Posted by: Paula Delgado-Kling | December 26, 2013

For four years, CIA maintained control of GPS encryption on smart bombs launched against FARC in Colombia.

The Washington Post reported a covert CIA program helped Colombia’s government kill at least two dozen FARC leaders.

Official news of the covert operation did not surprise me.

But this did:

Back in 2006 and 2007, some senior officials worried that Colombian forces might use smart bombs (Enhanced Paveway II or PGMs, a relatively inexpensive guidance kit) to kill their perceived political enemies.

So the CIA maintained control over the encryption key inserted into the bomb, which unscrambled communications with GPS satellites so they could be read by the bomb’s computers. The bomb could not hit its target without the key. The Colombians would have to ask for approval for some targets.

It was not until early 2010 that the U.S. government gave Colombia control over the GPS encryption key. Among the rules was that they would be launched only against isolated jungle camps.

The multibillion-dollar program — which is classified and ongoing — was funded secretly and separately from $9 billion in aid that the U.S. has openly provided to Colombia, mostly in military assistance.

The FARC’s terrorist designation made it easier to fund a black budget. And as a drug-trafficking organization, the FARC’s status as a threat to U.S. national security had been settled with Reagan’s counter-narcotics finding.

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