Dramatic video taken from a CIA surveillance craft shows Peruvian fighter jets opening fire on and shooting down a plane carrying innocent American missionaries who were mistaken for drug smugglers, ABC News reported.
Peruvian pilots issued a warning, but because the missionary plane pilot was on a different frequency he did not hear it. The missionaries' pilot can be heard screaming for help as the fighter jets open fire.
The pilot was flying missionaries Jim and Veronica "Roni" Bowers and their children -- Cory, 6, and 7-month-old Charity -- as they returned from a routine trip to Brazil.
The video's release has re-ignited accusations that the CIA lied to Congress to cover up its role in the bungled 2001 operation, which ended in the deaths of Veronica Bowers and baby Charity.
Rep. Pete Hoekstra, R.-Mich., has campaigned for the Bowers family and said this week justice has yet to be served, ABC News reported.
"The [intelligence] community's performance in terms of accountability has been unacceptable," ABC News quoted Hoekstra, a member of the House Intelligence Committee. "These were Americans that were killed with the help of their government, the community covered it up, they delayed investigating."
Before the deadly attack, the CIA aircraft came up behind the Bowers's plane, piloted by Kevin Donaldson. Believing it was an aircraft used for drug trafficking, the CIA alerted the Peruvian Air Force, which scrambled a fighter jet.
Over the next two hours, as doubts set in, the CIA pilots repeatedly expressed their concern over the true identity of their target but did nothing to prevent the Peruvians from shooting down the missionaries.
In the footage, conversation between the Peruvians and the CIA, and the missionaries' pilot's last desperate screams are clearly heard.
The CIA pilots are heard expressing doubt, saying, "This guy doesn't fit the profile." They contact Peruvian Air Force on the ground, asking, "Are you sure is bandito? Are you sure?"
"Yes, OK," is the Peruvian response.
"If you're sure," says the CIA operative. Then one of the CIA men whispers to his colleague in his aircraft: "That is bull****. I think we're making a mistake."
"I agree with you," says the other operative.
A minute and a half later the gunships open fire and Donaldson screams in Spanish for the jet to stop.
"They're killing me. They're killing us," Donaldson yells on the tape.
"Tell him to terminate," says one of the CIA operatives to the Peruvian ground contact. "No. Don't Shoot. No more, no mas."
The Peruvian ground contact shouts at the pilot, "Stop! No mas, no mas, Tucan no more."
"God," says one of the CIA pilots.
Veronica Bowers and Charity were killed by gunfire that pierced the Cessna’s fuselage.
Donaldson's legs were mangled by a spray of bullets, but managed to crash-land on a piranha-filled river. Jim Bowers and Cory watched Veronica's body float away as they clung to the wreckage.
Wednesday, the CIA said that its nine-year investigation had determined that 16 CIA employees should be disciplined, including the woman who was in charge of counter-narcotics at the time. In a statement, the agency appeared to blame the shoot-down on the Peruvian Air Force.
"The program to deny drug traffickers an 'air bridge' ended in 2001 and was run by a foreign government," the CIA said in a statement. "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 21, 2001, [sic] CIA personnel protested the identification of the missionary plane as a suspect drug trafficker.
"This was a tragic episode that the Agency has dealt with in a professional and thorough manner. 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."