The terrorists you hear about
The terrorists you hear about… and the terrorists you don’t hear about.
If you ask which group was responsible for most attacks on civilian aircraft in 2001, most people would probably think of Al Qaeda, with hijacked aircraft crashing into the World Trade Center in New York and the Pentagon in Washington.
But in terms of the number of aircraft attacked, if not the number of deaths, the CIA seems to have surpassed Al Qaeda.
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The CIA obstructed inquiries into its role in the shooting down of an aircraft carrying a family of U.S. missionaries in Peru in 2001, the agency’s inspector general has concluded.
The inspector-general’s report said a CIA-backed program in Peru targeting drug runners was so poorly run that many suspect aircraft were shot down by Peruvian air force jets without proper checks being made first.
Unclassified portions of the report were made public for the first time on Thursday by U.S. Rep. Pete Hoekstra, the top Republican on the House of Representatives Intelligence Committee, who criticized the CIA for the ‘needless’ deaths.
These events did get reported at the time, but they tended to escape unnoticed in the much greater publicity given to Al Qaeda atrocities.
When he got off the plane that brought him to North Carolina, Jim Bowers wondered aloud to his mother if he could ever get the images out of his mind.
The smoke from the guns of a Peruvian Air Force A-37 that shot through the small aircraft carrying his missionary family. The screams in Spanish of the Cessna’s pilot: ‘They’re killing us! They’re killing us!’ The blood on his infant daughter. His wife slumped over in her seat.
More than a year has passed since a single bullet took the lives of Bowers’ wife, Roni, and his daughter, Charity, in the sky over the Amazon River. A Baptist, Bowers credits his faith with sustaining him and his 7-year-old son, Cory.
He says he’s forgiven the U.S. and Peruvian officials who mistook his family’s plane for a drug smuggler’s. The two governments have acknowledged errors were made, and President Bush has called him to express regret.
But Bowers still longs for an apology from the CIA, who officials said hired the surveillance crew that first told the Peruvians about the flight — then never explicitly stopped them from shooting.
“From the very beginning I wasn’t expecting anything except for someone to admit they did something wrong and to be punished for it,” Bowers said recently from his mother’s home in this Raleigh suburb. “Then I realized as the months went by that there wasn’t going to be anybody punished.
Whether it’s the “war on drugs” or “the war on terror”, or Al Qaeda’s “war on US imperialism”, to the minds that plan these things, “collateral damage” is an acceptable risk.
As with the coroner who told the jury in the Jean Charles de Mernezes case that they could not return a verdict of “unlawful killings”, the culture of impunity is growing in the Western so-called “democracies”, as they turn into police states, where the agents of law can kill anyone they like and get away with it.
The trouble is, this is not law and order; it is vigilantism.