Pubdate: Wed, 08 Aug 2001
Source: Sacramento Bee (CA)
Copyright: 2001 The Sacramento Bee


Thumbs down: A State Department report on what caused the deaths of 
two Americans -- a woman and her infant child -- in a missionary 
plane shot down in Peru last April has confirmed what seemed apparent 
at the time: There was a tragic breakdown in communication between a 
Peruvian fighter plane and a U.S. drug surveillance plane, and a 
failure to follow prescribed procedures and exercise caution before 
firing at innocents.

A videotape with audio recording released as part of the report made 
clear that the U.S. plane's crew did sense early on that the civilian 
plane and its movements did not fit the profile of a drug-trafficking 
craft. But the Americans and Peruvians involved did not speak each 
other's language well enough to avoid misunderstandings. The Peruvian 
pilot, for whatever reason, failed to hold off as urged repeatedly by 
the U.S. crew via a Peruvian liaison officer on the U.S. plane.

The drug interdiction program should be discontinued, at least until 
everyone engaged can converse comfortably in both English and Spanish 
and understands that shooting down planes ought to be a last resort. 
Beyond that, Congress ought to focus on the larger question of 
whether it's worth the risks inherent in shooting down planes based 
on profiles rather than actual evidence of serious criminal activity. 
These deaths didn't have to happen.
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MAP posted-by: Kirk