Tape released on downed Cessna.
August 3, 2001 5:44 AM   Subscribe

Tape released on downed Cessna. I just heard the audio tape from the downing of the Missionary Cessna by the Peruvian jet - it is far worse than I had ever expected. This has to be one of the most disturbing things I have heard on NPR in a while. I wasn't able to find the audio online, but there are excepts in this article. It all boils down to poor communications, and IMO poor training - the US pilots should have known more Spanish, and the Peruvians should have known more English.
posted by hotdoughnutsnow (19 comments total)
What I don't understand is how they can justify shooting down any planes at all. Even if it was a drug-smuggling plane, is it okay to kill the people on board? We don't shoot people who try to smuggle drugs across the US-Mexico border in a van.

It just makes me sick.
posted by daveadams at 6:07 AM on August 3, 2001

I just saw the video of it on foxnews! It was a shot from some CIA plane, satellite, whoknows what - it was from far away, thats all i could tell.

I can't find the video online. Its pretty amazing / shocking footage - seeing a big mean plane following and hunting down a little cesna. kind of disturbing.

no, they didnt show the shooting of the plane, they showed a military plane following the cesna, then cut to the cesna chrashed and smoking in a river. sad.
posted by tomplus2 at 6:08 AM on August 3, 2001

ok, i found it, of course, its on pmsnbc: shootdown video.
posted by tomplus2 at 6:29 AM on August 3, 2001

Also in RealVideo format for those of us who prefer it.
posted by Mo Nickels at 7:02 AM on August 3, 2001

Sick sick sick.
posted by daveadams at 7:03 AM on August 3, 2001

Daveadams -- are you talking about the plane incident, or the fact that someone prefers RealVideo?
posted by Hankins at 7:11 AM on August 3, 2001

the Peruvians should have known more English.

I would have thought the pilot should have been fluent in English. Isn't this a prerequisite of being a pilot (English being the "language of the air")?
posted by Grangousier at 7:11 AM on August 3, 2001

are you talking about the plane incident, or the fact that someone prefers RealVideo?

While Real Networks and its software may itself be sick sick sick, I was referring to the incident.
posted by daveadams at 7:15 AM on August 3, 2001

Yes, English is the required language for air communication. I hate to sounds Anglocentric, but if you are working in air communications or piloting, you are required to know English.
posted by the bob at 7:17 AM on August 3, 2001

Well, it would seem to be logical if you're assigning people to air surveillance over Peru to assign people who speak Spanish, as well as English. But we are talking about the CIA, aren't we?
posted by witchstone at 8:15 AM on August 3, 2001

For those of you that didn't hear the audio, it has the CIA pilots repeating over and over that they don't think the plane was smuggling. And the Peruvians being extremely trigger happy.

Having said that, even though the CIA guys were saying over and over that they had doubts about shooting the plane, they never said anything like "Do NOT shoot the plane, It's NOT smuggling!!!!"

But it's clear they did think innocent people were about to die. Complete cluster fuck. And I didn't get the impression that the language barrier was that much of a factor. The Peruvians *really* wanted to shoot the plane, and the CIA didn't want to get in their way.
posted by y6y6y6 at 8:37 AM on August 3, 2001

It's all quite simple, really - the U.S. supports the downing of drug-carrying planes all over the Western Hemisphere, in a demented funhouse-mirror reflection of the Monroe Doctrine, as part of our Valiant and Glorious Crusade to Think Of The Children and rid our streets of the Psychoactive Chemicals of the Dark Lord Satan.

Either that, or for some reason we want to use military force to prop up the street price of cocaine. From the view from the ground, it's hard to tell.

Kudos to the CIA agents in attempting to keep this tragedy from happening, but the raw fact is the trigger-happy Peruvians wouldn't have even been in a position to shoot the Cessna down if the CIA wasn't there in the first place.
posted by Vetinari at 8:43 AM on August 3, 2001

Here's the (real audio) NPR report from this morning
posted by donnagirl at 9:56 AM on August 3, 2001

"It all boils down to poor communications, and IMO poor training"

No it doesn't. It all boils down to the fact that the interdiction strategy and the entire war on drugs is one of the most miserable failures of our time.

Vetinari, the street price of cocaine hasn't risen since 1980.
posted by keithl at 10:29 AM on August 3, 2001

It's not a language issue, either, really -- it's a rules-of-engagement issue (a morally wrong set of rules), and a cockpit-resource-management issue, and a too-many-chiefs issue, and a dotted-line-to-another-supervisor issue, and ... hell, it's a classic fuckup.
posted by dhartung at 11:22 AM on August 3, 2001

keithl, noted, but the street price of all illegal drugs would come crashing down if not for the legal and physical danger of transporting it from the producer to the consumer (admittedly quite minor in many instances).

apologies for the semi-hijack, we now return you to your regularly scheduled thread.
posted by Vetinari at 12:35 PM on August 3, 2001

From what I understand the price of cocaine has come crashing down since the 70's. The reason the americans were not in the chain of command (I know this is Peru but let's be realistic) was to avoid liabilility in case something like this happened. I believe that shooting down cilivian plans in peacetime is not just wrong but also blatantly illegal. However, drug smugglers don't have much of a lobby in Washington. For that matter neither do missionaries.
posted by rdr at 8:24 PM on August 3, 2001

Call me crazy, but...isn't flying a tiny little plane into the heart of Peru (known for bloody terrorist acts, military fly-overs, drug wars) with your infant child a trifle...well, irresponsible? I know this strays from the CIA-bashing & "drug war = complete failure" tone of this thread, but seriously...if these "missionaries" felt it necessary to provide charity to those less fortunate, wouldn't it just have been *safer*, plain & simple, to do so within our borders, or at least our portion of the Americas? At the risk of sounding churlish, think about what bartender Moe said about the Iranian hostages: "Aw, they shouldn't have been over there in the first place."

Having said that - make no mistake, this was tragic no matter how you slice it.
posted by davidmsc at 10:31 PM on August 3, 2001

davidmsc: What? I think you're thinking of Columbia not Peru. Peru has some indigineous terrorist groups but I don't think any use jet fighters to shoot planes out of the air. Also the child was adopted and I think she was Peruvian. What I don't get is your logic. What you seem to be saying is that anybody outside of North America is fair game for having the C.I.A. and their minions shoot them out of the air. Also, you're not safe from military yahoos killing you in the states.
posted by rdr at 12:21 AM on August 4, 2001

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