ACCESSION NUMBER:350026 FILE ID:LEF309 DATE:06/22/94 TITLE:U.S. PLANS TO WAIVE PARTS OF LAW HAMPERING DRUG WAR (06/22/94) TEXT:*94062209.PFL LEEWAY FOR DRUG INTERDICTION IN PERU, COLOMBIA *LEF309 06/22/94* U.S. PLANS TO WAIVE PARTS OF LAW HAMPERING DRUG WAR (SP) (Talks with Colombia, Peru underway - LSI307) dc (600) By Daniel Cento USIA Staff Writer WASHINGTON -- The Clinton administration proposes to waive provisions of a U.S. antiterrorism law hampering the war on illegal drug trafficking in Colombia, Peru, and other countries. The policy change, Lee P. Brown, director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP), told a news conference June 22, would give President Clinton authority to resume the exchange of drug trafficking intelligence and other anti-narcotics assistance to Colombia and Peru. The proposal would allow certain countries, under defined circumstances, to down civilian aircraft suspected of transporting illicit narcotics. Existing U.S. laws -- drafted with the intent of penalizing state-sponsored terrorism -- forbid the sharing of intelligence and certain types of assistance with governments that fire upon civilian aircraft. It was under these legal provisions that President Clinton was obligated to temporarily suspend the sharing of intelligence with Colombia and Peru. Negotiations with Colombia and Peru are underway, Brown said, but the Clinton proposal must be approved by Congress. "If the president determines that a (foreign) country faces a national security threat from the trafficking in illicit drugs and that the country has appropriate procedures in place to protect innocent aircraft," Brown said, "then those countries would be exempt from criminal liability. This exemption would also extend to the assistance given by the U.S. government to those countries." Brown said, "The temporary suspension of sharing certain types of information with the governments of Colombia and Peru in no way reflects any desire to change this administration's policy of giving full support to the democracies in Latin America in our mutual fight against illegal narcotics smuggling.... "An interagency review of the legal issues concluded that our domestic law precluded sharing information with countries that used that information to shoot down civil aircraft.... The change we are proposing recognizes the extreme narcotics situation faced by Colombia and Peru, while insisting on procedures to ensure the protection of innocent aircraft. It reflects both our commitment to the international counternarcotics effort and our support for civil aviation." Amid concerns that this proposal might give political license to governments to fire on civilian airplanes on the pretext that they might be transporting illicit drugs, Brown made clear that in the "unique circumstances in Colombia and Peru.... we have the most effective counternarcotics strategy as possible in this hemisphere." "We should be able to use the intelligence necessary to prevent those drug trafficking organizations from using their airspace with impunity," he said. "We want to make sure there is no force used on commercial aircraft flying scheduled routes," he added. 1rown listed "certain obvious" precautions to be taken before any plane is ever fired upon, such as visual identification of suspect aircraft to determine if they are properly registered, formal notification of zones where drug flights take place, repeated radio contact to make sure the suspect plane lands at a designated airfield, and even "shots across the bow." He said the United States has sent high-level delegations to both countries to discuss the proposed legislation, which he called "the most effective way in which we can reinstate a full sharing of drug intelligence with Colombia and Peru." Brown has spoken to the ambassadors of both countries here to inform them of the proposed legislation and is awaiting their official response. Both, he said, are willing to work with the United States on the issue. NNNN .