CIA Accused of Cover Up in U.S. Civilian Deaths

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The Central Intelligence Agency has cleared up the mystery surrounding the death of an American missionary and her infant daughter who were shot out of the sky over Peru nine years ago.

When two CIA pilots spotted a Cessna flying along the border of Peru and Brazil nine years ago, the agents thought the plane's cargo was drugs.

However, instead of narcotics, the plane was carrying missionaries from Michigan -- Jim and Veronica Bowers and their two children, six-year-old Cory and seven-month-old Charity.

As ABC News reported, agents tailed the plane for an hour and 49 minutes, breaking the rules of engagement time and time again, including failing to check the plane's tail number.

"We can go up and attempt the tail number. But if he is dirty, and he detects us, he makes a right turn immediately and we can't chase him," a CIA pilot said.

Peruvian Air Force gun ships arrived on the scene and issued a warning -- "We will shoot you down."

However, the warning was relayed over the wrong radio frequency and the missionary's pilot never heard it. The CIA pilots started having their doubts. But they never asked the Peruvian gunship to stand down.

"I think we are making a mistake," the CIA pilot said to his co-pilot. "I agree with you," his co-pilot replied.

When the ship opened fire, the Bowers' pilot screamed for them to stop.

The plane went down in the Amazon River. Jim and Cory survived, but Veronica and Charity were dead from gunfire before the plane ever hit the water.

Now some members of Congress are accusing the CIA of covering up and lying about the negligence that led to the killing of innocent Americans.

"If there is ever an example of justice delayed, justice denied, this is it," said Rep. Peter Hoekstra, R-Mich.

After burying his wife and baby girl, Bowers told reporters he had forgiven the killers just as his wife would have.

One of the agents involved in the operation told ABC News his punishment was a letter of reprimand in his file that will be removed after one year.

The CIA insists there was no cover up.

*Originally published February 4, 2010.

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John Jessup

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