CIA decapitation strategy wiping out rebels leaders in Colombia
The 50-year-old Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), once considered the best-funded insurgency in the world, is at its smallest and most vulnerable state in decades, due in part to a CIA covert-action program that has helped Colombian forces kill at least two dozen rebel leaders, according to interviews with more than 30 former and current U.S. and Colombian officials.This is a good program to defeat one of the longest going insurgencies in history. The typical insurgency last 11 years or so. This has been one that was fueled by selling dope and hiding in jungles like the one in Ecuador, and also in Venezuela. The latter country has been a transit point for the drug distribution organizations since the rise of Chavez.
The secret assistance, which also includes substantial eavesdropping help from the National Security Agency, is funded through a multibillion-dollar black budget. It is not a part of the public $9 billion package of mostly U.S. military aid called Plan Colombia, which began in 2000.
The previously undisclosed CIA program was authorized by President George W. Bush in the early 2000s, and has continued under President Barack Obama, according to U.S. military, intelligence and diplomatic officials. Most of those interviewed spoke on the condition of anonymity because the program is classified and ongoing.
The covert program in Colombia provides two essential services to that country’s battle against FARC and a smaller insurgent group, the National Liberation Army (ELN): Real-time intelligence that allows Colombian forces to hunt down individual FARC leaders and, beginning in 2006, one particularly effective tool with which to kill them.
That weapon is a $30,000 GPS guidance kit that transforms a less-than-accurate 500-pound gravity bomb into a highly accurate smart bomb. Smart bombs, also called precision-guided munitions, or PGMs, are capable of killing an individual in triple-canopy jungle if his exact location can be determined and geocoordinates are programmed into the bomb’s small computer brain.
In March 2008, according to nine U.S. and Colombian officials, the Colombian Air Force, with tacit U.S. approval, launched U.S.-made smart bombs across the border into Ecuador to kill a senior FARC leader, Raul Reyes. The indirect U.S. role in that attack has not been previously disclosed.
The covert-action program in Colombia is one of a handful of enhanced intelligence initiatives that has escaped public notice since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. Most of the other programs, small but growing, operate in countries where violent drug cartels have caused instability.