Secret CIA Program Hunted Down Leaders of Colombian Leftist Group
The Central Intelligence Agency and the National Security Agency have provided covert help to Colombia’s government to hunt down and kill leaders of a leftist rebel group. The Washington Post’s Dana Priest reported on the secret program in a big story published over the weekend.
In 2003, after the Bush administration authorized the covert program, the CIA and NSA began providing real-time intelligence to the Colombian government to help their battle against the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, better known by their Spanish acronym, FARC. The program, which targets a U.S.-declared terrorist organization, has been kept secret from the public, and the Obama administration has continued it.
In addition to intelligence, the program included the U.S. giving the Colombian military a particularly effective weapon: a $30,000 GPS guidance kit that transforms an inaccurate bomb into a smart bomb that can kill an individual. Geo-coordinates are programmed into the bomb’s computer. One of the smart bombs was used to launch a cross-border attack against a FARC leader in Ecuador. At least 24 FARC leaders have been killed as a result of the coordination between the U.S. and Colombia.
The Colombian military has been fighting the leftist group since the 1960s. The violent insurgent group has been repeatedly accused of human rights violations and has kidnapped Colombian civilians, which in addition to drug trafficking helps fund the groups. The Colombian government, a strong U.S. ally, has also been accused of human rights violations in their fight against leftist forces in the country, including non-armed actors.
But since late 2012, peace talks between the two sides have taken place.