Thursday, November 20, 2008

CIA blocked inquiries into deaths of missionaries in Peru

Question: Will the long Bush administration nightmare ever end? Answer: Not for years, even after all of the elected officials leave office. Reverberations from what is probably the most incompetent government in U.S. history will go on for decades. What brings this to mind is a classified report released today that an internal CIA investigation has determined that the spy agency deliberately interfered with probes by Congress, NSA and Justice Department to avoid responsibility for the mistaken 2001 downing of a plane carrying U.S. missionaries in Peru. According to the Reuters international news service, the CIA's inspector general said the CIA itself found "sustained and significant" violations of procedure in the agency's conduct of a U.S.-sponsored drug-interdiction program in Peru but had refused to reveal the findings to Congress, the National Security Council and the Justice Department. "Between 1995 and 2001, the agency incorrectly reported that the program complied with the laws and policies governing it," the report said. The 2001 attack killed a missionary couple, Veronica and Jim Bowers, and seriously injured the pilot when a Peruvian jet shot down their plane after the aircraft was tracked by a CIA surveillance plane. Videotape released later indicated the CIA questioned whether the Bowers' plane was carrying drugs before it was shot down. It wasn't. The investigation also found the agency's general counsel advised agency managers not to write anything down to discourage criminal charges being brought against CIA officers and found the agency ignored questions from Condoleezza Rice, then President Bush's national security adviser, about the program. The report was released by U.S. Rep. Pete Hoekstra, the top Republican on the House of Representatives Intelligence Committee.

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