'Justice Denied' in CIA Shootdown of Missionaries

The CIA pilots begin to have doubts. "This guy doesn't, doesn't fit the profile," says one. But nothing was done to pull the plane back.

The CIA then asks a Peruvian Air Force liaison, "Are you sure is bandito? Are you sure?"

"Yes, okay," says the Peruvian.

"If you're sure," responds the CIA operative. Then more serious doubts were quietly whispered.

"That is bull—," says one CIA operative. "I think we're making a mistake."

"I agree with you," says the other operative.

A minute and a half later the gunships opened fire and the Bowers' pilot, Donaldson, screamed in Spanish for the jet to stop.

"They're killing me. They're killing us," yells Donaldson on the tape.

"Tell him to terminate," says one of the CIA operative to the Peruvian liaison. " No. Don't Shoot. No more, no mas."

The Peruvian liaison starts yelling at the pilot, "Stop! No mas, no mas, Tucan no more."

"God," says one of the CIA pilots.

By then the damage was done. Trailing black smoke, it headed for a river to land, with Veronica Bowers and her daughter Charity already dead from bullet wounds and the pilot wounded in both legs.

Jim Bowers, his son Cory and Kevin Donaldson survived. But for almost nine years, the CIA misled Congress, the White House and the dead woman's parents about how and why the agency defied the rules established to make sure innocent people were not killed.

"I want to know the truth," Garnett Luttig, father of Roni Bowers, told ABC News. "I want to know why. I wonder why my baby's gone. Don't they understand that?"

Said Gloria Luttig, Roni's mother, "I want somebody to have to stand up and say I was responsible. I want him to know what a mother's heart is like."

On Wednesday, the CIA said its nine-year long investigation had determined that 16 CIA employees should be disciplined, including the woman then in charge of counter-narcotics.

Many of them are no longer with the CIA, and one of those involved said his discipline was no more than a letter of reprimand placed in his file, which he was told would be removed in one year.

A CIA spokesperson issued a statement to ABC News Wednesday that placed the blame for the shootdown on the Peruvian Air Force, and said its own internal review had shown no evidence of a cover-up.


"The program to deny drug traffickers an "air bridge" ended in 2001 and was run by a foreign government," said the spokesperson. "CIA personnel had no authority either to direct or prohibit actions by that government. CIA officers did not shoot down any airplane. In the case of the tragic downing of April 21st, 2001, [sic] CIA personnel protested the identification of the missionary plane as a suspect drug trafficker."

The date of the downing was April 20.

"This was a tragic episode that the Agency has dealt with in a professional and thorough manner," continued the statement. "Unfortunately, some have been willing to twist facts to imply otherwise. In so doing, they do a tremendous disservice to CIA officers, serving and retired, who have risked their lives for America's national security."

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