As the widows of two men killed in Guatemala listened
Wednesday, acting CIA Director William O. Studeman denied
complicity by the agency in the deaths. But key Senate Intelligence
Committee members accused the CIA of misleading Congress.
Studeman also denied reports that the CIA had increased funding
for its clandestine programs in Guatemala to make up for President
George Bush's cutoff of military assistance at the end of 1990.
In the first detailed response to criticism of CIA ties to the
Guatemalan army, Studeman acknowledged that the CIA had:
Failed to give Congress information that it had in the fall of
1991 about the death of Michael Devine, an innkeeper from
Belleville, Ill., who had lived in Guatemala for many years.
Not recognized the "potential significance" of information
received in mid-1994 about the death of Efrain Velasquez Bamaca, a
Recalled its station chief in Guatemala in January after a key
report was delayed for six days - "a management lapse," Studeman
President Bill Clinton said at a news conference Wednesday that
there were still "open questions" on whether CIA actions in
Guatemala were appropriate and whether the White House and Congress
were kept properly informed.
Clinton said he would "get to the bottom of it" through a
series of investigations that he has ordered.
Studeman did not specifically discuss the agency's relationship
with Lt. Col. Julio Roberto Alpirez, purportedly a paid CIA
informant implicated in the deaths of Devine and Bamaca. Those
questions, said to deal with classified material, were left for a
private session with the Senate Intelligence Committee.
But Studeman told the committee in public that the CIA was
diligent in providing other U.S. government agencies information it
obtained about Alpirez' alleged involvement in the deaths of Devine
in June 1990 and Bamaca around March 1992.
Studeman and Assistant Secretary of State Alexander Watson both
said the administration believed that Alpirez was at least involved
in a cover-up of Devine's death at the hands of the Guatemalan army
and was believed to know about or to be involved in Bamaca's death.
"The CIA is not complicit in the murder of Mr. Devine, nor in
the apparent killing of Mr. Bamaca," Studeman said. The CIA asked
the Justice Department in November 1991 if Alpirez could be
prosecuted in the killing of Devine and in March 1992 received a
ruling from the department that no U. …