In June 2001 I wrote an article entitled “Drug-War Killings in Peru,” which condemned the CIA’s participation in the drug-war killings of a 35-year-old missionary named Veronica Bowers and her 7-month-old baby Charity. They had been flying in a small private plane in Peru when CIA officials advised the Peruvian military that the plane might be smuggling drugs. A Peruvian military plane proceeded to shoot down the plane, only to find that it was all a mistake. More fortunate was Bowers’ husband, who survived the attack.
In 2005, the Justice Department shut down its investigation into the matter without prosecuting anyway based partly on representations by the CIA that it had followed standard drug-war procedures prior to the shoot-down.
According to a 2008 report by the CIA’s inspector general, it turns out that CIA officials knowingly, intentionally, and deliberately lied to investigators and covered up CIA wrongdoing in the killings. According to the New York Times :
“According to Mr. Helgerson’s report, C.I.A. officials ‘within hours’ of the downing explained the accident as a one-time mistake in an otherwise sound counternarcotics program. ‘In fact, this was not the case,’ the report said. It said that the C.I.A. repeatedly misled the White House and Congress between 1995 and 2001 about the Peru operation. The inspector general’s report said that after the downing of the missionaries’ plane, the C.I.A. had conducted internal reviews ‘that documented sustained and significant violations of required intercept procedures.’ But it said that the agency had denied Congress, the Department of Justice and the National Security Council access to these findings. Mr. Hoekstra said Thursday that the inspector general’s investigation specifically named C.I.A. officials responsible for the alleged cover-up, but he declined to name those officers.”
Republican Congressman Peter J. Hoekstra, who released unclassified portions of the report, observed, “This is about as ugly as it gets.”
Will the Justice Department pursue criminal prosecutions against the CIA officials involved in the lying and cover-up, as it did against Martha Stewart?
Will U.S. officials ask Peru to indict the CIA agents involved in the killings for murder, manslaughter, or negligent homicide?
Don’t hold your breath.
As most everyone knows, the CIA is not just above the law, it is the law. And the CIA knows what everyone else knows — that few members of Congress and the executive branch will dare to touch an agency whose power is omnipotent and whose mission includes murder, assassination, torture, spying, and destruction.
After all, has any CIA official been indicted for the murder or torture of prisoners at Abu Ghraib? Of course not. How many members of Congress have criticized that?
Has any CIA official been extradited to Italy to stand trial for kidnapping? Of course not. How many members of Congress have criticized that?
Has any CIA official been indicted for kidnapping and renditioning Maher Arar to Syria, whose government President Bush (falsely) claims U.S. officials don’t talk to, for the purpose of torture? Of course not. How many members of Congress have criticized that?
While we’re on the subject of the CIA, given that tomorrow is the 45th anniversary of the Kennedy assassination, wouldn’t that be a good day for the CIA to finally release all its files on the JFK assassination — well, at least the ones the CIA hasn’t destroyed? Isn’t 45 years of resistance to releasing such files long enough? A good place to start would be those files relating to CIA agent George Joannides, who knowingly, intentionally, and deliberately obstructed justice in the JFK investigation.
Don’t hold your breath.