings. As sick and sad as this latest development is, it just might be the 'tipping point' that starts the last phase of dismantling this monstrosity.
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Comment #4 posted by lookinside on April 23, 2001 at 03:27:53 PT:
more lies...they were shooting at the survivors on theground to eliminate the witnesses...     IMPEACH BUSH!!!
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Comment #3 posted by Dan B on April 22, 2001 at 23:50:06 PT:
The Unreported Tragedy Of It
Does anyone see the hateful implication of every single report so far regarding this plane being shot down?If there were drugs on board that plane, the Peruvian military would have been viewed as perfectly within their rights to shoot the plane down as a first option. The only reason why this even made the news is because it is the first time civilians have been shot down erroneously for "drug smuggling" and lived to tell about it!The only reason why these people even care is that the people on board were Christian missionaries, not drug smugglers. But here's the thing: every plane shot down by these "missions" had people on board, and those people likely died as a result of being shot down. Who here thinks that the Peruvian military, in close alliance with the U.S., has ever bothered with an attempt to force these planes to safely land? After all, they were shooting at these civilians even after their plane had landed!In another article posted on C-News, Bush said he was "sorry" that Americans died. Of course, he wouldn't have felt a need to apologize if those Americans happened to have a baggie of cannabis in the luggage compartment.He wouldn't have felt the need to apologize if one of these planes were shot down over a Peruvian village and killed innocent people on the ground, either. After all, those people aren't Americans. I have no positive feelings toward a person who continues to promote hateful and destructive policies, apologizing along the way to the families of those he has murdered. If it were my family member and he apologized to me, I'd personally fly to Washington D.C. just so I could spit in his face.Dan B 
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Comment #2 posted by Rambler on April 22, 2001 at 23:36:29 PT
Americas Wildest Military Videos
"The U.S. plane videotaped the confrontation and recorded all its radio transmissions. But American officials said yesterday they were not prepared to disclose the tapes or transcripts."Yea,next week,on FOX,they are gonna show the tapes,and then on ABC,Sam Donaldson and Cokie Roberts are going to have an interview withWilliam Bennett,in which he will admit to having a nagging crack problemfor the last 10 years.Dont you just love how the guy at the airport originally said,"Yes,they didfile a flight plan",,,but then he had to clarify,that somehow they didnt reallyfile a flight plan,,but they sorta filed one by radio to the tower about tenminutes before the MURDER took place.Just watch as they squirm and worm their way around this.In the end,no one willactually be held responsible,and they will summarize the matter by sayingit was a tragic occurance,and that they will look into reviewing their policiesin the region so they can keep those bad Peruvians from murdering peoplewith American bullets and planes.
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Comment #1 posted by Robbie on April 22, 2001 at 22:27:15 PT
Convenience in happenstance
"The U.S. crew repeatedly expressed their concern that the nature of the aircraft had not been determined," the official said. "Despite serious concerns raised by the U.S. crew, shoot-down was ordered by the Peruvian air force. . . . They [the Americans] were surprised when the firing began because it happened so quickly."But Foreign Minister Javier Perez de Cuellar said in Quebec City that "the Peruvian authorities are responsible and we regret what happened."The U.S. plane videotaped the confrontation and recorded all its radio transmissions. But American officials said yesterday they were not prepared to disclose the tapes or transcripts.Does anyone else see this as all too convenient? Why does the American "official" not identify himself? Why should the tapes and/or transcripts not be available?I am obviously speculating, but since Peru's only real interest in fighting the Drug War is at the behest of the American government, it stands to reason that they would help the US government out in what could be the worst PR disaster for the War on Drugs to date. Let's see who really gave the "shoot order."
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