Peru (MNN) — Nine years after the
Peruvian air force mistook a missionary flight for a drug run, the Central Intelligence
Agency took responsibility for its part in the shoot-down of a plane which
killed a missionary, Veronica Bowers, and her infant daughter, Charity.
The Bowers had taken a flight to
pick up a visa in Brazil for Charity. Their
son, Cory, then six, was also in the plane when the military jet opened fire on
them in April 2001.
Jim Bowers, their son, Cory, and
the pilot, Kevin Donaldson, survived the plane's crash into the Amazon.
The release of the current report
shows that C.I.A. officers misidentified the missionary plane as a
drug-smuggling aircraft and ordered the Peruvian military to shoot it down. Then, the investigation shows routine
procedure violations by those involved with the secret counter-narcotics
mission and a pattern of covering up their mistakes, ultimately misleading
Congress during an inquiry shortly after the incident.
As a result, the U.S. government suspended
the practice of advising foreign governments on shooting down planes over Peru
and Colombia. They then discontinued the program.
The U.S. government paid compensation of $8 million to the Bowers family and the
CIA Director Leon Panetta said 16
current and retired agency officers received administrative punishments over
Jim and Roni Bowers began serving in Peru in 1995 as
houseboat missionaries with the Association of Baptists for World Evangelism,
Their job was to creatively spread the gospel to 50 remote
Peruvian villages accessible only via the Amazon River. For six years, they traveled in their
floating home to towns along a 150-mile stretch of water: evangelizing,
preaching, teaching and discipling. The Bowers held leadership training classes and
seminars to equip local believers.
The work was
disrupted, but ABWE is still active in Church planting, theological
education, camp work, river evangelism, and aviation. A team of 15 is
active throughout the rural and urban parts of Peru.
Meanwhile, Jim Bowers is
rebuilding his life. Several years later, he authorized a book
about the incident and remarried in December 2003. The new Bowers family lives
in Raleigh, N.C., where they're planting a Hispanic church.