The United States and Colombia announced Tuesday that surveillance flights will soon resume as part of an effort to stanch the flow of illegal drugs and weapons within the region, the Bush administration announced Tuesday. Traveling aboard an Air Force jet to Bogota, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said the program “was helpful before, it’s helpful now. There are plenty of ways that illegal trade can move, land, sea or air. And if you’re not attending to the air, obviously, it becomes the preferred method.” The United States halted the flights after the accidental downing of a small missionary plane in Peru in April 2001. American missionary Veronica Bowers and her infant daughter, Charity, were killed when their plane was attacked by a Peruvian jet after a CIA-operated surveillance aircraft identified it as a drug flight. Colombia and Peru have pressed the U.S. to resume the interdiction flights, known as the Airbridge Denial Program, to pressure smugglers. Full Story
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