U.S. to resume anti-drug flights in Colombia with few changes since 2001
Missionaries in Colombia and Peru beware: the U.S.-Colombian program that killed American missionary Veronica "Roni" Bowers and her 7-month-old daughter in April 2001 is resuming.
The plan allows fighter pilots to shoot down any plane suspected of transporting drugs. Or transporting terror. Or something. According to Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, the resumption of the U.S.-supported program for the first time since the fatal shooting is because of the war on terror.
Yes, terror. Like the kind that Bowers, her husband, and missionary pilot Kevin Donaldson experienced when the Peruvian military opened fire on them for no apparent reason.
"Me estan matando! Me estan matando!" Donaldson screamed into the radio as the bullets began flying, shredding his leg. "They are killing me!"
The brilliant CIA pilots observing and supporting the shooting spoke less Spanish than the average Sesame Street watcher, and didn't bother to check out the huge registration number on Donaldson's plane or the fact that Donaldson had filed a detailed flight plan. There's an absolutely devastating video of the shoot down, but Weblog can no longer find it online. (Anyone know where it's at? E-mail Weblog.)
Here's what the Los Angeles Times says about the resumption in light of the Bowers tragedy:
U.S. officials said that appropriate safeguards are now in place to prevent a similar tragedy. Under the program, U.S. and Colombian radar sites pinpoint suspected drug flights, then relay that information to the Colombian air force, which has the authority to shoot down the planes. In the past, Colombian air force pilots rarely used weapons, preferring to pressure the planes to land.
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