A U.S. investigation into why a missionary plane was shot down by Peruvian military has determined that the missionary plane was partly at fault. "It wasn't blameless," an unnamed senior administration official tells CBS News. "They didn't do everything they were supposed to do [to avoid the incident]."
The report says that pilot Kevin Donaldson filed a round-trip flight plan when he departed Equitos for Islandia, but didn't refile the plan for the return trip. It also says Donaldson either did not have his radio turned to the correct frequency to hear the Peruvian military's warnings or had turned the radio off completely.
Whether the findings are true or not, no one is saying they're justification for the shooting, which resulted in the deaths of missionary Roni Bowers and her 7-month-old daughter. "Even if a pilot makes these technical errors, we have to have a system that does not shoot down innocent aircraft," an unnamed official tells CBS. "No matter what, the Peruvians blew through procedures way too quick." (It's unclear from the article how many unnamed officials are being quoted here.)
The brunt of the criticism in the report, scheduled for public release any day now, will likely be directed at the Peruvian military. The jet never attempted to warn the make missionary plane visually, and fired into the fuselage without any warning shots.
In recent interviews and official testimony, the missionaries and their representatives gave other reasons for the incident. Hank Scheltema, the missionary group's aviation director, told Reuters "there was a breakdown in communications" due to language barriers. "The problem on board was, so I understand, that the Americans did not speak Spanish well, nor did the one Peruvian speak English well," he said.
Members of Congress, including Peter Hoekstra (R-Mich.), are putting the blame squarely on the Peruvian military without qualification. "This wasn't even a close call—there was no reason to shoot down that plane," Hoekstra told The Miami Herald after reviewing video and audio tapes of the incident with missionary Jim Bowers. "It was chaotic, lacked discipline and was very unprofessional." The paper quotes Sen. Bob Graham (D-Fla.), chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, as saying the incident will mean reexamining U.S. involvement in bringing down suspected drug planes.
Missions and ministry:
- Franklin Graham tailors salvation message toward youth | Evangelist speaks at Wofford College in Spartanburg, South Carolina (WYFF, Greenville, South Carolina)
- Graham festival reaches all walks of life | More than 23,000 people jammed the Wofford College's Gibbs Stadium for crusade's final night (WYFF, Greenville, South Carolina)
- In outreach effort, churches minister to the mentally ill | Counseling for the ill, education for the well on the rise in congregations (Chicago Tribune)
- Making a splash on the airwaves | Upstart gets surprising ratings as state's first 24-hour Spanish-language radio station, offering Christian music, biblical teaching and information. (Los Angeles Times)
- God save the teens | Local kids seek a new kind of church through hardcore and hip-hop (The Village Voice)
- Religion flourishes behind bars in United States | The chances of an inmate cleaning up and straightening out seem bleak. But for a few, Christianity or Islam may offer a partial answer. (Reuters)
March for Jesus:
- 500,000 evangelical Protestants March for Jesus in Brazil | Parade, music through the streets of Sao Paulo (Associated Press)
- Orlando onlookers take March for Jesus in stride | Pentecost celebration coincides with Gay Days at Disney (The Orlando Sentinel)
- 'Why not advertise Jesus?' | Steve Chavis of Promise Keepers carries a 9-foot cross down busy Denver street to promote Jesus Day outreach (The Denver Post)
Ministering to sex offenders:
- Couple's 'halfway house' alarming neighbors | Dispute over sex offenders mixes law, religious beliefs (Associated Press/The Miami Herald)
- Texas judge orders notices warning of sex offenders | After mandatory signs on homes and automobiles warning the public of their crimes, one offender attempted suicide, two were evicted from their homes, several had their property vandalized and one offender's father had his life threatened. (The New York Times)
- Disney Gay Days infiltrated | self-described ``Christian guerillas'' seek to record any homoerotic displays to show at Disney's next shareholders' meeting (Associated Press)
- Protest against Cape Town as sex city | Christians oppose suggestion of legal red light district (South African Press Association)
- Pastor accused of public nudity | Pentecostal minister with personalized license plate allegedly asked teens for directions while driving naked (Chicago Tribune)
- Study spurs interfaith marriage debate | Interfaith families, even when they claim to be largely Jewish-identified, inevitably wind up allowing elements of Christianity into their homes. (The Boston Globe)
- Christians accused over domestic violence (The Daily Telegraph)
- Marriage incentives for poor considered | Conservatives will press to earmark millions of dollars for marriage education, require states to end some income tests that discourage parents from getting married, and reward single mothers with cash bonuses if they marry the child's father. (The Boston Globe)
Money and giving:
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