ACCESSION NUMBER:385884 FILE ID:PPO401 DATE:03/30/95 TITLE:CLINTON ORDERS PROBE ON DEATHS OF AMERICANS IN GUATEMALA (03/30/95) TEXT:*PPO401 03/30/95 POGUATLD pmk/djm CLINTON ORDERS PROBE ON DEATHS OF AMERICANS IN GUATEMALA (To study possible complicity by U.S. agencies) (440) By Alexander M. Sullivan USIA White House Correspondent Washington -- President Clinton March 30 ordered a broad investigation of possible complicity by U.S. agencies in the deaths of Americans in Guatemala. The spreading tale of possible abuses by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), the U.S. Army and other American agencies was fueled by a new charge lodged by a Defense Department consultant -- that his free-lance journalist brother and another American were killed by the Guatemalan military in 1985. Samuel Blake said in a New York Times article that State Department and CIA officials helped Guatemala cover up facts about the deaths of Nick Blake and photographer Griffin Davis. Clinton ordered the Intelligence Oversight Board to look into their deaths and the murders of Michael Devine and Efrain Bamaca Valesquez, as well as the torture of a nun, Sister Dianna Ortiz, in 1989. White House Press Secretary Mike McCurry said Clinton had ordered the board to review "any and all aspects" of all five cases. McCurry said Clinton "is concerned about recent allegations surrounding these incidents and is committed to determining all related facts." Upon completion of the review, he said, the president "intends to take any and all appropriate action." He will also, McCurry said, make public "as much information about the review as possible." Investigations of the Devine and Bamaca deaths were already underway by the Defense Department, the State Department, the CIA, the Justice Department, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), and the National Security Agency (NSA). The Senate Intelligence Committee has scheduled a public hearing on the matter April 5. The activities of American agencies in Guatemala came to renewed public attention last week when Representative Robert Torricelli wrote Clinton asserting that Bamaca's widow, Jennifer Harbury, had been misled by U.S. officials who withheld knowledge of her husband's death. Torricelli later said documents pertaining to the deaths of Bamaca and Devine were being shredded by the NSA and the Army. Torricelli is a member of the House Committee on Intelligence. McCurry told reporters in Tallahassee, Florida, where Clinton is traveling, that the president had ordered steps taken to prevent further shredding of documents. The FBI is looking into the possibility such records may have been destroyed, Deputy Attorney General Jamie Gorelick said in Washington. Questioned about a news report stating U.S. funds continued to flow clandestinely to the Guatemalan military after the Bush administration had publicly cut off financial assistance, McCurry said, "I don't have any information I can share on that." NNNN .