23. CIA LA PENCA BOMBING. A MURDER INDICTMENT: NO NEWS?

One of the most comprehensive news blackouts in recent history occurred when an official Costa Rican judicial investigation recommended that two U.S. citizens, who played prominent roles in the Iran-contra affair, be indicted for murder in connection with the La Penca bombing in 1984.

The final investigation report named John Hull, identified as a CIA operative who helped supply the contras from his northern Costa Rican farm, and Felipe Vidal, a Cuban-American contra figure, as planners of the assassination attempt against Nicaraguan rebel leader Eden Pastora, a bombing that only wounded its intended victim, but killed three journalists (one of them American), and maimed several more.

Pastora had refused to join forces with a rival contra faction directed by the CIA, as well as refused to accept the help of arms pilots who doubled as drug runners, and also refused the participation of Miami-based anti-Castro Cubans in the effort to oust the Sandinistas.

Additionally, the Costa Rican investigators found that a network of CIA operatives participated in an elaborate cover-up of the bombing in which vital evidence (including parts of the bomb) was stolen, false stories were concocted to lead investigators away from the true perpetrators of the crime and Costa Rican officials were bribed or pressured to stop their investigations. The U.S. media, with the exception of the Miami Herald, USA Today, and NBC affiliate KRON in San Francisco, completely ignored this seemingly significant development in the ongoing La Penca/Iran-contra story.

SSU CENSORED RESEARCHER: BILL GIBBONS

SOURCE: THE MIAMI HERALD, One Herald Plaza, Miami, FL 33132-1693
DATE: 1/6/90
TITLE: "Costa Rican Prosecutor Links Two Americans to Fatal Bombing"
AUTHOR: JOHN McPHAUL

SOURCE: PROPAGANDA REVIEW, Media Alliance, Building D, Fort Mason Center, San Francisco, CA 94123
DATE: Winter 1990
TITLE: "La Penca Cover-up Continues" AUTHOR: JOHAN CARLISLE

COMMENTS: Investigative reporter Johan Carlisle, an observer of the La Penca case since 1986, both as a journalist and briefly as a consulting investigator for the Christic Institute, in Washington, DC, said that "the larger story of the La Penca/Christic lawsuit has been systematically suppressed by all of the major media with a few exceptions. The Miami Herald and the Philadelphia Inquirer have broken a number of Iran/contra-related stories which have managed to at least mention the La Penca lawsuit. The New York Times has only used what some of us have come to call the 'C' word (Christic) on one or two occasions and the Washington Post has not done much better." While there may have been some brief mention of some of the La Penca case details, Carlisle noted, there certainly was "no analysis, background or serious mention of the lawsuit -- all of which is necessary to put the Costa Rican government's actions into perspective." Carlisle feels that if the public had been informed "about the alleged crimes of John Hull and other defendants in the La Penca lawsuit, they would have exerted more pressure on Congress to establish firm controls on the President's ability to run such anti-democratic operations around the world." At the very least, Congress might not have been so eager to pass the Intelligence Authorization Bill (noted in censored story # 25, on page 67) which was subsequently vetoed by Bush. Carlisle concludes that the La Penca story is unique in modern journalism. "The combined resources and disclosures of a massive congressional investigation of the Iran /contra affair, the resulting mainstream media investigations, public TV and radio coverage, and numerous trials produced a huge amount of data and revelations about covert operations. Covert operations are normally undiscovered and thus go unreported. That the media didn't go beyond the safe stories of Iran/contra and allowed Congress to ignore important leads is a tragedy."