THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release August 13, 2009
August 13, 2009
STATEMENT BY THE PRESS SECRETARY
The President has authorized the Department of State to continue assistance to Colombia in carrying out an "Air Bridge Denial (ABD) Program" against civil aircraft reasonably suspected of trafficking in illicit drugs. In granting this authorization, the President has determined that Colombia has put in place appropriate procedures to protect against innocent loss of life in connection with interdiction operations. The United States Department of State, with the support of other U.S. agencies, has the ability to continue to work with the Government of Colombia to ensure effective counternarcotics operations while observing strict adherence to agreed-upon and well-established safety procedures. There were no known instances in which lethal force was used against innocent civilian aircraft and no known fatalities.
Through the 1980s and 1990s, drug organizations turned increasingly to aircraft to move cocaine base and paste from Bolivia and Peru to processing labs in Colombia for final processing and transport to the United States. In the early 1990s, the United States Government supported the aerial interdiction efforts of the Governments of Colombia and Peru, which were designed to disrupt the aerial transport of illicit drugs in those countries’ airspace. In April 2001, following the accidental shoot down by the Peruvian Air Force of an aircraft carrying United States missionaries, the United States suspended its support for both the Peruvian and Colombian programs. In August 2003, after the United States and Colombia agreed upon new procedures, oversight measures, and reporting criteria, the United States and Colombia initiated the ABD Program. This Program involves U.S. support for the Government of Colombia’s efforts to interdict aircraft that are reasonably suspected to be primarily engaged in illicit drug trafficking.