United States Assistance to Countries that Shoot Down Civil Aircraft Involved in Drug Trafficking: Memorandum for Jamie S. Gorelick, Deputy Attorney General [July 14, 1994]   [open pdf - 71KB]

"The Aircraft Sabotage Act of 1984 applies to the police and military personnel of foreign governments. In particular, the Act applies to the use of deadly force by such foreign governmental actors against civil aircraft in flight that are suspected of transporting illegal drugs. There is accordingly a substantial risk that United States Government officers and employees who provide flight tracking information or certain other forms of assistance to the aerial interdiction programs of foreign governments that have destroyed such aircraft, or that have announced an intent to do so, would be aiding and abetting conduct that violated the Act. This memorandum summarizes our earlier advice concerning whether and in what circumstances United States Government (USG) officers and employees may lawfully provide flight tracking information and other forms of technical assistance to the Republics of Colombia and Peru. The information and other assistance at issue have been provided to the aerial interdiction programs of those two countries for the purpose of enabling them to locate and intercept aircraft suspected of engaging in illegal drug trafficking. Concern over the in-flight destruction of civil aircraft as a component of the counternarcotics programs of foreign governments is not novel. In 1990, soon after the inception of the USG assistance program, the United States made an oral démarche to the Colombian government informing that government that Colombian use of USG intelligence information to effect shootdowns could result in the suspension of that assistance."

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