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A top-ranking Republican said he will call for a new federal inquiry into an alleged CIA cover-up in the 2001 military attack on a small plane in Peru that killed an American missionary and her infant child.

Rep. Peter Hoekstra, R-Mich., the ranking Republican on the House Select Committee on Intelligence, said the attack that killed Veronica and Charity Bowers can be traced to a reckless CIA-sponsored drug interception program that had already downed numerous other planes.

Hoekstra also said the CIA may be responsible for a widespread cover-up designed to hide embarrassing details about the Bowers' deaths and similar incidents in the skies over Peru between 1995 and 2001.

A new report from CIA Inspector General John Helgerson accuses the agency of running a reckless air interception program for illegal drugs and ignoring regulations and procedures designed to protect innocent air travelers.

That type of disregard for procedure might have led to the unnecessary downing of several private planes during the six-year life of the "Narcotics Airbridge Denial Program," culminating with the Bowers tragedy, Hoekstra said.

"To say these deaths did not have to happen is an understatement," said Hoekstra, who also represents the Bowers' hometown of Muskegon.

"The CIA knew about repeated serious issues with this program but took no corrective action, which could have prevented this needless tragedy. Making matters worse, the inspector general found continuous efforts to cover the matter up and potentially block a criminal investigation."

The CIA has admitted that proper procedures were not followed during the April 20, 2001, attack on the missionary plane carrying the Bowers family, according to Hoekstra.

The attack, by a Peruvian Air Force ...

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November 2008

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