REPORT ON THE GUATEMALA REVIEW
JUNE 28, 1996
INTELLIGENCE OVERSIGHT BOARD
Anthony S. Harrington, Chairman
General Lew Allen, Jr., USAF (Ret.)
Ann Z. Caracristi
Harold W. Pote
TABLE OF CONTENTS
CONCLUSIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS
THE CONTEXT: US RELATIONS WITH GUATEMALA
US INTELLIGENCE OBJECTIVES AND PROGRAMS IN GUATEMALA
Intelligence objectives and activities
ASSET INVOLVEMENT IN HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATIONS
DO guidance on human rights
Allegations of human rights abuse by assets
ASSET VALIDATION SYSTEM
NOTIFICATION TO POLICY-MAKERS OF ABUSES BY ASSETS
Conclusions concerning CIA Congressional notification
Failure to notify Congress on receipt of the Alpirez allegation
Semi-annual CIA human rights reports to Congress
1992 Briefings to oversight committee staff on human rights in Guatemala
DOD Congressional notification
CRIMES REPORT TO DOJ
HUMAN RIGHTS REPORTING
Priority and performance in reporting
Perceived loss of objectivity
Source characterization and protection
Dissemination and retrieval of intelligence reports
ALLEGED NSA RECORDS DESTRUCTION
VICTIMS OF VIOLENCE IN GUATEMALA REVIEWED BY THE IOB
Efrain Bamaca Velasquez
Sister Dianna Ortiz
Nicholas Blake and Griffith Davis
Janey Skinner and Jennifer Roitman
Melissa Larsen and June Weinstock
INTELLIGENCE BEARING ON THE MURDER OF MICHAEL DEVINE
INTELLIGENCE BEARING ON THE FATE OF EFRAIN BAMACA
On March 30, 1995, the President directed the Intelligence Oversight Board (IOB) to conduct a government-wide review concerning allegations regarding the l990 death of US citizen Michael DeVine, the 1992 disappearance of Guatemalan guerrilla leader Efrain Bamaca Velasquez, and related matters. Under terms of reference issued on April 7, 1995, the scope of this inquiry covers any existing intelligence bearing on the torture, disappearance, or death of US citizens in Guatemala since 1984, including the cases of Dianna Ortiz, Griffith Davis and Nicholas Blake. Other cases that have come to our attention and have been included in our review are those involving Peter Wolfe, Janey Skinner, Jennifer Roitman, Meredith Larson, June Weinstock, and Daniel Callahan. Because an investigation of the Dianna Ortiz case by the Department of Justice is still underway, our comments on that case will be limited at this time to our review of relevant intelligence reports. The terms of reference also include the US intelligence relationship with Guatemala, the coordination of intelligence and policy, and the asset validation process.
The IOB’s charter is to review and report to the President on intelligence activities that we believe may be unlawful or contrary to Executive order or Presidential directive. The Board has previously conducted its investigations and provided reports in a confidential manner. The Guatemala review is unprecedented as a publicly announced inquiry.
The Board received reports on the matters under review from the Inspectors General of the Departments of State and Justice and the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), and from the Inspector General and General Counsel of the Department of Defense. These reports covered those agencies and their subordinate agencies, such as the National Security Agency (NSA), the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA), the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). Over the course of the review, the IOB has received excellent cooperation from the inspectors general and their departments and agencies, as well as from innumerable others both in and out of the government, and has benefited greatly from the extensive follow-up investigations conducted by the Department of Justice on certain matters. The IOB believes that the investigations conducted by the inspectors general in this review process demonstrate the important, though often unpopular, roles they play.
The IOB also conducted its own inquiry in evaluating relevant facts and circumstances in order to reach its own conclusions. In this inquiry, IOB members and staff interviewed scores of witnesses in the United States and Guatemala and examined many thousands of documents. The Board also requested a CIA IG review of all clandestine assets in Guatemala since 1984 for allegations of human rights abuse.
The Board would like to note that agencies have already taken several remedial actions as a result of investigations conducted by the agency inspectors general, the IOB, and the Congress.
In this report, we provide an executive summary and our conclusions and recommendations, and we address the following subjects: the context of US relations with Guatemala, US intelligence objectives in Guatemala, asset involvement in human rights violations, the asset validation system, intelligence agencies’ interaction with the policy community, Congressional oversight, a crimes report to the Department of Justice, human rights reporting, and intelligence bearing on the cases of victims of violence in Guatemala reviewed by the IOB.
This public version of the report is essentially the same as the classified version submitted to the President. This report omits, for example, some highly sensitive information, such as the identities of those who came forward with information –individuals whose lives could be endangered if they were identified.
US policy objectives in Guatemala from l984 to the present–the period we reviewed–included supporting the transition to and strengthening of civilian democratic government, furthering human rights and the rule of law, supporting economic growth, combating illegal narcotics trafficking, combating the communist insurgency, and advancing the current peace process between the government and the guerrillas.
US intelligence officials in Guatemala as well as in Washington endeavored to support all of these policy objectives. For the CIA, the principal means to accomplish this consisted of working closely with Guatemala’s security and intelligence services and developing human sources of intelligence–known as assets. These assets provided intelligence that assisted officials at the embassy and in Washington in achieving US policy objectives. The CIA station’s liaison relationships with the security services also benefited US interests by engendering cooperation in such areas as countering attempts to overthrow Guatemala’s constitutional government, providing protection to US citizens at risk in Guatemala and reversing a dramatic early 1990’s increase in narcotics transshipment through Guatemala.
Although the CIA’s goals in Guatemala were legitimate, achieving them and maintaining influence in Guatemala required that the CIA deal with some unsavory groups and individuals. The human rights records of the Guatemalan security services were widely known to be reprehensible, and although the CIA made efforts to improve the conduct of the services, probably with some limited success, egregious human rights abuses did not stop.
Our clandestine intelligence capability will clearly remain essential to our national security. However, although the conduct of clandestine intelligence collection at times requires dealing with unsavory individuals and organizations, the value of what we hope to gain in terms of our national interests must outweigh the costs of such unseemly relationships and be worth the risks always inherent in clandestine activity.
The CIA’s successes in Guatemala in conjunction with other US agencies, particularly in uncovering and working to counter coups and in reducing the narcotics flow, were at times dramatic and very much in the national interests of both the United States and Guatemala. We found, however, two areas in which the CIA’s performance was unacceptable. First, until late 1994, insufficient attention was given to allegations of serious human rights abuse made against several station assets or liaison contacts. Second, the CIA failed to provide enough information on this subject to policy-makers and the Congress to permit proper policy and Congressional oversight. Other US intelligence agencies also made valuable contributions to US interests and policy in Guatemala, but fell short in some areas as noted in our report; we did not find, however, that the impact of their deficiencies was of the same magnitude as that of the CIA.
Human rights abuses by assets or liaison contacts
In the course of our review, we found that several CIA assets were credibly alleged to have ordered, planned, or participated in serious human rights violations such as assassination, extrajudicial execution, torture, or kidnapping while they were assets–and that the CIA’s Directorate of Operations (DO) headquarters was aware at the time of the allegations. A number of assets were alleged–with varying levels of credibility–to have been involved in similar abuses before their CIA asset relationships began; in several other cases, the alleged abuses occurred or came to light only after the CIA was no longer in contact with the assets. A few assets were reportedly present as others engaged in acts of intimidation, and another engaged in such an act before becoming an asset. A further asset was the subject of an unspecific allegation of human rights abuse. Several of the above assets were also involved in covering up human rights abuses, as was an additional asset. In addition, a number of the station’s liaison contacts–Guatemalan officials with whom the station worked in an official capacity–were also alleged to have been involved in human rights abuses or in covering them up. In many of the cases noted above, however, we learned of the allegations only by virtue of relationships with other assets or liaison contacts alleged to have engaged in similar abuses.
None of the assets alleged to have committed serious human rights abuses now have asset relationships with the CIA. Relationships with all but a few such assets had been terminated prior to September 1994 for a variety of reasons. Only one of the terminations of relationship was principally the result of a human rights allegation. In September 1994, because of a human rights issue unrelated to Guatemala, the DO’s Latin America Division conducted a review of its then-current assets throughout Latin America to determine if any may have violated human rights. As a result of this review, the CIA in early 1995 terminated relationships with the few remaining Guatemalan assets alleged to have been involved in serious abuses such as assassination and kidnapping.
As noted earlier, the IOB believes that US national interests, with respect to Guatemala and elsewhere, can in some cases justify relationships with assets and institutions with sordid or even criminal backgrounds. We believe that a careful balance must be struck on a case-by-case basis between the value and uniqueness of contributions from the relationship, on the one hand, and the seriousness and credibility of the allegations of abuse, on the other. We note that in carrying out law enforcement activities in the United States, the FBI, police, and other authorities regularly weigh such considerations in establishing informant relationships with persons having criminal backgrounds. Among the potential costs to be considered, however, in continuing or establishing such relationships with foreign intelligence assets are: the moral implications, the damage to US objectives in promoting greater respect for human rights, the loss of confidence in the intelligence community by the Congress and the American people, and the effect of such relationships upon the ethical climate within US intelligence agencies. In February 1996, largely as a result of the inquiries related to Guatemala, the CIA issued guidance for dealing with serious human rights violations or crimes of violence by assets and liaison services. We believe that this guidance strikes an appropriate balance: it generally bars such relationships, but it permits senior CIA officials to authorize them in special cases when national security interests so warrant. We are disturbed, however, that until the recent Guatemala inquiries, the CIA had failed to establish agency-wide written guidance on such an important issue.
We found no evidence that Guatemala station was a “rogue” station operating independently of control by its headquarters; it generally kept the DO headquarters well-informed of developments, negative or otherwise, including allegations implicating CIA assets as each allegation surfaced. DO headquarters officials, generally on an ad hoc basis, provided guidance to Guatemala station in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s advising it to avoid assets against whom human rights violations had been alleged, but the number of such assets retained or recruited without any evident deliberation suggests that this guidance was neither strictly enforced by headquarters nor observed by the station. DO managers rarely focused on specific allegations and did not systematically review assets in Guatemala for allegations of human rights abuse until the September 1994 review. Moreover, the balancing of allegations against contributions, on those occasions it was done, was conducted exclusively by division-level managers and chiefs of station, whose performance and rewards systems were principally based on establishing and maintaining relationships with productive assets and who had little incentive to give great weight to allegations of abuse.
The asset validation system, through which the CIA should have periodically reexamined its relationship with each asset, did not address human rights allegations against the assets in question. This validation system, even if it had been functioning as intended, would not have highlighted human rights issues because it had been designed to focus almost exclusively upon assets’ vulnerability to counterintelligence and upon dropping non-producing assets from the payroll. The CIA has recently modified its asset validation system to take into account all derogatory information on assets, including allegations of human rights abuse.
Out of a general concern for the protection of its sources, out of neglect, or for other reasons, the CIA informed neither State Department officials, at the embassy or in Washington, nor National Security Council officials of alleged abuses by assets until late l994 and early 1995. Because significant activities and relationships–such as those involving assets implicated in assassination, kidnapping, or torture–raised broad policy considerations, policy officials outside the CIA (such as representatives of the National Security Council and the Departments of State and, when appropriate, Justice) should have been notified promptly.
During the period we reviewed, the DO, from its leadership down to its case officers, interpreted a 1977 CIA agreement with the Department of State to obligate the CIA to reveal to ambassadors the identities of only those assets with whom senior embassy officers were in high-level official contact. The IOB recommends that the State-CIA agreement be amended to say explicitly that ambassadors must be informed of all intelligence activities that have significant policy implications, including reasonably credible allegations of asset involvement in the deaths of US citizens or other serious human rights violations. If there is concern over an ambassador’s handling of such intelligence information, the CIA should convey the information directly to appropriate senior level officials at the Department of State.
The Board believes, however, that the system for collecting and disseminating intelligence information can function properly only if US executive and legislative branch officials are held accountable should they compromise or improperly handle classified information. A lack of accountability puts sources of intelligence at risk. The effect is to discourage the proper provision of information by intelligence agencies to intelligence consumers and the oversight community, and ultimately to jeopardize the ability of the United States to recruit sources and to collect intelligence in the furtherance of its national interests around the world. Ample avenues exist by which well-intentioned officials can raise grievances concerning intelligence activities–either through the executive branch to the National Security Advisor or the President, or through the Congressional oversight committees to the Congressional leadership–without publicly revealing sensitive intelligence information.
During this review and others, we have observed a general atmosphere of distrust between the State Department and the CIA. We recognize that tension between these entities is to a certain extent inevitable, given that their different institutional missions will occasionally come into conflict. We believe, however, that some of the distrust could be alleviated. We recommend, therefore, that the State Department, at an appropriately senior level, ensure that ambassadors devote sufficient time and attention to receiving detailed initial training and follow-up briefings on intelligence activities in their countries of posting. The CIA, for its part, must ensure that these briefings cover all activities and relationships of policy significance.
The IOB concluded that the CIA leadership violated its statutory obligation to keep the Congressional oversight committees “fully and currently informed” under Section 413 of Title 50 of the U.S. Code. Though this statute is not criminal and the standard is too broad to be fulfilled to the letter, CIA officers–particularly senior leaders at CIA headquarters–were derelict in failing to provide information that should have been provided under even the narrowest reading of the statute. In examining specific instances in which information was not provided to Congress, the IOB considered conflicting evidence and judged that CIA officials did not act with intent to mislead Congress–though they did intentionally withhold some information, in substantial part because of concern for the protection of sources.
We found the primary causes for this failure in Congressional notification to have been the absence of a systematic notification process and inadequate emphasis from the CIA’s leadership. The ad hoc manner in which notifications were handled, combined with the DO’s predisposition against volunteering sensitive information, even to authorized recipients, created an environment that bred notification failures. For this we fault the CIA and DO leadership back to the 1980 enactment of the oversight statute. Although we found no failures as significant as those by the CIA, we found that Department of Defense intelligence agencies also lacked a systematic process for Congressional notification during the period we reviewed. The CIA, DIA, and NSA recently instituted processes designed to implement and document Congressional notification more systematically.
The IOB found that in the CIA’s semi-annual reports to Congress on its efforts to improve respect for human rights in Guatemala, the CIA created a misleading impression of the status of human rights by focusing on positive contributions without mentioning ongoing abuses by the services with which the station had a liaison relationship. The IOB believes that despite the narrow language of the reporting requirement, CIA managers at headquarters should have recognized this effect and ensured that Congress received, whether through the reports or other means, an accurate portrayal of the human rights situation in Guatemala.
In reviewing all of the facts surrounding the CIA’s failures in notifying Congress, the IOB did not find sufficient basis for a criminal referral to the Attorney General. The Department of Justice did examine the issue of the CIA’s notifications to Congress at the request of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence (SSCI), but it found that the facts posited by the SSCI did not constitute a sufficient basis upon which to premise a criminal prosecution. Pursuant to Executive Order 12863, which governs the IOB, the Board has notified DOJ of its belief that in the past the CIA violated Title 50 of the U.S. Code by failing to keep Congress “fully and currently informed.” The Board notes, though, that this likely violation was not criminal, that the CIA has taken remedial action, and that there appears to be no threat of a continuing violation.
CIA funding levels
There have been public allegations that CIA funds were increased to compensate for the cut-off of almost all overt military aid to Guatemala in 1990. We did not find this to have been the case. CIA funding levels to the security services dropped consistently from about $3.5 million in FY 1989 to about $1 million in 1995.
Human rights reporting
The station was aware of US policy-makers’ interest in learning of human rights violations and it disseminated intelligence reports on the topic. Although these reports were of varying utility and reliability, some were instrumental–becoming the bases for diplomatic protests to the Guatemalan government and contributing to the decision to suspend overt military assistance in 1990. A concern for how negative allegations against the Guatemalan security services would be received, however, appears in a few instances to have affected how these allegations were reported. Although intelligence reports with clearly credible allegations seem generally to have been disseminated appropriately, those of questionable credibility that were favorable to the liaison services appear to have been disseminated beyond the DO more often than similarly dubious unfavorable ones.
The Board found that the widely publicized allegation based on a CIA intelligence report that US citizen Michael DeVine was killed in the presence of Guatemalan Colonel Alpirez was, by the clear preponderance of evidence, not true. We believe that the most likely scenario is that the soldiers currently imprisoned for the crime killed DeVine while interrogating him about a missing army rifle. We believe that their superiors ordered them to recover the rifle, but we found no persuasive evidence that the orders included killing Michael DeVine. Colonel Alpirez was, however, involved in the broad cover-up of Guatemalan army involvement–a cover-up that we believe involved several CIA assets and liaison contacts. We have found no indication that CIA officials were in any way complicitous in the death of DeVine, and no credible evidence that any CIA assets or liaison contacts ordered or had prior knowledge of DeVine’s death.
The CIA in November 1991 referred the October 1991 allegation of Colonel Alpirez’s involvement in DeVine s death to the Department of Justice (DOJ). Although the CIA initially conveyed this crimes report in a manner designed to set it apart from routine reports, the report apparently was treated as routine by DOJ, which investigated the allegation, but did not uncover all of the relevant background information. DOJ did not find US jurisdiction under the anti-terrorism statute, but never formally closed the case. We found the performance of both the CIA and DOJ in connection with this referral to have been less thorough than warranted. DOJ, however, recently conducted an exhaustive reinvestigation of the DeVine case in light of all the information now available to the US government, and again found no adequate basis for US jurisdiction. DOJ has since implemented new internal procedures in an effort to ensure that such criminal referrals are handled in a more systematic manner. DOJ has also recently entered into a new agreement with the agencies involved in intelligence that is designed to strengthen the crimes reporting process.
Another widely publicized allegation based on a CIA intelligence report–that Colonel Alpirez killed guerrilla leader Efrain Bamaca Velasquez–is contradicted by numerous other intelligence reports and accounts. We conclude, however, that Alpirez participated in at least part of Bamaca’s interrogation. We believe, but lack definitive proof, that Bamaca’s interrogation included torture and that Bamaca was killed within about a year of being captured. It has not been possible for us to conclude whether Bamaca was killed at the San Marcos base near where he was captured or elsewhere, such as in Guatemala City. We found that no CIA officials were involved in or were contemporaneously aware of the torture or death of Bamaca. Some then-active assets or liaison contacts were, however, alleged in various, often-contradictory accounts to have been involved in or to have known of Bamaca’s interrogation and death. Although the Board believes that assets or liaison contacts were likely involved or knowledgeable, it found no indication that the CIA was aware of these links during the course of its relationships with these individuals.
Concerning the death, abduction, or torture of other US citizens in Guatemala since 1984, the Board found no evidence that CIA assets or liaison contacts were implicated. We also found that–contrary to what may be publicly supposed–intelligence provides little insight into the circumstances of these cases. Our intelligence agencies are not all-knowing. What intelligence we did find is described in this report and, to the maximum extent appropriate, is being provided to the victims or their relatives. We may never know definitively what happened in the cases we reviewed. In one particular case, Dianna Ortiz has described someone she believes to be North American who rescued her from her torturers and appeared to have some authority over them. Ortiz says the person warned her to tell no one about the incident and told her that he was taking her to a friend at the US embassy, raising the possibility that he had some association with the US government. The Ortiz case is still under investigation by the Department of Justice; the IOB will accordingly refrain from drawing conclusions on the case at this time. We found no indication of involvement by CIA or other US officials in any of the harm that befell the other US citizens.
Informing families and victims
As intelligence on the cases was reported to US government officials, very little of it was shared with victims or their surviving family members. The IOB believes, however, that in such cases the United States should provide its citizens more information whenever possible. The Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) establishes the only legal requirement to provide such information, yet that process is often an unsatisfactory way through which to communicate the information to the families and victims. The redactions necessary to protect sensitive information in documents released under FOIA naturally give the reader the impression-usually mistaken–that relevant information is being withheld. Further, the reader is usually given no indication as to the reliability of the information. Victims and family members who seek intelligence information outside the FOIA process, however, usually find that it is not within the authority of policy agencies, such as the State Department, to share intelligence originating in another agency, and that it is not within the intelligence agencies’ charter to communicate directly with victims and families. We believe the State Department should demonstrate more initiative in seeking authorization from intelligence producers to share their intelligence in briefings (oral or written) to family members and victims. The briefings need not identify that the information came from intelligence, but they should attempt to convey some indication of its reliability.
Among the cases of victims in Guatemala we reviewed, in only the DeVine and Bamaca cases were there numerous intelligence reports–though they were often conflicting and inconclusive–that shed light on what happened. In the DeVine case, we believe the State Department should have given greater consideration to sharing intelligence-based information with Carole DeVine. In the Bamaca case, as the State Department went to great lengths in pressing the Guatemalan government on the issue, it used intelligence-based information in the process and in briefing Jennifer Harbury. We found no indication, however, of any request by the State Department for a search of past intelligence on the case until October 1994. If it had done so in early 1993, when Jennifer Harbury first raised the issue of her husband’s fate, the Department might have been able at a much earlier date to provide her with useful information about her husband’s fate–that is, a report that he had been taken alive.
We also found that the NSA conducted an inadequate search in response to the Blake family’s FOIA request for all documents related to the 1985 death of Nicholas Blake in Guatemala. NSA’s initial response indicated that there were no relevant documents, but it had not searched the database that contains its own reporting. After an appeal, NSA conducted a search of this database and responded that it had uncovered six relevant documents. The broader search used in connection with our review identified an additional sixteen documents that were equally relevant, though none of them revealed who killed Nicholas Blake or whether the army was involved. NSA has since notified the Blake family of the existence of these additional documents. NSA similarly found only one out of five documents that were covered by the FOIA request from Meredith Larson, another victim of Guatemalan violence. None of these documents, however, provided greater insight to the circumstances and perpetrators of the stabbing attack against her.
NSA has recently made efforts to make its FOIA searches more responsive, but it faces a special challenge in releasing information because anything it releases will be known to have come from signals intelligence. For agencies whose intelligence comes from human sources, released intelligence could come from a variety of persons who may have had first-, second-, or third-hand access to the information. We recommend that appropriate NSC staff study this problem in an effort to devise a system through which NSA can release useful information without jeopardizing its sensitive methods (perhaps, if necessary, by amending the FOIA to permit the consolidation of DOD or intelligence community responses so that information is not identified as having come from a particular agency).
Alleged NSA records destruction
We found no evidence to support the late March 1995 allegation that NSA and Army officials altered records on Guatemala to prevent scrutiny in any investigation, and we believe that there is no foundation to this charge. The allegation, communicated to a member of Congress in an anonymous letter telecopied to his office and also communicated to the press, appears to have been fabricated. Detailed analysis of the relevant databases indicates that no records on Guatemala were deleted or destroyed. Moreover, the officials identified in the anonymous letter, Lieutenant General Paul E. Menoher, Jr., the Army’s Deputy Chief of Staff for Intelligence, and Colonel Daniel D. Day, an Army officer assigned to NSA, either did not have or did not utilize the access necessary to make the alleged alterations. Finally, the anonymous letter, which purported to be on NSA letterhead, does not match any letterhead used by NSA in at least the last twenty years. An investigating US Attorney also found no basis for the allegation.
Document storage and retrieval
The State Department and CIA Inspectors General, respectively, found shortcomings in the document storage and retrieval systems of the State Department’s Bureau of Intelligence and Research (INR) and the CIA’s Directorate of Operations. In the case of the State Department, retrieval shortcomings complicated its own IG’s investigation. Within the DO, retrieval shortcomings contributed directly to DO headquarters’ failure to recognize that an asset whose recruitment it approved was alleged to have planned an assassination. The DO has been improving its retrieval system and has corrected the specific deficiency that led to this failure. The IOB recommends that the DO continue its ongoing modernization and that the State Department promptly correct its own deficiencies in this area.
CONCLUSIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS
l. Intelligence activities
The intelligence community carried out activities in support of US policy objectives. These objectives included supporting the transition to and strengthening of civilian democratic government in Guatemala, encouraging respect for human rights, combating illegal narcotics trafficking, fighting the communist insurgency, and, in recent years, advancing the peace process.
For its part, CIA established a liaison relationship with Guatemalan security services widely known to have reprehensible human rights records, and it continued covert aid after the cutoff of overt military aid in 1990. This liaison relationship and continued covert aid occurred with the knowledge of the National Security Council, the State Department, and the Congressional oversight committees.
Contrary to public allegations, CIA did not increase covert funding for Guatemala to compensate for the cut-off of military aid in 1990.
2. Relationships with assets who may have violated human rights
Credible allegations of serious human rights abuse were made against several then-active CIA assets. In addition, allegations of varying seriousness, specificity, and credibility were made against persons who later became assets, as well as against a number of CIA liaison contacts.
US intelligence agencies should, while maintaining the ability to use key assets with such histories when national interests warrant, establish clear guidance on the recruitment and retention of assets with human rights or criminal allegations.
Guidance has been recently issued for dealing with serious human rights violations or crimes of violence by assets and liaison services. We believe this guidance strikes an appropriate balance by generally barring such relationships but permitting appropriately senior officials to authorize them in special cases when national security interests warrant.
3. Notification of ambassadors and other policy-makers
CIA did not inform ambassadors and other policy-makers before late l994 of allegations of human rights abuse by Guatemalan assets as such claims came to light.
The Department of State and CIA should amend the State-CIA agreement to ensure that ambassadors and other policy-makers are informed of station activities and asset and liaison relationships that have significant policy implications. Notification of such activities and relationships should, at a minimum, include reasonably credible allegations of asset or liaison involvement in assassination, kidnapping, or torture, and particularly any involvement in the death or abuse of a US citizen.
CIA should provide ambassadors detailed initial and continuing briefings on intelligence activities in their countries. The Department of State, at a level of sufficient authority, should ensure that ambassadors attend such briefings and that they receive continuing instruction on the importance of protecting intelligence sources and methods.
In October 1995, CIA disseminated a guidance cable in an effort to clarify the State-CIA agreement of 1977. We believe, however, that a more durable and effective solution would be to amend the agreement itself.
4. Provision of information to families and survivors
Although none of the intelligence we reviewed conclusively identified the perpetrators in any of the cases involving American victims, the State Department should have sought authorization from intelligence agencies to include in its briefings to family members or surviving victims more information drawn from intelligence reports.
NSA’s inadequate responses to FOIA requests by the Blake family and Meredith Larson were the result of data searches that were overly narrow and the lack of a system that would allow NSA to provide more information without compromising its sources and methods.
The Department of State should implement a program to ensure that its bureaus consider including appropriate intelligence-based information in briefings to US citizens (or US relatives of those) who are killed, abducted, or tortured abroad-perhaps without identifying the information as being intelligence-based. The bureaus should work with intelligence agencies to ensure that sources and methods are not compromised in this process.
NSA, with assistance from DOD and the NSC, should explore how to develop a system by which information from signals intelligence can usefully be shared without compromising NSA’s sensitive methods. This could perhaps be achieved by amending the FOIA to permit the consolidation of DOD or intelligence community responses so that NSA information can be released without being identified as signals intelligence.
An interagency group is now studying ways to improve the provision of information to US citizens in human rights cases.
The current leadership at NSA has recently improved the agency’s responsiveness to FOIA requests by substantially reducing their processing time and by attempting to release more useful information in such responses.
5. Accountability for those who compromise intelligence information
The system for collecting and disseminating intelligence information can function properly only if US executive and legislative branch officials are held accountable should they compromise or improperly handle classified information. A lack of accountability puts sources of intelligence at risk. The effect is to discourage the proper provision of information by intelligence agencies to intelligence consumers and the oversight community, and ultimately to jeopardize the ability of the United States to recruit sources and to collect intelligence in the furtherance of its national interests around the world. Ample avenues exist by which well-intentioned officials can raise grievances concerning intelligence activities–either through the executive branch to the National Security Advisor or the President, or through the Congressional oversight committees to the Congressional leadership–without publicly revealing sensitive intelligence information.
The executive and legislative branches should hold accountable any officials known to have compromised or improperly handled classified information.
6. Involvement by US officials
Dianna Ortiz has described a man who she believes to be North American who she said rescued her from her torture but warned her to tell no one about it and told her that he was taking her to a friend at the US embassy. This raises the possibility that the man had some association with the US government. The Ortiz case is still under investigation by the Department of Justice; the IOB will accordingly refrain from drawing conclusions on the case at this time. Subject to resolution of the Ortiz investigation, we uncovered no indication that US government officials were involved in or had prior knowledge of the death, torture, or disappearance of US or Guatemalan citizens.
7. Headquarters knowledge of station activities
We found no evidence that Guatemala station was a “rogue” station operating independently of control by its headquarters. Rather, the station generally kept CIA’s Directorate of Operations (DO) headquarters well-informed of all developments, negative or otherwise, including allegations against assets as they surfaced.
8. Congressional notification
Congress was not appropriately “fully and currently” informed by the CIA, particularly concerning the death of Michael DeVine. Though the evidence is conflicting, we do not believe that CIA officials acted with an intent to mislead Congress. Rather, the primary reasons for this failure to inform were the absence of a systematic notification process and inadequate emphasis upon reporting issues by CIA management.
CIA’s semi-annual human rights reports to Congress were incomplete and created a misleading impression. CIA managers at headquarters should have recognized this effect and ensured that Congress received an accurate portrayal of the human rights situation in Guatemala.
Although we found no failures in Congressional notification by Department of Defense intelligence agencies as significant as those by CIA, we did find that during the period we reviewed, DOD agencies also lacked a systematic notification process.
CIA and DOD should both implement a systematic process by which timely decisions on Congressional notification of intelligence issues are made, carried out, and recorded.
CIA, DIA, and NSA have implemented new systems to review their activities to determine which issues should be briefed to Congress. The information is now usually provided to Congress in written memoranda, and a record is made of such notifications. We believe these new systems will improve performance and accountability in Congressional notification.
9. Referral of Alpirez allegation to DOJ
The performance of both CIA and DOJ was less thorough than was warranted with regard to the criminal referral of the allegation that Colonel Alpirez was present at DeVine’s death. CIA failed to communicate information that would have led to a more vigorous DOJ investigation. We do not believe, however, that this failure violated the law, nor do we believe that it affected DOJ’s ultimate determination in the case.
DOJ and the intelligence agencies should institute new internal and inter-agency procedures to ensure significant criminal referrals receive appropriate attention.
DOJ has implemented new internal procedures to improve tracking of crimes reports that it receives from intelligence agencies, and it has reached a new Memorandum of Understanding with the agencies to ensure that significant crime reports receive special attention. We believe these improvements will reduce the chances of the sort of breakdown in the process that occurred with regard to the DeVine crimes report.
10. Asset validation system
In part because performance in asset validation was not significantly reflected in the CIA DO’s promotion and rewards systems, there was a lack of emphasis on validation at station level. Even if the asset validation system had been functioning as intended, however, it would not have highlighted human rights issues, because this system had been designed to focus almost exclusively upon assets’ vulnerability to counterintelligence and upon eliminating non-producing assets from the payroll.
US intelligence agencies should ensure that their asset validation systems are accorded appropriate weight in internal performance-appraisal and rewards systems. Additionally, they should ensure that their validation systems consider not only counterintelligence and productivity issues, but also derogatory information on assets (including allegations of human rights abuse) from both governmental and nongovernmental sources.
CIA recently expanded its asset validation system to consider derogatory allegations against assets and increased the importance of asset validation in performance appraisals.
11. Reliability of allegations against Alpirez
The widely publicized allegation that Guatemalan Colonel Alpirez directed or was present at the murder of US citizen Michael DeVine appears to have been based upon information that was unreliable and was contradicted by other evidence. Alpirez, however, clearly participated in the cover-up of the military’s role in DeVine’s death. Numerous other reports also contradict the subsequent allegation that Colonel Alpirez killed guerrilla leader Efrain Bamaca Velasquez or was present at his death. We are convinced, however, that Alpirez participated in at least part of Bamaca’s interrogation. We believe, but lack definitive proof, that Bamaca’s interrogation included torture and that Bamaca was killed within about a year of being captured. We believe assets or liaison contacts were likely involved or knowledgeable, but we found no indication that the CIA was aware of these links during its relationships with these individuals.
12. Alleged NSA document destruction
The allegation that NSA and Army officials destroyed records related to the activity of US intelligence agencies in Guatemala (which was communicated to a member of Congress purportedly on NSA letterhead) appears to have been fabricated. An investigating US Attorney has also found no basis for the charge.
13. Storage and retrieval of intelligence information
The State Department’s Bureau of Intelligence and Research (INR) lacked–and still lacks–an adequate capability for document storage and for the retrieval of intelligence information from its electronic database.
CIA’s Directorate of Operations records system was inadequate and degraded the ability of headquarters and station officers to have access to all relevant and available information.
The State Department and CIA should promptly examine and remedy the shortcomings in their systems for storing and retrieving intelligence information.
The DO has improved its records system to facilitate more thorough searches of its database and is currently working to digitize all of its nonelectronic holdings.
14. Follow-up evaluation of implementation
Agency inspectors general should evaluate the implementation of these recommendations and any actions taken thereupon, and should report the results of their evaluations to the IOB within one year of the date of this report.
THE CONTEXT: US RELATIONS WITH GUATEMALA
In 1954, as the communist party gained increasing influence in the Guatemalan government headed by President Jacobo Arbenz, the US assisted in the overthrow of the Arbenz government. Following this coup, the US was closely allied to successive Guatemalan governments. In the 1960’s, a left-wing guerrilla movement with ties to Cuba emerged in Guatemala and carried out violent attacks, including the 1968 assassination of the US ambassador. This insurgency continued throughout the 1960’s and intensified in the late 1970’s.
Relations between the US and Guatemalan governments came under strain in 1977, when the Carter administration issued its first annual human rights report on Guatemala. The Guatemalan government rejected that report’s negative assessment and refused US military aid. The human rights situation deteriorated further in the late 1970’s and early 1980’s, as the Guatemalan army–in which the intelligence and security services played a central role–waged a ruthless scorched-earth campaign against the communist guerrillas as well as noncombatants. In the course of this campaign in a country with a population that has never been more than approximately 10 million, more than 100,000 Guatemalans died. Through the 1980’s and into the 1990’s, the human rights situation gradually improved as the insurgency waned, but successive Department of State human rights reports continued to document egregious violations, including murders of political opponents.
Relations between the two countries warmed in the mid-1980’s with gradual improvements in human rights and the Reagan administration’s emphasis on curbing the spread of communism in Central America. After a civilian government under President Cerezo was elected in 1985, overt non-lethal US military aid to Guatemala resumed. In December 1990, however, largely as a result of the killing of US citizen Michael DeVine by members of the Guatemalan army, the Bush administration suspended almost all overt military aid.
Guatemala inaugurated a new democratically-elected president, Jorge Serrano, in January 1991. In May 1993, however, President Serrano, claiming to be frustrated by congressional corruption, illegally dissolved the congress and supreme court and tried to restrict civil freedoms. In the face of strong protests by Guatemalan citizens and the international community (including the United States) and–most importantly–in the face of the Guatemalan army’s refusal to support him, President Serrano’s Fujimori-style “auto-coup” failed. In June l993, following President Serrano’s flight from the country, the Guatemalan congress elected the human rights ombudsman, Ramiro De Leon Carpio, to be president.
The US worked with the De Leon government in attempting to strengthen democracy and human rights. Both governments also cooperated in the fight against the transnational shipment of illegal narcotics, which had become a major problem in Guatemala in the early 1990’s. The US also joined the “Group of Friends of the Peace Process,” which continues to work to bring an end to Guatemala’s 35-year-old internal conflict. In January 1996, Guatemalans elected a new President, Alvaro Arzu Irigoyen.
There has been some improvement over time in the Guatemalan military’s accountability with regard to human rights violations. Whereas in the 1980’s the army acted with total impunity, in the 1990’s military personnel were for the first time charged, convicted, and imprisoned for some of their crimes. Senior officers, however, are still rarely charged for their roles in ordering or covering up such crimes. Human rights problems, including cases involving US citizens, remain a serious concern in US-Guatemalan relations.
US policy objectives in Guatemala since 1984 have included supporting the transition to and strengthening of civilian democratic government, encouraging respect for human rights and the rule of law, supporting economic growth, combating illegal narcotics trafficking, fighting the communist insurgency, and, in recent years, advancing the peace process.
US INTELLIGENCE OBJECTIVES AND PROGRAMS IN GUATEMALA
Intelligence objectives and activities
US intelligence officials in Guatemala and Washington worked to support overall US policy objectives in Guatemala. For the CIA in particular these objectives entailed recruiting human sources of intelligence, called “assets,” and developing a close liaison relationship with the Guatemalan security services.
The station’s traditional foreign intelligence collection activities continued fundamentally unchanged over the period we examined. The intelligence produced by the station (as well as by other collectors) proved valuable at times to the embassy and other policy makers. In particular, these intelligence consumers found some of the reporting helpful in providing information not available to embassy political officers. Several reports on human rights violations also served as the bases for US diplomatic protests and other diplomatic actions.
The close liaison relationship the CIA maintained with the Guatemalan security services helped to counter the communist insurgency in Guatemala and to combat the flow of illegal narcotics through Guatemala to the United States. For example, cooperation between the Guatemalans, the CIA, and the Drug Enforcement Administration resulted in the seizure of forty-eight metric tons of cocaine from 1990 through 1993 as it was being shipped through Guatemala to the United States by Colombian drug cartels. After these seizures, the amount of narcotics transiting Guatemala appears to have dropped dramatically. The CIA’s liaison relationship with the Guatemalan services also benefited US interests by enlisting the assistance of Guatemala’s primary intelligence and security service–the army’s directorate of intelligence (D-2)–in areas such as reversing the “auto-coup” of 1993 and protecting US citizens at risk, including the 1994 rescue of a kidnapped American girl. Because the D-2 was widely considered to be the elite within the Guatemalan military and government, the station also often requested and received administrative and logistical assistance from the D-2 on behalf of the embassy.
The human rights records of the Guatemalan security services–the D-2 and the Department of Presidential Security (known informally as “Archivos,” after one of its predecessor organizations)–were generally known to have been reprehensible by all who were familiar with Guatemala. US policy-makers knew of both the CIA’s liaison with them and the services’ unsavory reputations. The CIA endeavored to improve the behavior of the Guatemalan services through frequent and close contact and by stressing the importance of human rights — insisting, for example, that Guatemalan military intelligence training include human rights instruction. The station officers assigned to Guatemala and the CIA headquarters officials whom we interviewed believe that the CIA’s contact with the Guatemalan services helped improve attitudes towards human rights. Several indices of human rights observance indeed reflected improvement–whether or not this was due to CIA efforts–but egregious violations continued, and some of the station’s closest contacts in the security services remained a part of the problem.
The end of the Cold War gradually led to lower funding levels for the station, but had only a limited effect upon the mechanics of how the CIA carried out its business and upon the mind-set of the CIA officers dealing with Guatemala. Station officers continued to view the communist insurgents–who seemed to threaten a more democratic government–as the primary enemy, and they viewed the Guatemalan government and security services as partners in the fight against this common foe and against new threats such as narcotics and illegal alien smuggling.
The funds the CIA provided to the Guatemalan liaison services were vital to the D-2 and Archivos. This funding was seen as necessary to make these services more capable partners with the station, particularly in pursuing anti-communist and counternarcotics objectives. The CIA, with the knowledge of ambassadors and other State Department and National Security Council officials, as well as the Congress, continued this aid after the termination of overt military assistance in l990.
There have been public allegations that CIA funds were increased to compensate for the cutoff of military aid in 1990. We did not find this to have been the case. Overall CIA funding levels to the Guatemalan services dropped consistently from about $3.5 million in FY 1989 to about l million in l995.
ASSET INVOLVEMENT IN HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATIONS
DO Guidance on Human Rights
The CIA’s Directorate of Operations (DO) and Guatemala station were clearly aware of the potential for human rights violations by assets and liaison contacts. In November 1988, the DO’s Latin America (LA) division provided a guidance cable to its Central American stations, in which it noted that human rights violations were being used politically by Washington opponents of CIA programs in Central America, but went on to state:
Point we would like to make is that we must all become sensitized to the importance of respecting human rights, and we must ensure that those assets and resources we direct and/or fund are equally sensitive. The issue will only become more important, and we serve our objectives best if we remember that if we ignore the importance of the human rights issue in the final analysis we do great damage to our mission. We are under great scrutiny.
Finally, aside from the legal and policy considerations which are constant in any allegations concerning violation’s [sic] of human rights we also recognize a basic moral obligation. We are Americans and we must reflect American values in the conduct of our business. We are all inherently opposed to the violation of human rights. Those who work with us in one capacity or another must also respect these values.
DO instructions on warning targets of assassination issued in September 1989 stated, “Participation of an asset in an assassination may constitute a violation of US law or regulations and is grounds for immediate termination of the Agency’s relationship with the asset. Thus, complete information of any such incident should be sent to Headquarters as soon as possible.”
In 1990, the LA division chief warned the Guatemala chief of station (COS) that human rights performance was high on the agenda for the executive and legislative branches, with Guatemala seen as second only to El Salvador among human rights violators in the region.
In August 1992, the Latin American division chief provided guidance to his stations to check all new liaison contacts carefully for possible human rights violations. The guidance cable also directed stations to follow up on all accusations of human rights violations in order to corroborate or refute them.
In May l993, the Guatemala COS initiated a review of many of his assets “to ensure that no station unilateral asset is, or has been involved in human rights violations.” The station started by questioning some of its assets and planned to polygraph them. No station personnel recall, however, what prompted this review or why it was apparently never completed. It may have been overtaken by Serrano’s “auto-coup” later that month and by the COS’s departure soon thereafter.
In September 1994, because of a human rights issue unrelated to Guatemala, the LA division directed all of its stations to review their current assets for human rights violations. In Guatemala, this review ultimately identified a few asset relationships for termination. All but one of these terminations of relationship were carried out in early 1995–before this IOB review had been ordered–and the last occurred soon thereafter. Relationships with a few more assets identified as possible human rights abusers had already been ended prior to September 1994 for various reasons.
Apart from the guidance to Guatemala station and other Latin American stations that is described above, there was no CIA-wide policy before 1995 that spelled out in detail the danger of human rights abuse by assets and what specific actions were to be taken by the stations and at CIA headquarters in such circumstances.
Allegations of human rights abuse by assets
In the course of our review, we learned that in the period since 1984, several CIA assets were credibly alleged to have ordered, planned, or participated in serious human rights violations such as assassination, extrajudicial execution, torture, or kidnapping while they were assets–and that the CIA was contemporaneously aware of many of the allegations. A number of assets were alleged–though with varying degrees of reliability–to have been involved in similar abuses before their CIA asset relationships began. In several other cases, the alleged abuses occurred or came to light only after the CIA was no longer in contact with the asset. A few assets were reportedly present while non-assets engaged in acts of intimidation, and another engaged in such an act before becoming an asset. Another asset was the subject of an unspecified allegation of human rights abuse. Several of the above assets were also involved in covering up human rights abuses, as was one additional asset. In addition, a number of the station’s liaison contacts–Guatemalan officials with whom the station worked in an official capacity–were also alleged to have been involved in human rights abuses or in covering them up.
In many of these cases, however, US intelligence learned of the allegations only by virtue of reports from other assets who were themselves alleged to have engaged in similar abuses. Some of these sources, though, had grudges against those about whom they reported and thus may have had an incentive to fabricate or exaggerate allegations.
The IOB notes that US national interests, with respect to Guatemala and elsewhere, can in some cases justify relationships with assets who have sordid or even criminal backgrounds, including human rights violations. In fact, it will often be the case that the best placed sources of information on nefarious activities are not entirely clean themselves. There should be, however, an effort explicitly to balance the value and uniqueness of an asset’s contributions against the seriousness and reliability of any allegations against him. We believe it critical that this balancing process take place in the context of broad US interests. It should be noted that, in carrying out domestic law enforcement activities, US authorities regularly weigh such considerations in entering into informant relationships with persons who have criminal backgrounds. Among the potential costs to be considered in establishing or continuing such relationships with foreign intelligence assets are: their moral implications, the damage to US objectives in promoting greater respect for human rights, the loss of confidence in the intelligence community among members of the Congress and the public, and the effect of such relationships on the ethical climate within US intelligence agencies. In February 1996, largely as a result of the inquiries related to Guatemala, the CIA did issue guidance for dealing with allegations of serious human rights violations or crimes of violence by assets and liaison services. We believe this new policy strikes an appropriate balance: it generally bars such relationships, but it permits senior CIA officials to authorize them in special cases when national interests so warrant, We are disturbed, however, that until the recent Guatemala inquiries, the CIA had failed to establish agency-wide written guidance on such an important issue.
Among the most serious examples of credible allegations against a then-active CIA asset were those involving an asset who was the subject of allegations that in multiple instances he ordered and planned assassinations of political opponents and extrajudicial killings of criminals, as well as other, less specific allegations of unlawful activities. Although some of these allegations were from sources of undetermined or suspect reliability, one was from a source considered credible by the station at the time. Another asset was alleged to have planned or to have had prior knowledge of multiple separate assassinations or assassination attempts before and during his asset relationship. A third asset has been alleged to have participated in assassination, extrajudicial killing, and kidnapping during and before his time as an asset.
The station informed DO headquarters through intelligence reports or operational cables of those allegations against its assets and liaison contacts of which it was aware. (In one significant instance, though, when the station requested authority to recruit a particular asset, it failed to remind headquarters of an assassination allegation previously made against him.) DO headquarters, however, appeared in practice to attach too little weight to human rights issues and reacted contemporaneously to human rights allegations against only a few of the assets. This conduct was probably the predictable result of an arrangement in which the necessary balancing, when done, was conducted informally, and was done exclusively by CIA DO division-level managers and chiefs of station–whose performance and awards systems emphasized recruiting and maintaining productive intelligence assets.
Of great concern to the IOB is the apparent lack of sensitivity before September 1994 by DO headquarters or the station to the series of allegations against a particular asset, especially in light of a reliable report that he was directly involved in an assassination. No CIA officials we interviewed recalled this asset as having presented a human rights problem, nor could any officials provide an explanation for the absence of an reaction to the allegations. We found no cable traffic or other written record of deliberation concerning the asset prior to late 1994. The CIA maintained its relationship with the asset despite his egregious record of human rights abuse allegations until the relationship was finally terminated as part of the September 1994 review.
Of those assets alleged to have committed serious human rights violations, relationships with all but a few were terminated prior to September 1994 for a variety of reasons; of these, only one relationship was ended principally because of a human rights allegation. After the September 1994 review of Latin American assets, relationships with the few remaining such assets were terminated because of allegations of human rights abuse such as assassinations and kidnapping.
ASSET VALIDATION SYSTEM
In analyzing the apparent breakdown of the process for identifying assets against whom allegations of human rights abuse had been made we reviewed the functioning of the “asset validation system.” CIA’s Directorate of Operations instituted this system in 1989 in order to advance two primary objectives unrelated to human rights: to cut ties to assets believed to be counterintelligence risks and to end relationships with assets whose information production was not worth the payments they received. Stations were directed to test and to polygraph assets continually and to analyze their likely intelligence contributions. This process was to be completed for existing assets within two years of the system’s implementation, but in practice the process usually took much longer or was never completed.
We found that the CIA showed an inadequate commitment to the asset validation system. Although we understand that validating assets will never take on the same cachet as recruiting new ones, we believe it requires greater emphasis in the field. Despite repeated statements by DO managers on the importance of asset validation, a 1994 survey by the CIA Inspector General found that only 9 percent of DO personnel surveyed believed that promotion panels rewarded quality work in asset validation. Even when one makes allowances for the amount of time it takes to validate new assets and the difficulties of validating tenuously controlled assets by excluding such assets from the pool of unvalidated assets, only two-thirds of the assets in Guatemala had been “validated” by late 1994.
Because the validation system’s nearly exclusive focus, at that time, was upon counterintelligence concerns and the purging of non-performing assets, even more vigorous asset validation would not have identified those assets involved in human rights abuses. The asset validation system has recently been changed to take into consideration all derogatory allegations against assets, including allegations of human rights abuse. With this change, it will be important for the DO to review all sources of derogatory information, including reporting from the embassy, other agencies, the press, and human rights groups.
NOTIFICATION TO POLICY-MAKERS OF HUMAN RIGHTS ABUSES BY ASSETS
Although National Security Council officials and State Department officials at the embassy and in Washington were generally aware of the CIA’s activities and liaison relationships in Guatemala, the CIA did not inform these officials until the end of 1994 and early 1995 that any of its assets or contacts were alleged to have committed human rights abuses. These policy officials were thus denied information relevant to their decision-making and lost any opportunity to express possible concerns that such asset relationships undermined US policy on human rights.
The rules for information-sharing between station and embassy are set forth in a 1977 State-CIA agreement, which states that chiefs of station should keep ambassadors “fully and currently informed about all CIA programs and activities,” but also that the chief of station is responsible, at the same time, “for protecting intelligence sources and methods from unauthorized disclosure.” Concerning the disclosure of asset identities in particular, the agreement states that the COS will “identify to the chief of mission individuals and organizations within the host country with which CIA maintains covert relationships and with which he and senior embassy officers that he may designate have official contacts.” CIA officers we interviewed, from former DDOs down to case officers in Guatemala, uniformly expressed the view that the l977 agreement called upon them to inform ambassadors of asset identities only when assets were cabinet level officials or otherwise in frequent contact with the ambassador. State Department officials have told us, however, that they understood ambassadors would be informed of asset identities in cases of frequent contact or if the asset relationship was of “policy” or “political” significance.
In the case of Guatemala, based on the CIA’s understanding of the 1977 agreement and despite knowing about the high emphasis policy-making officials placed on human rights, the COS chose not to inform the ambassador or other policy makers of relationships with assets alleged to have been involved in significant human rights abuses. Given ambassadors’ positions as the President’s personal representatives and their need to be aware of US government activities that have significant policy ramifications, the IOB strongly believes that the State-CIA agreement should be amended to state explicitly that ambassadors will be informed of intelligence activities, including asset and liaison relationships (including, when appropriate, the names of the assets or contacts in question) that have significant policy implications. The determination of policy significance will require judgment by CIA officials, but at a minimum notification should be made in instances of reasonably credible allegations of involvement by CIA assets in the death or abuse of US citizens or in incidents of assassination, kidnapping, or torture. If there is concern over an ambassador’s handling of intelligence information, the CIA should convey the information to the appropriate senior officials at the Department of State. Policy officials in Washington, such as representatives of the National Security Council, the Department of State (and when appropriate) the Department of Justice, should be similarly notified.
Although ambassadors and other senior policy-makers are often pressed by heavy workloads, it must be their responsibility to devote appropriate time to receiving intelligence briefings. Prior to and during their postings, all ambassadors should receive mandatory briefings on intelligence programs in their countries. The IOB believes that high level State Department emphasis will be required to ensure that all ambassadors attend such briefings and receive adequate initial and recurring training on intelligence activities and on the importance of safeguarding intelligence sources and methods. At the same time, CIA must ensure that ambassadors receive in these briefings all appropriate information on CIA activities and relationships in their countries.
The system for collecting and disseminating intelligence information can function properly, however, only if US executive and legislative branch officials are held accountable should they compromise or improperly handle classified information. A lack of accountability puts sources of intelligence at risk. The effect is to discourage the proper provision of information by intelligence agencies to intelligence consumers and the oversight community, and ultimately to jeopardize the ability of the United States to recruit sources and to collect intelligence in the furtherance of its national interests around the world. Ample avenues exist by which well-intentioned officials can raise grievances concerning intelligence activities-either through the executive branch to the National Security Advisor or the President, or through the Congressional oversight committees to the Congressional leadership–without publicly revealing sensitive intelligence information.
Conclusions concerning CIA Congressional notification
The IOB found the CIA’s performance in notifying Congress to have been inadequate. Specifically, the IOB concluded that the CIA leadership violated its statutory obligation to keep the Congressional oversight committees fully and currently informed under Section 413 of Title 50 of the U.S. Code. Though this statute is not criminal and the standard is too broad to be fulfilled to the letter, CIA officers, particularly senior leaders at CIA headquarters, were derelict in failing to provide information they should have provided under even the narrowest reading of the statute. In examining specific instances in which information was not provided to Congress, the IOB considered the available evidence and, on balance, judged that CIA officials did not act with intent to mislead Congress–though they did intentionally withhold some information, in substantial part due to concerns for the protection of sources.
We found the primary causes of this failure in Congressional notification to have been the absence of a systematic notification process and inadequate emphasis from the CIA’s leadership. The ad hoc manner in which Congressional notifications were handled–combined with the DO’s general disinclination to volunteer sensitive information even to authorized recipients–created an environment that bred notification failures. For this we fault the CIA and DO leadership back to the enactment of the oversight statute in 1980. The CIA has recently instituted a new system to review its activities for issues that should be briefed to Congress. Such information is now usually provided to Congress in written memoranda, and a record is made of such notifications. This new system should improve performance and accountability in Congressional notification.
The IOB also found that semi-annual reports from the CIA to Congress on what the CIA was doing to improve respect for human rights in Guatemala created a misleading impression on the status of human rights by focusing exclusively on positive contributions. The IOB believes CIA headquarters managers should have recognized this effect and ensured, whether through the reports or through other means, that Congress received an accurate portrayal of the human rights situation.
With respect to criminal liability concerning these CIA nondisclosures, we have found no adequate basis to conclude that the conduct of any of the relevant CIA officials violated any criminal statute. First, the statute requiring “full and current” disclosure is not a criminal statute.
Second, it appears that section 1505 of Title 18 of the US Code, the statute that criminalizes the obstruction of a Congressional “inquiry or investigation,” was not violated. It is doubtful that an “inquiry or investigation” within the meaning of the statute was underway during the period of time at issue. It also appears that, at least within the D.C. Circuit, this statute is violated only if an official encouraged, influenced, or conspired with another to mislead Congress, see United States v. Poindexter, 951 F.2d 369, 385 (D.C. Cir. 1991 ); we have found no persuasive evidence of this element and believe none can be found.
Third, the false statement statute, section 1001 of Title 18, is likely inapplicable because a recent Supreme Court decision strongly suggests that statements to Congress are outside the statute’s coverage, see Hubbard v. United States, 115 S. Ct. 1754, 1765 (1995). In addition, we note that, as a general proposition, “knowingly” withholding information from a congressional committee is not sufficient to establish the mental state necessary to constitute the criminal offense of misleading Congress. Rather, the action must also be “willful.” Thus, even if the false statement and obstruction of Congress statutes were available in this context, both would require that the defendant acted “knowingly”–that is, voluntarily and purposely and not because of mistake, inadvertence, or accident. Both would also require that the defendant acted “willfully”–that is, with the intent to bring about a particular result or to do something that the law forbids. The Board does not believe that the available facts are sufficient to constitute a violation of either of these statutes.
Fourth, we have concluded that there is an insufficient basis to believe that a violation of section 371 of Title 18 occurred. Section 371, as construed by the federal courts, proscribes, among other things, conspiracies to interfere with a governmental function by dishonest means. An agreement to defeat or interfere with the congressional intelligence oversight process by lying to or misleading the Congress, or by withholding information without statutory justification, could, under certain circumstances, amount to a criminal conspiracy. Under the circumstances we examined, however, we do not believe it likely that an offense occurred. In particular, there is no evidence that information was withheld from the Congress as a result of the concerted effort or agreement to interfere with the congressional oversight process. Even though there was an affirmative obligation to disclose the particular information not provided to Congress, and the incomplete briefings and reports provided to committee staffs over the years had the effect of misleading them and interfering with the oversight process, we do not believe that there is sufficient evidence to establish that this conduct was the result of any agreement.
For these reasons, the IOB has not found sufficient basis for a criminal referral to the Attorney General of this failure in disclosure to the Congress. The Department of Justice also considered this issue at the request of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence (SSCI) and found that the facts posited by the SSCI did not constitute a sufficient basis upon which to premise a criminal prosecution. However, pursuant to Executive Order 12863, which governs the IOB, the Board has notified DOJ of its belief that in the past the CIA has violated Title 50 of the U.S. Code by failing to keep the Congress “fully and currently informed.” The Board notes, however, that this violation was not criminal, that the CIA has taken remedial action, and that there appears to be no threat of a continuing violation.
Failure to notify Congress on receipt of the Alpirez allegation
Although we now consider the allegation to have been inaccurate, the significance of the October 1991 claim of Colonel Alpirez’s presence at the death of US citizen Michael DeVine leaves no doubt that the oversight committees should have been notified at the time. Indeed, none of the CIA officials involved dispute that this allegation should have been briefed to Congress. There is no record that the CIA notified Congress of the allegation of Alpirez’s involvement in DeVine’s death until after the January 1995 allegation that Alpirez killed guerrilla leader Efrain Bamaca Velasquez; none of the officials with whom responsibility lay can recall any earlier notification. Thus the issue becomes: was this failure to notify intentional or was it unintentional? Unfortunately, we have found no record that definitively answers this question, and there are facts that support both possibilities.
Among the evidence that the CIA intended to notify Congress was the inclusion of a note on a question and answer (Q&A) page in the acting DCI’s October 1991 briefing book indicating that CIA was trying to brief the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence (HPSCI) regarding the Alpirez allegation. The acting DCI believes he saw the Q&A, but that, given the assertion in the Q&A that arrangements to brief the HPSCI were then under way, he probably assumed that they were already being carried out. The Deputy Director for Operations (DDO) recalls that he too saw the Q&A and that the allegation of Alpirez’s involvement in the death of a US citizen was the reason for the DO’s action to notify DOJ and the basis upon which the DO intended to notify Congress. The CIA’s decision to refer the allegation to DOJ, while not directly indicating an intent to notify Congress, does indicate that there was no intent to try to keep the allegation within the CIA. Moreover, a lawyer from the CIA Office of General Counsel assigned to the Latin America division ended his notes on a November 18,199l meeting with DOJ on this subject with “Brief committees on this.” The lawyer does not recall, however, whether this reflected the discussion or merely his own thoughts. Finally, we found no evidence of any instructions or conspiracy to withhold the Alpirez information.
On the other hand, the LA Central America branch chief recalled that he and others in the division realized in November or December l991 that Congress had not yet been notified of the Alpirez allegation. (The General Counsel official’s November 18 note to “Brief committees on this” suggests that he too believed in mid-November that the matter had not yet been briefed.) The lack of action upon this realization leaves open the possibility that these officials may have consciously delayed notification. Numerous events brought the Alpirez allegation to the attention of relevant CIA branch, group, and division managers over the next several months. Significant among these are: the referral of the matter to DOJ (including a November 18 meeting with DOJ officials to discuss the report, which was attended by the deputy Central America branch chief); two or three instances recalled by the group chief at which he asked the lawyer assigned to LA division to check on the status of DOJ s deliberations; the April 15, 1992 CIA semi-annual human rights report to Congress on Guatemala, which mentioned the DeVine case, was edited by the deputy branch chief, and was reviewed by the rest of branch, group, division, and directorate management; the May 19, 1992 meeting with SSCI staff at which the Guatemala chief of station discussed the DeVine case; and the discussion of the DeVine case that occurred during a June 26 meeting with the SSCI staff attended by the Assistant Deputy Director for Operations (ADDO), LA division chief, and Guatemala COS. Each of these events brought the Alpirez-DeVine issue to the minds of CIA officials, though these events may not necessarily have reminded them that Congress had not yet been notified.
Because of the contradictory indicators of intent, conflicting and vague recollections, and a paucity of documentary evidence, no one, we believe, can conclude with certainty whether the failure to notify Congress of Alpirez’s alleged presence at DeVine’s murder was intentional or unintentional. After careful consideration, however, we have concluded that the failure was most likely unintentional. We believe that, among other things, the decision to refer the allegation to DOJ and the inclusion of the above-mentioned note in the acting Director’s Congressional briefing materials stating that CIA officers were attempting to notify Congress of the allegation against Alpirez make it unlikely that the failure to provide the information to Congress in 1991 was intentional.
The question of intent aside, however, the CIA’s performance in this area reflects a dereliction of responsibility and a violation of its statutory obligation to keep its oversight committees “fully and currently informed” of all intelligence activities as required under Title 50 of the U.S. Code. The failure to notify Congress of Alpirez’s alleged presence at DeVine’s death would not have occurred had CIA managers and officers attached the required importance to Congressional notification. Proper attention to notification responsibilities by the DCI, DDO, and ADDO should have resulted in the establishment of a systematic process by which notification decisions were considered, made, carried out, and recorded.
Semi-annual CIA human rights reports to Congress
Between 1989 and 1994, the DCI was required to report to the intelligence and appropriations committees on how programs in Guatemala had been used “to further the objective of greater respect for human rights and what specific action will be taken in the ensuing period to further that objective.” The requirement’s language did not call explicitly for reporting on human rights abuses by the Guatemalan security services; nor did it call for a comprehensive report on the status of human rights in the country–in contrast, for example, to the requirement for the annual State Department human rights report. The CIA’s semi-annual reports appear to have satisfied the letter of the requirement to report on how the program had been used “to further the objectives of greater respect for human rights.” For CIA officials, the emphasis was clearly to be on the positive contributions of their activities. As several CIA officers have noted, in fact, the requirement to report was perceived to be an opportunity for the CIA to put its best foot forward. The officers preparing the reports believed, and still believe, that the program was a positive force for human rights in Guatemala and that the human rights situation had improved. The reports offered examples to support both convictions, such as the new human rights instruction offered at the Guatemalan intelligence school and the D-2’s investigatory role in the unprecedented arrest of a senior naval officer for human rights violations.
The semi-annual reports did not include information in the possession of the CIA concerning significant allegations of human rights abuses by the D-2 and Archivos. The omission of some of this information in reports that repeatedly referred to the security services roles in protecting human rights painted an incomplete picture of the Guatemalan security services. Although several of the reports, particularly before 1992, acknowledged significant continuing human rights violations, there was only one explicit reference in all the reports to an alleged violation by the D-2 or Archivos–and this reference dismissed the allegation in question. The station and DO were aware of a number of other allegations against the D-2 and Archivos from 1989 to 1994 that were not mentioned in the semi-annual reports.
We conclude that the semi-annual reports’ emphasis upon the program’s positive contributions and their exclusion of much negative information were intentional and resulted from a number of factors. Principal among these were: the narrow language of the reporting requirement, the DO officers’ perception that the requirement was an opportunity to emphasize the positive, the DO’s general predisposition to supply only specifically-requested information, and the erroneous belief expressed by station officers that the oversight committees were receiving the full picture through other channels. These factors were exacerbated by the station’s faulty discounting of some allegations out of a loss of objectivity towards its liaison services, a human inclination to focus upon the positive, and the lack of priority the CIA gave its semi-annual reports. (One of the cables from DO headquarters to the station demonstrated this lack of priority by stating, “We regret to inform you that it is once again time for the update for the SSCI on the effect of the . . . program on the human rights attitudes of the . . . [government of Guatemala]. . . . Apparently since there was no ‘ending date’ in the FY 90 budget approval that started this requirement, we are forced to carry it on forever.”)
We believe that, through a pattern of omissions and hyperbole, those responsible for the reports did present Congress with reports that were not comprehensive and balanced–and that were therefore misleading. However, given the narrow requirement from the Congress, we do not find an adequate basis to conclude that CIA officials intentionally sought to mislead Congress. Those drafting and reviewing the reports believed the program was a positive force for human rights in Guatemala, and they saw that as the issue raised by the requirement. We would view this issue differently if the Congressional requirement had asked for reporting on activities of or allegations against the Guatemalan security services, or if we had found CIA officials to have knowingly lied in the reports. (Although the SSCI staff appeared to have had different expectations, one of the principal recipients and readers of the reports then on the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence (HPSCI) staff has told us that he understood at the time that these reports were to focus on the positive contributions and were not expected to present a balanced picture of human rights in Guatemala.) We fault CIA managers, specifically including former DCIs, DDOs, and ADDOs, for not recognizing the misleading impression their reports gave, for not ensuring that this impression was balanced by other reporting, and for not giving the reports the attention they warranted.
1992 Briefings to oversight committee staff on human rights in Guatemala
A series of meetings occurred between CIA officers and the oversight committees in 1992 concerning Guatemalan human rights. In the course of these meetings, CIA briefers failed to provide some clearly relevant information. In some cases we believe the withholding was unintentional; in others we believe it was intentional. In at least one of the intentional cases notification subsequently occurred, but in others it did not.
One instance of intentional withholding that was followed by timely notification resulted from meetings between CIA officers and HPSCI staff on August 5 and SSCI staff on August 7,1992. Briefers from the DO (the branch chief and division chief, respectively) deliberately declined to identify an asset despite specific requests by the staff directors. The briefers did so because CIA policy (which we consider appropriate) limited authority for such disclosures to the DCI and DDO. The briefers did, however, alert their superiors, and ADDO Price then notified at least the SSCI.
A probable example of intentional withholding that was not followed by notification occurred when the Guatemala COS intentionally, we believe, did not mention Colonel Alpirez’s alleged involvement in the death of Michael DeVine when he discussed the DeVine case with the SSCI staff in a May 19 meeting (and possibly also in a June 26 meeting). We believe it improbable that he could have forgotten the Alpirez-DeVine linkage, since his headquarters had reminded him of it in a cable he received only a week earlier. He apparently did not alert his superiors to the omission from his briefing and did not feel it his responsibility to do so. Although responsibility for notifying the committees rests with headquarters–not chiefs of station–we believe that, by participating in the meeting, he incurred an obligation to inform his superiors.
In the other instances we examined in which information was not provided to committee staff during the meetings, we believe that the failures were likely unintentional. Intent, however, is not required for the withholding of information to have been a violation of the CIA’s obligation to keep the oversight committees “fully and currently informed” under Section 413 of Title 50 of the U.S. Code.
DOD Congressional notification
In the course of our review, we uncovered no significant developments related to the Department of Defense’s intelligence collection in Guatemala that were not briefed to the Congressional oversight committees. Congress was also notified of the l991 discovery by DOD that the School of the Americas and Southern Command had used improper instruction materials in training Latin American officers, including Guatemalans, from 1982 to 1991. These materials had never received proper DOD review, and certain passages appeared to condone (or could have been interpreted to condone) practices such as executions of guerrillas, extortion, physical abuse, coercion, and false imprisonment. On discovery of the error, DOD replaced and modified the materials, and instructed its representatives in the affected countries to retrieve all copies of the materials from their foreign counterparts and to explain that some of the contents violated US policy.
CRIMES REPORT TO DOJ
Upon learning of the allegation of Colonel Alpirez’s involvement in the death of Michael DeVine, CIA officials within the DO and the Office of General Counsel agreed that the matter should be referred to DOJ. This was done on November 18, 1991. Although the CIA initially conveyed the crimes report in a manner designed to set it apart from the routine, the report apparently was considered routine by the Department of Justice. DOJ investigated the allegation, but did not uncover all of the relevant background information. DOJ did not find the matter to fall within US jurisdiction, though it never formally closed the case. We find the performance of both the CIA and DOJ to have been less thorough than warranted. In particular, we believe that the CIA failed to communicate information that would have led to a more vigorous DOJ investigation, though we believe that this failure did not violate a legal obligation, nor do we believe that it affected DOJ’s ultimate determination in the case. As a result of its Inspector General’s investigation, DOJ has implemented new internal procedures to track crimes reports better and has entered into a new Memorandum of Understanding with the intelligence agencies to ensure that significant crimes reports receive special attention in the future. DOJ has also thoroughly reinvestigated the DeVine case and found no basis for US jurisdiction.
HUMAN RIGHTS REPORTING
Priority and performance in reporting
The intelligence community realized the importance its consumers placed on human rights reporting and treated the issue as one of its top priorities over the period we reviewed. Our interviews with intelligence officers and our review of cables confirmed that intelligence on human rights violations by the Guatemalan government had been considered a particularly high priority by US intelligence collectors since 1984. Intelligence officers noted that some assets feared the consequences if the US government learned of human rights abuses and that these fears made it difficult for the assets to discuss such matters candidly. Many of the reports of human rights abuses that intelligence officers did receive were second- or thirdhand, and some of the sources were known to have grudges against those about whom they reported. Nevertheless, assets were often the only sources capable of learning the details of abuses.
Several of these reports, however, proved valuable to the embassy and served as the bases for diplomatic protests to the Guatemalan government. Among these were a report confirming that Guatemalan soldiers had killed Michael DeVine and that the government was engaged in a cover-up. A subsequent report corroborated the embassy’s suspicions that the government had still not undertaken an earnest investigation six months after the murder and that the government did not intend to do so. This contributed to the ambassador’s recommendation that resulted in the termination of almost all US military aid to Guatemala in December 1990. In 1994 and 1995, clandestine reporting served as the bases for protests over the reported illegal detention of guerrilla leader Efrain Bamaca Velasquez after his apparent capture.
Other reports now appear to have been inaccurate–most prominently the October 1991 report that DeVine s interrogation and death took place on Colonel Alpirez’s base and that Alpirez was himself present. The evidence uncovered by Mrs. DeVine’s private investigator at the time and by a US Attorney recently reinvestigating the case indicates that DeVine was killed away from the base and that Alpirez was probably not present.
Perceived loss of objectivity
With the benefit of hindsight, the IOB has reviewed the facts available to the station and to headquarters and believes that in certain instances station and headquarters judgments were affected by a loss of objectivity. This was not a uniform problem; many of the same officers in other instances warned headquarters of the self-serving nature of some sources’ information. It would not be fair to say that the station was unquestioning in its support of the liaison services. Nevertheless, news that reflected negatively on the services was clearly seen as bad news. As such, there was a natural tendency to scrutinize such news more carefully than reports that exonerated the Guatemalan services. This is a tendency to which all overseas missions–whether diplomatic, military, or clandestine–must be alert.
The station did report human rights violations by the Guatemalan liaison services, even though it knew that this reporting could complicate the station’s relationships with these services and hence the station’s ability to accomplish its missions, particularly in gathering intelligence and fighting narcotics trafficking. DO headquarters at times commended the station for such reporting and requested more. We found that when clear and reliable allegations of abuse by the Guatemalan services or assets were received, the station almost always appropriately forwarded the information to its headquarters for dissemination in intelligence reports to consumers throughout the executive branch. In one significant exception, however, the CIA IG concluded in 1994 that the COS had delayed, diluted, and suppressed some reports because he feared they would hurt the reputation of the Guatemalan security services and his ability to work with them. The chief of station was subsequently reprimanded for these actions. It is worth noting, however, that the CIA IG investigation was triggered by a complaint from station officers who were alarmed by the COS’s actions.
In the cases of reports that were of questionable reliability, we found that more searching scrutiny was given to reports unfavorable to the security services than to favorable ones and that favorable reports were more likely to be disseminated beyond the DO. There was often also a failure to follow up on unfavorable reports by seeking out corroborating information or by polygraphing the sources.
Perhaps the clearest example of apparently giving inappropriate weight to favorable over unfavorable information was the way in which the station and DO headquarters handled reporting on the July 1992 politically motivated kidnapping of Maritza Urrutia, the former common law wife of a guerrilla. In October and November 1992, the station reported in two operations cables to DO headquarters that the D-2 was alleged to have been involved in this kidnapping. Later in November 1992, the station learned of rumors that Urrutia had been “voluntarily sequestered” and had willingly made propaganda tapes while under detention. The station reported this to CIA headquarters as a clarification of what had happened to Urrutia and used it as the basis for an intelligence report disseminated to executive branch agencies. The intelligence report mentioned the earlier allegations but substituted the word “detention” for “kidnapping,” rendering them compatible with the more benign account. A headquarters officer in a March 1993 semi-annual report to Congress apparently drew on this watered-down version in writing that “The [Central Intelligence] Agency investigated the [Maritza Urrutia] situation immediately and based on well-sourced unilateral reporting, concluded that the D-2 had not acted improperly.” Subsequent intelligence disseminated in November 1994, however, further corroborated the original allegation that it had indeed been a kidnapping.
Source characterization and protection
Another factor that affected some human rights reporting was the occasional omission–driven by the need to protect intelligence sources–of relevant information about sources or about those cited in the reports. In some cases the source’s identity was clearly relevant to any assessment of the report’s credibility. The Board recognizes that the DO must regularly make difficult decisions in balancing the need to protect sources against the need to share more meaningful information with intelligence consumers. Based on the evidence we reviewed, we found no significant examples in which the motivation for withholding information seems to have been to downplay “bad news” rather than to protect source identities.
Dissemination and retrieval of intelligence reports
Concerns for source protection also led the DO to restrict the dissemination of some reports to a very limited number of recipients at the Department of State and other agencies. This at times denied lower-level officers access to important information affecting issues on which they were working. Some of the DO’s concerns over the State Department’s handling of intelligence appeared, however, to be well-founded. One former ambassador had been cited often for not appropriately safeguarding classified documents; he had also relayed sensitive intelligence to the State Department via an unauthorized cable channel–but there is no indication that these lapses resulted in the compromise of any intelligence sources or methods. A State IG investigation of another State Department official, however, found that he had passed Guatemala-related classified information to a member of Congress without proper authorization, may have also provided- classified information to members of the press, and had prepared classified documents on his home computer that he then telecopied over unsecure telephone lines.
DIA overly restricted the dissemination of some reports, apparently unintentionally. Twenty reports related to Guatemala with special handling classification were not sent to the State Department or CIA headquarters because of a mistaken assumption that reports transmitted to DIA headquarters would automatically be readdressed to other agencies. All of the reports, however, were shared with embassy and station officers in Guatemala. DIA now checks the proper dissemination of specially handled reports daily.
The computer retrieval systems at three agencies also posed problems at times. When the DO conducted a records search on a potential asset, it failed to uncover an earlier intelligence report alleging that the individual in question had been involved in a serious abuse of human rights. This apparently occurred because intelligence reports were not normally retrievable in a standard DO record search unless the originator had “indexed” the report with the names of those mentioned in it. The station had failed to do so for the report in question. The DO has since upgraded its retrieval system to search the full texts of intelligence reports rather than just indexed terms and is now working to digitize all nonelectronic holdings.
At the State Department, the Inspector General noted that the department’s Bureau of Intelligence and Research (INR) lacked a systematic method for document storage and for the retrieval of intelligence information. The IG noted that this complicated its own investigations for this review, because INR repeatedly failed to retrieve relevant documents from its electronic database. The IOB recommends that the State Department promptly examine and correct this shortcoming.
At the Department of Justice, intelligence relevant to the investigation of the DeVine murder was not uncovered despite being available in DOJ records. The attorney investigating the case in 1991 requested information from the FBI, but there is no evidence that the FBI ever checked its own computerized files. The DOJ attorney did not seek information on DeVine from any other DOJ elements, such as the Office of International Affairs, which had relevant information in its files. The Department of Justice has since implemented a new system to track classified documents received by DOJ and has requested that the FBI take appropriate action to ensure better responsiveness to inquiries from DOJ attorneys for information within FBI files. In addition, as noted above, DOJ has recently completed a second investigation into the DeVine case that incorporated the information not located in its initial investigation.
ALLEGED NSA RECORDS DESTRUCTION
We found no evidence to support the March 1995 allegation that NSA and Army officials altered records pertaining to Guatemala in order to prevent scrutiny in any investigation, and we believe that there is no foundation to the charge. The allegation, communicated to a member of Congress in an anonymous letter telecopied to his office and also communicated to the press, appears to have been fabricated. Detailed analysis of the relevant databases indicates that no records on Guatemala were deleted or destroyed. Moreover, the officials identified in the anonymous letter, Lieutenant General Paul E. Menoher, Jr., the Army’s Deputy Chief of Staff for Intelligence, and Colonel Daniel D. Day, an Army officer assigned to NSA, either did not have or did not utilize the access necessary to make the alleged alterations. Finally, the anonymous letter, which purported to be on NSA letterhead, does not match any letterhead used by NSA within at least the last twenty years. An investigating US Attorney also found no basis for the allegation.
VICTIMS OF VIOLENCE IN GUATEMALA REVIEWED BY THE IOB
The IOB was asked to review the cases of Michael DeVine and Efrain Bamaca Velasquez (a Guatemalan citizen) and intelligence bearing on the torture, disappearance, or death of other US citizens in Guatemala since 1984, including Sister Dianna Ortiz, Griffith Davis, and Nicholas Blake. In addition to these specified individuals, the IOB examined nine other instances of unusual deaths or assaults involving US citizens that have occurred in Guatemala since 1984: Peter Wolfe, Janey Skinner, Jennifer Roitman, Meredith Larson, Josh Zinner, Peter Tiscione, Melissa Larsen, June Weinstock, and Daniel Callahan. Because an investigation of the Dianna Ortiz case by the Department of Justice is still underway, we will not draw conclusions on that case at this time. Our charter was to review intelligence bearing on these cases, not to solve them. Where our study of the intelligence allows us to provide helpful insight, however, we do offer our conclusions. At the IOB’s request, the Inspectors General of the Departments of State, Defense, Justice, and the CIA examined their respective agencies for any information pertaining to the above-named cases and provided that information for this review.
Dianna Ortiz has described a man she believes to have been a North American who rescued her from torture but warned her to tell no one about it and told her that he was taking her to a friend at the US embassy. This raises the possibility that this person had some association with the US government. Subject to resolution of the Ortiz investigation, we found no indication, however, that any US officials were involved in or had prior knowledge of the harm that befell these US citizens or the Guatemalan guerrilla leader Bamaca. Other than allegations related to the DeVine and Bamaca cases, which are discussed below, we found no allegations or evidence that US intelligence assets or liaison contacts were responsible for or had prior knowledge of the attacks against the Americans whose cases we reviewed.
As intelligence on these cases was reported to US government officials, very little of it was shared with victims or their surviving family members. In most cases, this was because there was no intelligence or the intelligence was conflicting and inconclusive. The IOB believes, however, that in such cases the United States should provide its citizens more information whenever possible. The Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) establishes the only legal requirement to provide such information, yet that process is often an unsatisfactory way through which to communicate the information to the families and victims. The redactions necessary to protect sensitive information in documents released under FOIA naturally give the reader the impression–usually mistaken–that relevant information is being withheld. Further, the reader is usually given no indication as to the reliability of the information. Victims and family members who seek intelligence information outside the FOIA process, however, usually find that it is not within the authority of policy agencies, such as the State Department, to share intelligence originating in another agency, and that it is not within the intelligence agencies’ charters to communicate directly with victims and families. We believe the State Department should demonstrate more initiative in seeking authorization from intelligence producers to share their intelligence in briefings (oral or written) to family members and victims. The briefings need not identify that the information came from intelligence, but they should attempt to convey some indication of its reliability.
Michael DeVine was an expatriate US citizen who had lived in Guatemala since 1977, running an inn, restaurant, and farm until he was murdered on June 8, 1990, near his property. Largely through the work of Carl West, a private investigator hired by Michael’s wife, Carole DeVine, six Guatemalan army enlisted men were convicted of Michael DeVine’s murder and are in prison. Their direct superior, Captain Hugo Contreras, was convicted on May 13, 1993, but escaped the same day and is still at large.
Significant intelligence bearing on the murder of Michael DeVine:
More than forty reports from intelligence sources relate directly to the DeVine murder. These reports contain varying and even conflicting accounts of the incident. We have included descriptions of most of this reporting in Appendix A. Three of the reports, described below, were of particular significance because they provided new information and prompted US government actions.
In August 1990, the CIA station disseminated its first intelligence report on the murder from a source who reported that Colonel Garcia Catalan, the military zone commander, had ordered the surveillance of DeVine and that it was carried out by five enlisted men. The source added that the Ministry of Defense was engaged in a cover-up, which included the destruction of a white Toyota pickup used to conduct the surveillance. (By the time of this report, the embassy, through Carl West’s investigation, already strongly suspected that members of the army killed DeVine.)
In December I990, the station disseminated an intelligence report from a source who stated that he believed that Captain Bohr Avendano and all but perhaps one of the arrested soldiers were innocent, and that those who had actually killed DeVine had not acted under official orders. (All but one of the soldiers in fact appear to have been innocent; in February 1991, they identified the soldiers later convicted of the murder.)
The source also reported that the Minister of Defense, against the advice of the Army Chief of Staff, was an obstacle to a proper investigation. (This intelligence contributed to the US ambassador’s recommendation that almost all military aid to Guatemala be suspended; this suspension was implemented almost immediately.)
In October 1991, the station disseminated an intelligence report from a source stating that Colonel Alpirez, who commanded the Kaibil training base near DeVine’s farm, had been present when DeVine died during interrogation conducted by Captain Contreras at the base. Colonel Garcia Catalan had reportedly ordered Contreras to recover a missing rifle believed to be in DeVine’s possession. Another source reported at the same time that Alpirez was an extremely violent man and had exhibited bizarre behavior. (The CIA passed this information to the DOJ to determine if the crime fell under US jurisdiction. The handling of that crimes report by the CIA and DOJ, and the CIA’s failure to notify the ambassador, other policymakers, and the Congressional oversight committees of this allegation were described earlier in this report.)
Many other reports offered conflicting accounts of various aspects of DeVine’s death. They suggest several possible motives, but the most frequently cited was that the murder occurred during an attempt to recover one or two missing army rifles. Different reports identified numerous officers as the intellectual authors of the murder, as other reports cleared the same officers. Several of the reports stated that the enlisted men convicted of the crime gad not been under orders to kill DeVine. The only respect in which the reporting was generally consistent came in its frequent corroboration of the military cover-up.
During the IOB’s review, the Department of Justice undertook an extensive reinvestigation of the DeVine case in order to determine whether US jurisdiction existed. In June 1996, DOJ determined that there was no basis for jurisdiction under the anti-terrorism statute or any other US law. DOJ determined that (1) the murder most likely occurred as the later-convicted enlisted men interrogated DeVine over a missing rifle (or rifles), and (2) there is insufficient evidence to conclude that the killing had been ordered, but that (3) the Guatemalan military launched a massive cover-up of its role in the affair. The IOB has found no reason to question these DOJ findings.
The widely publicized October 1991 allegation that DeVine was killed on Colonel Alpirez’s base and that Alpirez was present runs counter to the substantial evidence gathered by Carl West and by DOJ. We note, however, that there is no doubt that Alpirez participated in the Guatemalan army’s broad cover-up of the murder–a cover-up that also involved several CIA assets and liaison contacts.
Provision of intelligence to the DeVine family:
Although embassy officers met frequently with Mrs. DeVine, essentially no intelligence information was shared with her. Embassy officers state that Mrs. DeVine had access, through her private investigator, to more detailed information than did the embassy, and hence information more often flowed from her to the embassy than in the other direction. Nonetheless, we believe that the State Department should have given greater consideration to sharing intelligence-based information with Mrs. DeVine.
Efrain Bamaca Velasquez
Efrain Bamaca Velasquez, also known as “Commandante Everardo,” was a Guatemalan guerrilla leader and the husband of Jennifer Harbury, a US citizen. Bamaca disappeared in a battle with the Guatemalan army on March 12, 1992. He was presumed to have died in combat until Santiago Cabrera Lopez–a captured guerrilla who had been forced to work for the army before escaping in December 1992–testified in early 1993 that he had seen Bamaca being interrogated by Colonel Alpirez and others between March and July 1992.
Significant intelligence bearing on the disappearance of Efrain Bamaca:
More than fifty reports from intelligence sources pertain to Bamaca’s disappearance, but they offer greatly differing accounts of what happened. We have included descriptions of most of this reporting in Appendix B. About half of these reports stated that Bamaca was captured; several claimed that he had died in combat or committed suicide to avoid capture, and the balance did not specify what had happened. In the reports that claimed Bamaca was captured, there were various accounts of his subsequent fate. Several reports stated that he later died of his wounds, that he was taken to Guatemala City, that he was taken to an unspecified location, that he was killed by Alpirez, that he was killed on the slopes of a volcano, or that he was executed in unspecified circumstances. A number of reports indicated that Alpirez was involved in or supervised questioning of Bamaca.
Among the many reports on Bamaca’s fate, we believe six were especially significant because of the information they provided at the time. Because some of these accounts are contradictory–particularly with respect to Alpirez’s role in Bamaca’s death–they cannot all be accurate.
In March 1992, the station disseminated an intelligence report based on a source’s information that on March 12, 1992, the Guatemalan army had captured “Everardo,” the commander of the Revolutionary Organization of the People in Arms (ORPA) Luis Ixmata Battalion, in an ambush near San Marcos. The source said that Everardo, although lightly wounded in the arm, was in good condition, being well treated by the army, and cooperating fully with his captors. According to this source, the news of Everardo’s capture had not been publicized and would probably be kept secret, or even concealed by a claim that he had been killed, in order to maximize his intelligence value. The source also stated that Everardo had told his captors that Cuba was providing training and weapons to his guerrillas, and that the latest weapons shipment had come six months earlier. (There was no mention in the report of Everardo’s actual name, Efrain Bamaca Velasquez, and thus this report apparently received little or no attention until it was rediscovered in early November 1994.)
In May 1993, the station learned from a source recounting the apparent accuracy of the stories being told by “Willy” and “Carlos” (escaped guerrillas Jaime Adalberto Augustin Recinos and Santiago Cabrera Lopez) regarding captured guerrillas being held in clandestine prison cells by the Guatemalan military, including their descriptions of particular captured insurgents–including Bamaca. The source reported an allegation that Bamaca was alive, but he could neither confirm nor refute the allegation.
In May 1994, the station disseminated an intelligence report from a source who claimed that unidentified D-2 officers took Bamaca away shortly after his capture and that this was the last the source had heard anything about Bamaca’s whereabouts or status. The source had also suggested that Bamaca had been in good health at the time. In early November 1994, DOD disseminated an intelligence report saying that Bamaca had reportedly received a relatively minor wound in the arm in a firefight near Retalhuleu, was captured, and was interrogated at Retalhuleu and later at San Marcos. Because of Bamaca’s importance and repeated attempts to escape, he was encased in a full body cast to immobilize him. The report indicated that Bamaca was questioned for about a month in San Marcos by military intelligence division officers, and that he had talked freely about the guerrillas’ policies, personnel, and activities, though he provided false information about arms caches. After the military intelligence division decided Bamaca was no longer of use, it issued an order that he be killed and sent a D-2 helicopter which took Bamaca away from San Marcos while he was still alive. The report speculated that Bamaca had probably been dumped at sea, which may be why the government could not now produce the body. (The DOD had disseminated a report in April 1994 which suggested that in the mid-1980’s, the D-2 often dumped captured guerrillas into the sea from aircraft to eliminate evidence that prisoners had been tortured and killed.)
In late January 1995, the station disseminated a report from a source who said that he had been told that it was known within the senior ranks of the army that Alpirez had killed Bamaca.
In April 1995, the station disseminated an intelligence report from a source who had heard that Bamaca was said to be buried at the Cabanas army detachment, which was located in the village of Montanita, on the Cabuz River. The source was unable, however, to provide any other details on what had happened to Bamaca.
After reviewing all available information, the IOB believes that Bamaca was captured on March 12, 1992 after a firefight and was interrogated by numerous Guatemalan officers, including those identified by Santiago Cabrera Lopez. We believe that Bamaca was killed at some point between approximately four months and a year after his capture. The available evidence does not allow us to conclude who killed him, where he was killed, or where his remains are, but we believe it plausible that his execution would have been ordered at the highest levels of the Guatemalan military and that his interrogation at times included torture. The widely publicized allegation that Alpirez killed Bamaca was at best third-hand and has been contradicted by numerous other accounts. We do, however, believe that Alpirez participated in at least part of Bamaca’s interrogation. Some then-active CIA assets or liaison contacts have been alleged in various, often-contradictory accounts to have been involved in or to have known of Bamaca’s interrogation and death. Although the Board believes that assets or liaison contacts were likely involved or knowledgeable, it found no indication that the CIA was aware of these links at the time.
Provision of intelligence to Jennifer Harbury
As the State Department went to great lengths in pressing the Guatemalan government on the case, it used intelligence-based information in the process and in briefing Jennifer Harbury. In November 1994, the US ambassador to Guatemala, on instructions from the State Department, provided to Harbury the department’s intelligence-based conclusions about Bamaca’s fate: that Bamaca had suffered non-life-threatening wounds and had been captured, but that the US government had no information suggesting that he remained alive much beyond the first few weeks after- his capture. In February l995, the State Department again told Harbury that information suggested that Bamaca was killed following his capture. In May 1995, the State Department provided Harbury intelligence information from the April 1995 report on the alleged location of Bamaca’s remains–with appropriate cautions about the report’s potential unreliability.
Nonetheless, although the intelligence information concerning Bamaca was conflicting and offers no proof of his fate, we believe the State Department should have sought authority from the intelligence-originating agencies to include more information from the most credible intelligence reports in briefings given to Jennifer Harbury (preferably, however, without revealing that this information came from intelligence). Further, we found no indication that the State Department conducted or requested a search of previously collected intelligence on Bamaca until October 1994. If it had done so in early 1993, when Jennifer Harbury first raised the issue of her husband’s fate, the Department might have been able at a much earlier date to provide her with useful information about him–that is, a report that he had been taken alive.
The Department of Defense provided 38 declassified intelligence reports to Ms. Harbury under FOIA in May 1995. The CIA released 105 documents to her under FOIA in February 1996.
Sister Dianna Ortiz
Sister Dianna Ortiz, a US citizen, lived in Guatemala from 1987 to 1989, where she taught indigenous children. She says that after receiving repeated verbal and written threats, she was abducted on November 2, l989, from a religious retreat in Antigua, Guatemala, by two armed men. She reports that she was taken by bus and police car to a location where she was accused of supporting the guerrillas, interrogated, raped, and tortured. She says a man called “Alejandro,” whom she believes to be a North American and who appeared to exercise authority over her torturers, finally interceded the next morning and was taking her to a friend he claimed to have at the US embassy when she escaped from his vehicle in traffic in Guatemala City and ultimately made her way to the Papal Nuncio’s residence. Sister Ortiz departed Guatemala on November 5, 1989, and was treated for more than 100 apparent cigarette burns on her back. No suspects have ever been identified or charged.
At the request of the embassy, the FBI in December 1989 opened an investigation into this matter, but closed the case in March 1991 after it was unable to interview Ortiz, who was apparently incapable of discussing her experience at that time. The case was briefly reopened later in 1991 in order to incorporate the affidavit that Ortiz had provided to the Guatemalan government, but there was no further attempt to interview her. DOJ reopened the Ortiz again case in 1995 in conjunction with the government-wide Guatemala review.
Significant intelligence bearing on the case of Sister Ortiz:
In early November 1989, the station reported to DO headquarters on a November 4 meeting between the COS and the Guatemalan Minister of Defense (MOD). At the US ambassador’s request, the COS raised the issue of Ortiz’s desire to leave Guatemala. The MOD noted that the police had asked to interview Ortiz and that, having been denied permission to do so, they had obtained a court order to force Ortiz to speak with them. After the COS pointed out that this would lead to unfavorable publicity for the Guatemalan government, the MOD suggested that the COS talk to the chief of police. When the COS did so later that day, the chief of police agreed to let the matter pass.
A DOD intelligence report stated that in response to concerns about international criticism and accusations of possible military involvement, Guatemalan authorities in early November 1989 agreed to step up their investigation into the kidnapping of a U.S. person (presumably Ortiz) from a Guatemalan religious retreat, even though the victim allegedly refused to provide details of the kidnapping. Guatemalan authorities maintained that the military played no role in the kidnapping.
At some time prior to October 15, 1991, a source told the station that Ortiz had in fact been kidnapped as she claimed and that it was probably done by the S-2 (Intelligence) office of Military Zone 302, which covers Antigua. This source said that Ortiz had been in contact with the guerrillas, and this contact led to her arrest. The source, however, said that he did not believe that Ortiz had been raped because women prisoners were not normally sexually molested. Instead, he said, women were usually either stabbed to death to make it look like an ordinary criminal incident, or drugged and released in a disoriented state. This report was not sent to DO headquarters or disseminated as intelligence. Station personnel, while not remembering seeing the report at the time, told the IOB upon reviewing it that the report would not have been disseminated because it was not reliable intelligence in that there was no chain of information explaining how the source claimed to have knowledge of it.
In late December 1991, the station disseminated an intelligence report indicating that President Serrano had dismissed Minister of Defense Mendoza due to Mendoza’s blocking of the investigations of several human rights cases, two of which involved US citizens. The source said these two cases were those involving Ortiz and DeVine. The new Minister of Defense, Garcia Samayoa, had promised to immediately advance the DeVine investigation.
In early April 1992, the station sent DO headquarters a cable reviewing Ortiz’s account of the incident, adding that the Guatemalan military did not take the incident seriously and believed that Guatemalan Catholic Church officials were using the incident for political purposes.
A DOD intelligence report stated that a U.S. person (presumably Ortiz) was in Guatemala in early April 1992 to make a deposition to the Guatemalan courts regarding her alleged kidnapping by Guatemalan police in 1989. A Guatemalan official was aware that people in Antigua, Guatemala had said that they had seen this US person meet alone with two men at a bridge and get into a police car. The location of one of the witnesses was also reportedly known.
In 1992, the station reported to DO headquarters that a source had stated that two guerrillas, captured two days before Sister Ortiz left Huehuetenango, had told the army that they had been waiting for Sister Ortiz to bring them food and ammunition.
In mid-February 1994, the station disseminated an intelligence report from a source who stated that the old Guatemalan Military Academy could not possibly have been the location where Ortiz was held and tortured as she had said. The source said the D-2 had moved out of that building in early 1985 and had completely dismantled all of its detention cells at that time.
In early November 1994, a source told the station about a foreign journalist who had reportedly stated during one of Ortiz’s later visits to Guatemala that he had learned from a URNG source that the Ortiz story was fabricated and had been intended to provoke an end to US funding for the Guatemalan security services. The source could remember no details concerning the journalist’s identity, however. The station added that it too had doubts about the Ortiz story, but it did not disseminate this report beyond DO headquarters.
In early November 1994, the station disseminated a report from a source who stated that the D-2 headquarters had been at the old Guatemalan Military Academy from 1978 to 1984, and that there were D-2 holding cells there then, but that these cells were dismantled when the D-2 moved out in 1984. (The source did say, however, that from about 1984 to July 1994, the D-2 had holding cells near the Mobile Military Police (PMA) compound in Zone 6 of Guatemala City.) The station commented that this inconsistency in Sister Ortiz’s story was viewed by Guatemalans as proof that her claims were fabricated.
Based on our inquiry to date, the IOB believes that Sister Ortiz was subjected to horrific abuse on November 2, l989, but US intelligence reports provide little insight into the details of her plight. Because the Department of Justice is still conducting an extensive reinvestigation of the incident, we do not draw any conclusions on the case at this time.
Provision of intelligence to Sister Ortiz:
Prior to the IOB review, no intelligence on the incident was provided to Sister Ortiz by the US government. On May l0, 1996, pursuant to White House authorization, Sister Ortiz was given declassified versions or summaries of the ten intelligence reports the IOB identified during its review as shedding light on the facts and circumstances of her case. None of this intelligence, however, offers any reliable insight into the matter, and none addresses the identity of “Alejandro.”
Nicholas Blake and Griffith Davis
Nicholas Blake was a US citizen and free-lance journalist visiting Guatemala, and Griffith Davis was an expatriate US photographer living in Guatemala. They both disappeared in late March I985 while trying to find guerrillas to interview. The two men were presumed to have been killed by the guerrillas until September 1987, when a local school teacher claimed that they had been killed by members of the Civil Defense Patrol (PAC)–a community-based paramilitary force loosely controlled by the army. The teacher later said the army knew that the PAC had detained the two men and had been involved in a cover-up of the PAC’s role in their disappearance. In May and June 1992, a regional PAC commander helped the families recover the men’s remains.
Significant intelligence bearing on the Blake/Davis case:
Between April 1985 and June 1985, there were twelve separate DOD intelligence reports that related to the disappearance of Nicholas Blake and Griffith Davis. These reports indicated that a coordinated search was being conducted by the military patrols and checkpoints, but with little progress. By mid-April, the military began to conclude that Blake and Davis had indeed found the guerrillas and were either still interviewing them or had been killed by them. The guerrillas claimed, however, that the military was afraid that the PAC may have killed the two Americans. (Other DOD intelligence reports continued, however, to convey the Guatemalan military’s stated belief that the two Americans were with the guerrillas.)
In May 1985, the station reported that relatives of the missing US citizens and an embassy officer had visited the commander of the Quiche military zone to inquire about the search for Blake and Davis. Despite persistent efforts, no additional information had turned up on the two Americans’ whereabouts.
A DOD intelligence report stated that, approximately a year after the disappearance of Blake and Davis, several U.S. reporters had attempted to uncover more information about their disappearance. A Guatemalan military commander was reported to have become concerned about possible negative publicity and to have speculated that the two men could have been killed by insurgents who believed all US and European journalists are really CIA agents. The two journalists were last seen by the villagers of Las Majadas as they left for the village of Palob. The reporters, however, reportedly believed the journalists were killed by Civil Defense Forces for their valuables.
A DOD intelligence report suggested that in early September 1992 a Guatemalan military officer had become concerned that contradictory reports regarding his whereabouts during the 1985 murders of the two US citizens in the E1 Quiche area might wrongly link him to the murders.
We have little doubt that Nicholas Blake and Griffith Davis were killed by the Civil Defense Patrol. It is possible that army officials subsequently learned the truth of the PAC’s involvement and engaged in a cover-up, but intelligence provides no evidence of this, nor of any army involvement in or prior knowledge of the killings.
Provision of intelligence to the Blake and Davis families:
The US embassy in Guatemala made vigorous efforts to find Blake and Davis when they disappeared in 1985, and later helped to locate their remains in 1992. The embassy did not provide any intelligence-based information to the families, but none of the intelligence available indicated what had happened or who had been involved.
In April 1993, the Blake family submitted a Freedom of Information Act request to NSA for all documents related to the death of Nicholas Blake. NSA’s initial response was that it had found no relevant NSA-generated documents. NSA had not, however, searched the database that contains NSA-generated intelligence. After an appeal, NSA conducted a second search, which included that database; NSA then responded that it had uncovered six relevant documents. The broader search conducted in connection with our review, however, identified an additional sixteen documents that were relevant, though none of these additional documents identified who killed Nicholas Blake or whether the Guatemalan army had been involved. In December 1995, NSA informed the Blake family of the correct number of relevant reports.
Peter Wolfe was a US citizen and Peace Corps volunteer who was shot to death near his home in Guatemala City early in the morning of October 28, 1984. A witness later identified Boris Rene Acosta Diaz as the killer. Acosta was arrested, initially confessed that he had committed the murder as part of a robbery, and then claimed on national television that he had killed Wolfe in self-defense. In his televised confession, Acosta also implicated Julio Cesar Gramajo Castillo. By the time of the trial, however, Acosta had recanted, both he and Gramajo had produced alibis, and the principal witness had disappeared–all of which led the judge to release both suspects. The Peace Corps office in Guatemala received an anonymous letter and an anonymous visitor in the year after the murder, both claiming that the military had intimidated witnesses to the killing. The office also learned that Gramajo was related to two Guatemalan Supreme Court magistrates and was apparently also a distant relative of Colonel Hector Gramajo, who later became the Minister of Defense. Additionally, Acosta was reported by one anonymous source to be the godson of the chief of D-2. After strong intervention by the US embassy, a new arrest order was issued for both suspects, but neither man was ever re-apprehended. According to a Guatemalan death notice, Acosta died in a motorcycle accident on April 5, 1987.
Significant intelligence bearing on the Wolfe case:
We found no significant intelligence bearing on the murder of Peter Wolfe.
The absence of any meaningful intelligence on this case does not permit us to reach firm conclusions, but we see no reason to doubt the implication from publicly available information indicating that Boris Acosta in the company of Julio Gramajo killed Peter Wolfe. The Guatemalan judiciary’s handling of the case and the reported intimidation of witnesses do appear to demonstrate that the government wished to shield Acosta and Gramajo from prosecution.
Provision of intelligence to the Wolfe family:
We know of no intelligence-based information that sheds any light on this case.
Janey Skinner and Jennifer Roitman
Janey Skinner and Jennifer Roitman were US volunteers working in Guatemala with the human rights groups Peace Brigades International and the Mutual Support Group for Families of the Disappeared (GAM). On August 15, 1989, explosives were thrown at the GAM headquarters building, and minutes later two grenades were thrown at the building that housed the Peace Brigades office and residence. There were no injuries in either incident.
Significant intelligence bearing on the Skinner and Roitman cases:
In August I989, DOD disseminated an intelligence report stating that the “Special Operations” section of the D-2 was reportedly responsible for the grenade attacks against the Peace Brigades and GAM headquarters.
According to a DOD intelligence report, communications problems in the aftermath of the September 1989 attack on the Peace Brigade Headquarters alerted foreign organizations to the unreliability of the phone system and to the possibility of intentional interference.
A DOD intelligence report indicated that in September 1989, Guatemalan security forces were conducting intense investigations of recent terrorist acts and had made it known that there were enough suspects to enable new arrests in the near future. This news had a significant impact on public opinion, producing a general feeling of relief, even though the alleged right-wing kingpin, Leonel Sisniega Otero, had escaped capture. All the recent grenade attacks had been generally attributed to Sisniega’s group, including those against the GAM, the Peace Brigades, and a US-owned hotel. Another DOD intelligence report stated that in the autumn of 1989, Second Captain Rodolfo Leonel Sisniega Otero Cordero, the son of Leonel Sisniega, had been sent to a post in Venezuela until the situation concerning his father had been cleared up. According to the report, his father was apparently implicated in recent terrorist activity in Guatemala City, including grenade-throwing incidents.
Neither the intelligence suggesting D-2 complicity nor that suggesting unofficial rightwing responsibility is sufficient to enable the IOB to conclude who perpetrated the attacks on GAM and the Peace Brigades.
Provision of intelligence to Janey Skinner and Jennifer Roitman:
No intelligence-based information was provided to Janey Skinner or Jennifer Roitman, but we do not believe any of the available intelligence was reliable enough that it should have been provided.
Meredith Larson, a US citizen, was working in Guatemala as a member of Peace Brigades International, an international human rights organization. On December 20, 1989, while walking to her residence with two colleagues, she and the others were stabbed by two men. The attackers said nothing and did not attempt to rob the victims. Members of the Peace Brigades had received death threats in May 1989, and their residence had been the target of the August 15 grenade attack described above. Meredith Larson was hospitalized in Guatemala and left for the United States on December 28, 1989. The US ambassador lodged a protest with senior Guatemalan government officials, but no suspects were ever charged.
Significant intelligence bearing on the Meredith Larson case:
We did not find any significant intelligence bearing on the attack upon Meredith Larson. The only reference to the assault was in a DOD intelligence report that cited the attack as one of several recent incidents of violence. Intelligence relating to the earlier grenade attack on the Peace Brigades is described in the section above concerning Janey Skinner and Jennifer Roitman.
The circumstances of the attack upon Meredith Larson suggest that it was carried out either by the Guatemalan security services or by unofficial right-wing elements. Given the absence of intelligence on the attack, however, we have no basis from which to draw any further conclusions.
Provision of intelligence to Meredith Larson:
No intelligence-based information was shared with Meredith Larson. In July 1995, she submitted a request under the Freedom of Information Act for any documents referring to the attack upon her, the threats and grenade attack against the Peace Brigades, or her visits to Guatemala in 1994 with Jennifer Harbury. NSA responded in October 1995 that it had found only one responsive NSA-originated record, which concerned the Peace Brigades portion of her request. In the course of our review, the IOB learned of three more NSA-originated reports referring to the grenade attack on the Peace Brigades, and one containing a passing reference to the December 1990 stabbing attack. These reports were apparently not uncovered in the NSA’s FOIA search. None of these reports, however, provide reliable insight into the attacks on Meredith Larson or on the Peace Brigades headquarters.
Josh Zinner, a US citizen, was a social worker assisting homeless children in Guatemala City when he reported that he and a co-worker were assaulted on January 18, 1990 by gunmen who attempted to force them into a car. The Guatemalan police reportedly intervened, but released the assailants, who were said to have displayed military identification. The police then allegedly detained Zinner and his co-worker, drove them around in a police car, and threatened them, before eventually releasing them.
Significant intelligence bearing on the Josh Zinner case:
We did not find any intelligence bearing on the attack on Josh Zinner.
Although the assault appears to have been carried out by members of the Guatemalan military (either under orders or on their own), or possibly by right-wing extremists with false identification, we have no special insight as to who was responsible.
Provision of intelligence to Josh Zinner:
We know of no intelligence that sheds any light on the case.
Peter Tiscione, an American citizen, was an archaeologist conducting field research on Mayan pottery in Guatemala in August 1992. On the morning of August 22, Tiscione contacted the embassy duty officer and told her that he feared being detained by the authorities when he tried to leave Guatemala the next day as planned. He also said that he had run out of his anti-depressant medication and was suffering “withdrawal and cosmic doubts.” Tiscione had also reportedly tried to visit the US embassy. When the duty officer talked to him later in the afternoon, after receiving a call from Mrs. Tiscione in the United States, Peter Tiscione stated that he had suffered a reaction but was feeling better and declined the duty officer’s offer to help him get more medication. When Tiscione spoke to his wife in the evening, however, he again expressed concern for his safety. After he failed to answer his wife’s phone call later that night, Mrs. Tiscione asked the night clerk to check his room, at which time the clerk found Tiscione’s fully clothed body in his bathtub with machete wounds to the neck.
The Guatemalan police ruled the death a suicide. The only door to Tiscione’s room had been chained closed from the inside; the two closed windows were too small for anyone to enter; there was no sign of a struggle; the only finger prints on the machete were Tiscione’s; and a receipt for the machete’s purchase was found among Tiscione’s possessions. A US Department of Justice official and a consultant who had previously been Costa Rica’s chief medical examiner reviewed the Guatemalan police investigation and agreed that the death appeared to be a suicide.
Significant intelligence bearing on the Tiscione case:
We did not find any intelligence bearing on Peter Tiscione’s death.
The evidence surrounding his death leads us to believe that it was, as initially concluded, a suicide.
Provision of intelligence to the Tiscione family:
We found no intelligence-based information that could have been provided to shed light on the case.
Melissa Larsen and June Weinstock
On March 8, l994, Melissa Larsen, a tourist from the United States, was chased by a mob of villagers in Santa Lucia Cotzumalguapa, Guatemala, who apparently believed that she was engaged in baby stealing. Larsen was taken from the town by the police and held for two weeks in protective custody before being released. The Guatemalan Human Rights Ombudsman concluded that the riot had been encouraged by outside agitators, and several townspeople reportedly said they had been warned about impending violence.
On March 29, 1994, June Weinstock, another tourist from the United States, was stoned, stabbed, and beaten to unconsciousness in the town of San Cristobal by a mob of Guatemalans who falsely accused her too of child stealing. Weinstock fled the mob and found refuge in the local courthouse until a group of striking and apparently intoxicated highway workers arrived on the scene and led an assault on the building. In the assault, Weinstock suffered brain damage and has still not recovered all of her faculties. As the situation developed, US embassy, defense attache, and station officers exhorted their Guatemalan counterparts to act quickly to defuse the crisis. Soldiers were dispatched, but because of a series of delays, they arrived too late to help.
The Guatemalan mobs in both incidents were responding to a malicious rumor that US citizens stole Guatemalan children in order to sell their body parts for US transplant operations. The rumor had apparently surfaced in Honduras in 1987 and was soon repeated throughout the region, partly through a propaganda campaign directed against the United States by the Soviet Union and its allies, including the Guatemalan insurgents. This rumor received renewed publicity in Guatemala in November 1993 after an irresponsible British and Canadian television broadcast, which was followed by equally inaccurate and unhelpful comments by a Guatemalan official. In an apparently coordinated campaign, graffiti appeared overnight in many parts of Guatemala City denouncing American “gringo baby stealers.”
Significant intelligence bearing on the Larsen and Weinstock cases:
A DOD intelligence report in April 1994 mentioned the attack on a US citizen in San Cristobal in the midst of rumors that US citizens were kidnapping children to use their organs in transplants. The report noted that this rumor had, as perhaps intended, put the US embassy on the defensive by forcing it to issue statements denying these allegations. The rumor was also reported to have created conditions which made the work of international observers of the Human Rights Agreement difficult.
In April 1994, DOD disseminated a report that the Guatemalan minister of defense had stated that he believed the attack on June Weinstock to have been part of a joint effort by the guerrillas and the Public Workers Union to destabilize the government of Guatemala.
The other US intelligence reports that mentioned the Weinstock incident discussed the Guatemalan government’s fear of a US travel advisory or relayed updates on Guatemalan government investigations of the attack. The account provided through these investigations largely mirrored publicly known information. There was also, however, a suggestion that some of the striking highway workers may have had a personal interest in the destruction of court files that occurred during the riot.
The mobs that attacked Melissa Larsen and June Weinstock were motivated by the false rumor of kidnapping for body parts. We do not know why the false rumor resurfaced in the Guatemalan press in 1994, but we do not dismiss the possibility that it was raised by elements opposed to the De Leon government and to US policy.
Provision of intelligence to Melissa Larsen and the Weinstock family:
We know of no intelligence on these cases that offers significant insight into the attacks.
Daniel “Sky” Callahan, a US citizen, was filming a documentary in Guatemala City for a human rights organization when on July 4, 1995, a soldier hit his legs with a baton or rifle butt while he was filming. On July 7, Callahan was forced into a car, beaten, and threatened with additional harm if he did not leave Guatemala. One of his attackers also made reference to the July 4 attack. Callahan returned to the United States for medical treatment on July 10, 1995. The Department of Justice is currently investigating the Callahan case to determine whether it falls under US jurisdiction.
Significant intelligence bearing on the Callahan case:
The station made inquiries, but it learned no new information about what had happened to Callahan.
In July I995, DOD disseminated an intelligence report recounting the allegation that the abduction of Callahan did not result from army policy, but that it was possibly perpetrated by “off duty” army elements operating without the knowledge of the senior leadership. Another DOD report related a claim that although soldiers may have “nudged” Callahan on July 4 and off-duty army personnel may have been involved in his later abduction, the army as an institution was not implicated and was anxious to bring the Callahan case to a swift conclusion.
In late July 1995, a DOD intelligence report indicated that Guatemalan military officials wanted to show the US that they were actively investigating alleged attacks by Guatemalan soldiers on a US citizen on July 4 and 7, 1995. The officials believed it important for Guatemala to demonstrate to the US that it was interested in resolving the case. One military official reportedly suspected that the assailant in the first attack may have been an off duty soldier working as a bank guard near the scene. The officials seemed, however, to have no evidence that the military was involved in the second attack, and noted that the police sketch of one of the assailants did not look like a Guatemalan soldier.
The circumstances of the abduction lead us to believe that it was conducted either by military (either under orders or on their own) or by right-wing elements, but we found no intelligence reports that provide greater insight.
Provision of intelligence to Daniel Callahan:
No intelligence-based information has been provided to Callahan, but none provides reliable insight as to the perpetrators of the abduction.
APPENDIX A: INTELLIGENCE BEARING ON THE MURDER OF MICHAEL DEVINE
In late June 1990, the Department of Defense (DOD) disseminated a report suggesting that the army “definitely” did not kill DeVine. The report also indicated that the army had issued orders to find out promptly who had committed the murder, which may have been connected to robbery. DOD cautioned that this report “was anything but a definitive report” but was optimistic that the army’s vigorous investigation to clear itself would produce the killers.
In August 1990, the station disseminated its first intelligence report on the murder from a source who reported that Colonel Garcia Catalan, the military zone commander, had ordered the surveillance of DeVine and that it was carried out by five enlisted men. The source added that the Ministry of Defense was engaged in a cover-up, including the destruction of a white Toyota pickup used to conduct the surveillance of DeVine. (By the time of this report, the embassy, because of Carl West’s investigation, already strongly suspected that members of the army killed DeVine.)
Also in August 1990, the station disseminated an intelligence report from a source who reported that President Cerezo, under pressure from the US ambassador, had ordered a proper investigation by the Ministry of Defense. The source also stated that rumors that DeVine had been somehow involved with the guerrillas were apparently unfounded and perhaps part of the military cover-up.
In September 1990, DOD disseminated an intelligence report which suggested that DeVine may have been killed by soldiers from Military Zone 23. It had been rumored that DeVine had been providing support to the guerrillas, but this report speculated that the murder had not been officially ordered. By another account related in this report, the Ministry of Defense was blocking any investigation and had already executed the killers.
Later in September 1990, DOD disseminated an intelligence report suggesting that President Cerezo and the military high command intended to placate the U.S. embassy as much as possible on the DeVine case, but did not really expect to bring the case to any particular conclusion.
Another DOD report disseminated in September 1990 provided an account of the investigation being carried out by the new commander of Military Zone 23, Colonel Ortega.
In October 1990, the station learned from a source that five army suspects had been arrested, and that although they had not been ordered to kill DeVine, they had been ordered to surveil him in order to recover one or two missing Galil rifles believed to be in his possession. The source opined that the soldiers had gotten into an altercation with DeVine and went too far. The source repeated these findings to the station again in October. In that second cable the station also stated that it had been told that DeVine drank heavily and practiced his karate moves on troops from the Poptun base beating them senseless, though the station had not verified this.
In mid-October 1990, DOD disseminated an intelligence report claiming that several soldiers had been charged with DeVine’s killing as a result of US embassy pressure, but that those charged were not believed to be guilty. The report said that the assistant G-2 of Military Zone 23, Second Captain Santos Bohr Avendano, had been in charge of the operation, and that another officer may also have been involved. It also reported that the motive for the killing remained unclear, but DeVine was said to have been involved in providing logistical support to the insurgents and possibly in arms smuggling. This DOD report also referred to an anonymous phone call to the embassy that fingered Captain Bohr as the officer on the scene.
In December 1990, the station disseminated an intelligence report from a source who stated that he believed that Captain Bohr Avendano and all but perhaps one of the arrested soldiers were innocent, and that those who had killed DeVine had not acted under official orders. (All but one of the soldiers in fact appear to have been innocent, and in February 1991 they identified the soldiers who were eventually convicted.) The source also reported that the Minister of Defense, against the advice of the Army Chief of Staff, was an obstacle to pursuing a proper investigation. (This intelligence contributed to the US ambassador’s recommendation that almost all military aid to Guatemala be suspended; the suspension was implemented almost immediately.)
In late December 1990, DOD disseminated an intelligence report saying that DeVine had reportedly tried illegally to buy two army rifles for 1,000 quetzales. Soldiers from the military zone G-2 section reportedly were attempting to bring him in for questioning when he punched one of them in the face; the soldiers then knocked DeVine to the ground and killed him. By this account, the zone commander had not ordered a murder, but certainly knew about the events. The report said the army recovered the two rifles but did not say from whom. It also recounted the rumor that DeVine’s killers had been executed by the army, but that the other soldiers who had been charged for the crime might be convicted anyway.
In early January 1991, DOD disseminated an intelligence report recounting that at the time he was killed, DeVine was being investigated for providing medical supplies and food to the guerrillas. The report stated that the zone commander knew of the investigation–and became part of the cover-up–but that he had not intended that DeVine be killed.
In April 1991, the station disseminated an intelligence report with a source’s information that the soldiers had killed DeVine while interrogating him about a missing Galil rifle. The military zone had heard that the rifle had been sold by a deserter to DeVine, and the D-2 had instructed the military zone commander, Colonel Garcia Catalan, to recover it. One of Colonel Garcia’s subordinates, Captain Contreras, had sent a group of four sergeants and eight soldiers on the mission. When DeVine either did not know anything or refused to talk, one of the sergeants killed him with a machete. Contreras was now being criticized for having failed to supervise the enlisted men. Many officers reportedly believed that Contreras, who was known for his temper and abuse of soldiers, probably frightened the soldiers into taking extreme actions out of a fear that they would be severely punished if the rifle were not recovered.
Also in April 1991, the station obtained a copy of a report relating to the De Vine case. It included a personality profile of DeVine, which was generally positive, but noted a sometimes aggressive manner and a readiness to denounce people involved in narcotics trafficking. It recounted various claims or rumors that provided possible motives for the killing: that DeVine was an army informant, that he had denounced drug traffickers, that he was a victim of guerrilla extortion, that he was killed by persons who wanted to acquire his property, that he had personal problems with two army deserters, and that it was revenge by someone DeVine had shot years before. The station noted that the report contained nothing that directly incriminated the army (whose involvement was by then well-established) and did not disseminate the information in the report as intelligence.
In May 1991, the station disseminated an intelligence report recounting that a source stated that President Serrano apparently blamed the chief of the D-2 for blocking the investigation. The source stated that the D-2 chief was indirectly responsible for DeVine’s death since he had ordered that a missing rifle be recovered–and directly responsible for the subsequent cover-up–but that there was no evidence that he had intended harm to DeVine.
Also in May 1991, the station disseminated an intelligence report from a source stating that Captain Contreras and five sergeants had been arrested in the DeVine case. Contreras was identified as having issued the order to stage the operation, although he did not accompany the men, but the source was not certain if the order was to kill DeVine or to just “teach him a lesson.” Colonel Garcia Catalan was reportedly not in Peten at the time and neither involved in nor aware of the operation. Contreras’ immediate supervisor, Major Paiz, was also reportedly uninvolved. The source said that preliminary investigative findings indicated that Colonel Portillo Gomez had been aware that some operation was planned against DeVine, but it was not yet known if he was more deeply involved.
In late May 1991, DOD disseminated an intelligence report in which Colonel Portillo was described as being very concerned at being reported in the press as having been involved in the DeVine killing. He reportedly maintains that he was not in the area at the time and that he is being framed.
In early June 1991, DOD disseminated an intelligence report with a claim that Colonel Portillo was being used as a scapegoat for the DeVine murder and that it may have been Colonel Garcia Catalan who was actually involved.
In June 1991, the station disseminated an intelligence report from multiple sources that the Minister of Defense was attacking the D-2 for doing more work for US intelligence agencies than for the Guatemalan defense ministry. The minister was reportedly likely to replace the chief of the D-2 for this, and because he believed the D-2 had informed the US government that Guatemalan soldiers had killed DeVine.
In July 1991, the station disseminated an intelligence report from a source who stated that Colonel Portillo, who had been alleged to have been in temporary command of Military Zone 23 at the time of the murder, had not in fact been in command of this area. The source also said that it was apparently common knowledge that there was some kind of personal or business relationship between Colonel Garcia Catalan and DeVine.
In August 1991, the station disseminated an intelligence report that a source believed the killing was the result of the enlisted soldiers carrying out their mission in an inappropriately hostile manner and that there was no evidence that DeVine was involved in any significant illegal activity other than occasionally smoking marijuana. The source stated that Colonel Portillo knew nothing until after the killing. The source stated that senior army officers were covering up army involvement because they felt that if they admitted involvement, the US government would react angrily, which would hurt the army’s image, provide propaganda to the insurgents, and jeopardize military aid. According to the source, the case had become so charged with nationalism that the army could not see a way to back away from its actions without an enormous loss of prestige.
In October 1991, the station disseminated an intelligence report from a source stating that Colonel Alpirez, who commanded the Kaibil training base near DeVine’s farm, had been present when DeVine died during interrogation conducted by Captain Contreras at the base. Colonel Garcia Catalan had reportedly ordered Contreras to recover a missing rifle. The report also indicated that Alpirez was an extremely violent man and had exhibited bizarre behavior. (The CIA passed the information to the Department of Justice to determine if the crime fell under US jurisdiction. The handling of that crimes report by the CIA and DOJ was described earlier in this report.)
In December 1991, the station disseminated two intelligence reports from sources stating that President Serrano had relieved Minister of Defense Mendoza at least in part for his obstruction of the investigation in the DeVine case (as well as the Ortiz case). The new Minister of Defense, Garcia Samayoa, had promised to immediately advance the DeVine investigation.
In April l992, the station learned from a source a view that the military should allow some of the military officials implicated in “less significant” human rights cases to be prosecuted in order to end the army’s reputation for covering-up to protect its own. The DeVine case was reportedly cited as an example of a “less significant” case. This information was not disseminated beyond the CIA.
In early May 1993, DOD disseminated a report recounting that Colonel Garcia Catalan may have given “the order” in the DeVine case. (It was not clear, however, what “the order” actually meant.)
In late May 1993, the station reported that a source claimed that Contreras had been heard to say that he had picked up DeVine, had informed the armed forces general staff “through channels” that he had DeVine in custody, and asked for instructions. Contreras had then reportedly been instructed to “do whatever it takes to resolve the situation.” The source explained that “the situation” meant recovering the missing rifle, and that “through channels” meant that he had advised the general staff of DeVine’s apprehension and had received this response through D-2 channels. The source believed that the order must have come from the general staff.
In late May 1993, DOD disseminated a report claiming that Contreras had been sighted in north central Honduras.
In February 1995, DOD disseminated an intelligence report indicating that Contreras may have been hiding in Venezuela. A March 1995 report from the DOD corroborated this. In April l995, the DOD disseminated a report of rumors that Contreras had returned to Guatemala from Venezuela and that the D-2 had put out an order for his death.
In April 1995, DOD disseminated an intelligence report in which it was suggested that Lieutenant Colonel Felipe Alfonso Ochoa Montero, the assistant director of the D-2 under Colonel Ortega (who was abroad at the time), may have ordered Contreras to kill DeVine. The report also related that Colonels Garcia Catalan, Portillo, and Alpirez were reportedly not aware of the order (though all three had participated in the cover-up). The DOD report also said that Ochoa was reported to have since died of cancer. (This report appears to be of dubious credibility in that in June 1990 neither Ortega nor Ochoa was in the D-2, and Ochoa was not in Contreras’ chain of command.)
In April 1995, DOD disseminated an intelligence report that included the allegation that Colonel Garcia Catalan had sent Captain Contreras and two or three soldiers to investigate reports that DeVine was involved in arms and narcotics trafficking. According to the report, DeVine was murdered by one of the soldiers who wanted to rob him during the interrogation.
In early May 1995, DOD disseminated a report which said that Alpirez had an audio tape that proves that he had no prior knowledge of the DeVine murder, that he had been ordered to participate in the cover-up, and that former ministers of defense had been involved in the cover-up. The report recounted one individual’s belief that Colonel Cabrera, chief of D-2 at the time, had ordered the interrogation of DeVine. Knowledge of the existence of Alpirez’ tape was reportedly becoming increasingly widespread, and Alpirez had been heard to say that it would be made public should anything happen to him.
In May 1995, the station disseminated an intelligence report from a source who stated that he believed that the Ministry of Defense was using Colonels Alpirez and Garcia Catalan as scapegoats to protect more senior retired officers. The source did not believe Alpirez knew about the killing until after the fact and felt Alpirez had participated in the cover-up only on orders. The source also recounted that Contreras had reportedly claimed not to have killed DeVine, but said that an enlisted soldier had done so.
In May 1995, the station disseminated an intelligence report from a source recounting that the Guatemalan government would probably postpone investigation of the cover-up of the DeVine murder at least until after the conclusion of a peace accord with the insurgents, since some 20 military officials were suspected to have been involved and an investigation would cause chaos in the military.
In May 1995, the station disseminated an intelligence report from a source who said that he had heard that Alpirez had nothing to do with the murder of DeVine and that he had refused to allow the interrogation team onto his base. According to the source, the team then went to a local drinking establishment and Alpirez had no prior knowledge of their intent to apprehend and interrogate DeVine. The source had also heard that Alpirez was unhappy about DeVine s death because he had known Mrs. DeVine from visits to the DeVine restaurant. The source speculated that Alpirez would not have been in the military zone chain of command at the time of DeVine’s death.
In June 1995, the station reported to its headquarters that a source said that the army seemed to have proof that Alpirez was not involved in the death of DeVine–for example, that he was not in charge of the soldiers who killed DeVine. The source said that Alpirez could lose his life if he disclosed what he knows.
APPENDIX B: INTELLIGENCE BEARING ON THE FATE OF EFRAIN BAMACA
In March 1992, the station disseminated an intelligence report based on a source’s information that on March 12,1992, the Guatemalan army had captured “Everardo,” the commander of the Revolutionary Organization of the People in Arms (ORPA) Luis Ixmata Battalion, in an ambush near San Marcos. The source said that Everardo, although lightly wounded in the arm, was in good condition, being well treated by the army, and cooperating fully with his captors. According to the source, the news of Everardo’s capture had not been publicized and would probably be kept secret, or even concealed by a claim that he had been killed, in order to maximize his intelligence value. The source also stated that Everardo had told his captors that Cuba was providing training and weapons to his guerrillas, and that the latest weapons shipment had come six months earlier. (There was no mention in the report of Everardo s actual name, Efrain Bamaca Velasquez, and thus it apparently received no attention until the report was rediscovered in early November 1994.)
In April 1992, the station reported a source’s claim that ORPA leader “Comandante Everardo” had allegedly been recently killed in combat in Quiche.
In late May 1992, the Department of Defense (DOD) disseminated an intelligence report indicating that the Guatemalan government was concerned by the precedent set by the Human Rights Ombudsman’s office in filing a request directly with the courts rather than through the attorney general’s office to exhume a body at the request of a “Mr. Bamaca” whose son was believed to be buried in the grave. Twelve bodies were presumed to be in the grave.
In May 1993, the station learned from a source recounting the apparent accuracy of the stories being told by “Willy” and “Carlos” (escaped guerrillas Jaime Adalberto Augustin Recinos and Santiago Cabrera Lopez) regarding captured guerrillas being held in clandestine prison cells by the Guatemalan military, including their description of particular captured insurgents–including Bamaca. The source reported an allegation that Bamaca was alive, but he could neither confirm nor refute the allegation.
In September l993, DOD disseminated an intelligence report claiming that clandestine military prisons had “always” existed in Guatemala, and that guerrilla prisoners were commonly held incommunicado in isolated military zone locations, interrogated, and killed after the army had extracted all useful information from them. It was also reported that Bamaca had been held incommunicado, interrogated a number of times, and killed, and his body disposed of in an unidentified location.
In May 1994, the station disseminated an intelligence report that a source claimed that unidentified D-2 officers took Bamaca away shortly after his capture and that was the last the source had heard anything about Bamaca’s whereabouts or status. The source had also suggested that Bamaca was in good health at the time.
In June and August 1994, the station reported that it had heard that the escaped guerrillas’ testimony that they had seen Bamaca alive in a clandestine prison was fabricated in order to support the guerrillas’ propaganda objectives. Reportedly Bamaca had actually died shortly after being wounded and captured in the fire fight with the army.
In October 1994, the station disseminated an intelligence report from a source stating that Bamaca’s capture was viewed as a great success because Bamaca was the only important indigenous guerrilla leader–as opposed to those of mixed “Spanish-indigenous” descent–at the time. He also said that to the best of his knowledge Bamaca died of his wounds shortly after his capture.
In early November 1994, DOD disseminated an intelligence report saying that the army reportedly did not have Bamaca in custody and speculating that if the army knew where Bamaca was, whether dead or alive, it would turn him over to end the media attention. The report also described the practice by which the Guatemalan army reputedly interrogated captured guerrillas and then forced them to work for army intelligence or face summary execution.
In early November 1994, DOD disseminated an intelligence report saying that Bamaca had reportedly received a relatively minor wound in the arm in a firefight near Retalhuleu, was captured, and was interrogated at Retalhuleu and later at San Marcos. Because of Bamaca’s importance and because of his repeated attempts to escape, he was encased in a full body cast to prevent escape. The report indicated that Bamaca may have been questioned for about a month in San Marcos by military intelligence division officers, and talked freely about the guerrillas’ policies, personnel, and activities, but provided false information on arms caches. After the military intelligence division decided Bamaca was no longer of use, it issued an order that he be killed and sent a D-2 helicopter which took Bamaca away from San Marcos still alive. The report speculated that Bamaca had probably been dumped at sea, which may be why the government could not now produce the body. DOD had disseminated a report in April 1994 which suggested that in the mid-1980’s, the D-2 often dumped guerrillas from aircraft into the sea to eliminate evidence that prisoners had been tortured and killed.
In early November 1994, the station disseminated an intelligence report from a source who said that the description of Bamaca did not match that of the guerrilla killed in the firefight on March 12, 1992. The report recounted an observation that the army may have substituted another guerrilla’s body for that of Bamaca, who was apparently killed elsewhere to cover up evidence of torture.
Also in November 1994, the station disseminated an intelligence report from a source who said that Bamaca was dead and that Jennifer Harbury’s efforts to draw international attention would only bring condemnation on the Guatemalan government and strain relations between Guatemala and the international community.
In mid-November 1994, DOD heard that Bamaca had been interrogated in San Marcos principally by Majors Soto and Sosa. This report claimed that Bamaca was uncooperative and tried to escape and was, therefore, incapacitated in a full body cast.
In mid-November 1994, DOD disseminated a report indicating that Bamaca was dead and recounting an allegation that Bamaca’s remains were in a place that made them “impossible” to recover.
In mid-November 1994, the station disseminated an intelligence report indicating that the guerrillas apparently did not know what happened to Bamaca after March 12, 1992, but that they felt Bamaca could still be alive only if he had betrayed the guerrillas and cooperated with the army. In case Bamaca had cooperated and was still alive, it was reported that the guerrillas believed Jennifer Harbury’s demonstrations would force the army to kill Bamaca and thereby remove a threat to the URNG. They believed, however, that Bamaca was probably dead, and the report recounted that the URNG intelligence apparatus had been sending Harbury fabricated reports that Bamaca was alive in order to encourage her highly visible political activities against the Guatemalan government.
In mid-November 1994, the station disseminated an intelligence report from a source who had heard that Bamaca had surrendered without resistance, was turned over to the G-2 in San Marcos, and was held at San Marcos and Santa Ana Berlin, Quetzaltenango Department.
In late November 1994, the station heard from two sources who offered their views on Bamaca’s fate. One speculated that Bamaca may have died of his wounds while being interrogated.
In late November 1994, DOD disseminated an intelligence report recounting that it was believed that Bamaca had died of his wounds shortly after the firefight in March 1992.
In early December 1994, the station disseminated an intelligence report stating that a source said that Bamaca was captured unharmed or lightly wounded and may have been alive for four or five weeks. The source opined that he had probably been killed once he had outlived his usefulness. He also said that Bamaca’s high-level guerrilla rank was not discovered until after his death. The report also stated that Colonel Alpirez took charge of Bamaca’s interrogation.
In early December 1994, DOD disseminated an intelligence report stating that on March 12, 1992, Guatemalan journalists were shown the bodies of two guerrillas, one of whom they were told was Bamaca (who was described to them as only a platoon lieutenant, not a higher-level commander). After the journalists examined a diary taken from the body reported to be Bamaca’s and photographed the body, a civil judge came to record the deaths.
It appeared to be normal procedure for then-Human Rights Ombudsman De Leon both to receive all information about guerrillas captured by the army and to take custody of any guerrillas released after they agreed to give up their armed struggle. The DOD report commented that in light of all of the reports of Bamaca’s capture, at least one of these observers had probably been duped into thinking that a dead guerrilla was Bamaca.
In mid-December 1994, the station learned from a source that he had heard that Alpirez, Major Raul Oliva, and Colonel Leonel Godoy had “worked with” Bamaca after his capture. The source did not know if Bamaca was dead or alive but assured the station that Bamaca was not killed in San Marcos. The source also described a burial site for guerrillas killed in the attack on Bamaca’s column, but said that Bamaca was not buried there.
In mid-January I995, the station was informed by a source that he had heard that an official who had investigated the Bamaca case had found witnesses to Bamaca’s suicide. The information was passed only to the DO.
In late January 1995, the station disseminated a report from a source who said that he had been told that it was known within the senior ranks of the army that Alpirez had killed Bamaca.
In early February 1995, DOD disseminated a report saying that Alpirez had reportedly overseen the interrogation of Bamaca. The report did not recount any allegations about who had actually killed Bamaca, but expressed doubt that Alpirez would have personally done so.
In late February l995, the station disseminated an intelligence report stating that sources said the Guatemalan government had conducted three separate investigations of the Bamaca case and had decided that he died of his wounds soon after the firefight and that his identity was not discovered until one or two days later.
In early March 1995, DOD disseminated a report indicating that Bamaca had probably not been held at either of two Pacific naval bases in Guatemala.
In early March 1995, the station disseminated an intelligence report stating that the Minister of Defense had said that a body exhumed in the search for Bamaca’s remains (presumably in August 1993) was indeed Bamaca’s. Reportedly, the judge who had claimed otherwise had been paid to say so, but would soon testify in court that it had been Bamaca’s.
In mid-March l995, DOD disseminated an intelligence report which recounted that there was no body of Bamaca for the Guatemalans to produce. It gave no further details.
In March I995, the station disseminated an intelligence report from a source who said that, at the time of Bamaca’s capture, he was visited at San Marcos by senior officers. The source added that he believed the army would stick to its story that Bamaca died in the firefight.
In March 1995, DOD disseminated an intelligence report recounting rumors that Bamaca’s body had been thrown in to a river on an unknown date.
In early April 1995, DOD disseminated an intelligence report indicating that Bamaca had led soldiers to locate an arms cache on Santiaguito volcano in Military Zone 1715, where they were ambushed by guerrillas. The officer in charge, Lieutenant Colonel Jesus Aguirre, was reportedly wounded, and in his anger ordered Bamaca killed, possibly by being thrown into the active volcano. The report suggested that it would be easy to determine exactly when this occurred because Aguirre’s wounds were so severe that he traveled to Houston, Texas for treatment. It added that Aguirre had visited the United States in 1992 from March I8 to June 5, and from September 6 to September 30. The second trip was reportedly to Houston for unspecified medical reasons. (Escaped guerrilla Santiago Cabrera has stated that Aguirre had been wounded and left San Marcos before Bamaca’s capture and did not participate in his interrogations. A March 1992 station report corroborates that Aguirre was seriously wounded two weeks before Bamaca’s capture.)
In early April 1995, DOD disseminated an intelligence report indicating that Alpirez had been in command of an anti-guerrilla operation away from headquarters during the time Bamaca was captured. The DOD report noted, however, that in public testimony before the Attorney General, Alpirez had stated that his duties at the time were administrative, not operational.
In mid-April 1995, an internal DOD intelligence report indicated that Bamaca had reportedly been wounded in the shoulder during the March 12 firefight and had been taken to the Santa Ana Berlin military installation for treatment and interrogation. During this time Colonel Alpirez, from the San Marcos military zone, visited Santa Ana Berlin to follow the situation. Colonel Alpirez reportedly ordered that Bamaca be put in a full body cast to prevent his escape. Bamaca was then moved to several different places in Guatemala for interrogation and then eliminated. The report did not provide details on Bamaca’s death.
In April 1995, the station disseminated an intelligence report from a source who had heard that Bamaca was buried at the Cabanas army detachment, which was located in the village of Montanita on the Cabuz River. The source was unable to provide any other details on what had happened to Bamaca.
In early May 1995, DOD disseminated an intelligence report recounting that Bamaca was reportedly dead, but it gave no further details or the basis for this statement.
In May 1995, the station disseminated an intelligence report from a source who said he had heard that Alpirez was not involved in the death of Bamaca, but that Bamaca had been turned over to military intelligence in Guatemala City at some point after his capture.
In May 1995, the station reported to its headquarters that the embassy had informed it that Angel Nery Urizar Garcia–who claimed to have seen Bamaca alive at Santa Ana Berlin military detachment at some point in 1992 when Urizar was affiliated with the D-2 and posted to the region–was reportedly under the protection of Guatemalan human rights authorities and claimed to have been the subject of an assassination attempt. The station soon afterwards disseminated a report to its headquarters and to CIA analysts that a source had confirmed that Urizar was an enlisted man who worked for G-2 in the San Marcos region when Bamaca was captured. The source said that Urizar’s claim that the army had killed and buried a former guerrilla in Bamaca’s place appeared to be credible, as the army wanted to interrogate Bamaca but have the public believe he had been killed.
In June 1995, the station relayed to its headquarters a source’s report that Colonel Alpirez had Bamaca’s interrogation report, but the source had no specific information that Alpirez had killed Bamaca. He believed Alpirez was capable of it, but felt Alpirez would not have acted without orders.
In June 1995, the station disseminated an intelligence report that a source stated that there was a rumor circulating in the Guatemalan army that the search for Bamaca’s remains at the Cabanas detachment was futile because Bamaca’s body had been burned.
In July 1995, the station disseminated an intelligence report from a source who said that the Guatemalan government felt it unfortunate that Nery Urizar Garcia had claimed that the army had buried another guerrilla in Bamaca’s place. The source reported speculation that if Bamaca s body were not found at the gravesite (apparently at Las Cabanas), it was because the guerrillas had switched the body.
In early July 1995, DOD disseminated an intelligence report in which it was said that Colonel Alpirez had been heard to say to someone in the Solicitor General’s office that he had been the second commander of a combined task force made up of units from military zones 18 and 1715, which was under the command of Colonel Haroldo Antulio Ruano Del Cid and headquartered at Santa Ana Berlin. Alpirez reportedly stated that task force patrols had used Bamaca as a guide to lead them to hidden weapons caches and that one of these patrols, led by Major Jesus Efrain Aguirre Loarca, had been ambushed and Aguirre wounded. According to Alpirez, the decision was then made to eliminate Bamaca, but Colonel Ruano would not take responsibility for the decision, which was referred to Colonel Harry Ponce, the Military Zone 18 commander, who referred it to the D-2 in Guatemala City. Colonel Otto Perez Molina, the D-2 director, reportedly then flew to Santa Ana Berlin with Colonel Hector Mario Barrios Celada to pick up Bamaca in a helicopter piloted by Captain Erwin Sosa Lara. Alpirez allegedly did not know where Bamaca’s body was located. The DOD report noted that Colonel Ruano was assigned at the time as the deputy director of a military high school; such an assignment would make it unusual for him to have commanded an operational task force.
In early July 1995, DOD disseminated an intelligence report recounting that President Serrano had been told that Bamaca’s remains were not at Las Cabanas military detachment, where Jennifer Harbury was seeking an exhumation–but that there were clandestine cemeteries in that general area with the bodies of other victims.
In July 1995, the station disseminated an intelligence report that a source stated that some Guatemalan officials felt that the government should use legal maneuvers to obstruct the grave excavation at Cabanas military detachment. They feared that an exhumation there would indeed unearth guerrilla remains and lead to calls for exhumations elsewhere. In early August l995, DOD disseminated an intelligence report recounting speculation that Colonel Alpirez may know exactly who killed Bamaca and when and how–and that he may be holding this information as his “ace in the hole.”
In late February 1996, DOD disseminated an intelligence report stating that the Guatemalan government had obtained declassified CIA documents relating to Bamaca’s capture. These documents made no mention of Major Sosa Orellana, who had reportedly ordered the murder of another insurgent who was then passed off as that of Bamaca.
In late March 1996, DOD disseminated a new account of Bamaca’s fate from a March 1996 letter to the embassy purportedly from “PREGUA,” allegedly a group of disaffected army officers. According to this account, Bamaca was captured and interrogated over the course of a year in various military zones and in Guatemala City with the knowledge of the leadership of the Guatemalan army and numerous army officers identified by name. The letter stated that the recent allegation that another guerrilla was killed and buried in Bamaca’s place was true. Reportedly after the efforts of Bamaca’s wife focused greater attention on the Bamaca case, President Serrano, Minister of Government Perdomo, Minister of Defense Garcia Samayoa, Army Chief of Staff Perussina Rivera, Chief of the Presidential Military Staff Ortega Menaldo, and D-2 chief Colonel Perez Molina met to consider the situation. Although all participants except Colonel Perez Molina supported releasing Bamaca, it was allegedly decided that Colonel Perez Molina would take care of the problem. According to the account, Colonel Perez then ordered his subordinates to kill Bamaca, and the order was carried out by D-2 enlisted men near Guatemala’s southern coast, with Bamaca’s body being buried or burned in a sugar cane field. The DOD report commented that many of the persons named in the letter were indeed at the relevant time in the positions that were asserted in the letter, but that the letter appeared to have been written by different authors than an earlier letter purportedly from the same group, and that it appeared unlikely that such a high level group would have deferred to Colonel Perez Molina on what to do with Bamaca. The report also noted that although the document listed 25 officers who were aware of or involved in Bamaca’s interrogation, it did not include two officers who have been included in many other accounts–Colonel Alpirez and Lieutenant Colonel Soto Bilbao.
In late April 1996, DOD disseminated an intelligence reporting a belief that the sort of high-level meeting to decide Bamaca’s fate alleged by the ‘PREGUA” letter could have occurred. The report also recounted speculation that three likely candidates as the author of the letter were Colonel Alfredo Merida Gonzalez (a former D-2 chief known to have written anonymous letters before) and Colonel Alpirez and Lieutenant Colonel Juan Gillermo Oliva Carrera (both of whom had been mentioned in earlier accounts of the case but were completely absent from the PREGUA letter).
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