Report claims CIA program has helped kill two dozen Colombian rebel leaders

A CIA covert action program bolstered by eavesdropping from the National Security Agency has helped Colombian forces kill more at least two dozen leaders of rebel groups in the South American country over the past decade-plus, according to a Washington Post report.

The program consists of human intelligence and a GPS guidance kit that is used to aid bombs in targeting specific leaders. According to the Post report, which cited interviews with over 30 current and former U.S. and Colombian officials, the U.S. began providing the Colombian army with the GPS kits in 2006.

The program exists separately from the $9 billion aid package begun in 2000. It also makes heavy use of NSA monitoring to intercept communications and target the leaders of the left-wing Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) and the National Liberation Army (ELN).

Since 2007, the Post reports, the U.S. has used 500-pound smart bombs specially fitted for Colombia aircraft to target FARC and ELN leaders. The bombs use special encryption keys that unscramble communications from GPS satellites to hit their targets, which are controlled by the CIA so the Colombia armed forces do not misuse the weapons to target political opponents.

According to the paper, the campaign has helped reduce the manpower of the FARC to its lowest level in 20 years, due less to the killings of top leaders than desertions and low recruitment caused by the bombing campaign's disruption of operations. FARC declared a unilateral 30-day ceasefire on December 15 and has been undertaking peace negotiations with the Colombian government for over a year in Havana, Cuba.

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