Former CIA chief in Guatemala got earlier reprimand


WASHINGTON -- The CIA's station chief in Guatemala, who was removed from his post in February for failing to disclose the agency's ties to a Guatemalan colonel linked to the killing of an American, had been formally reprimanded for similar silences nine months earlier, government officials said yesterday.

The CIA's inspector general accused the station chief of suppressing reports of human rights violations by the Guatemalan military, according to government officials familiar with the inspector general's report.

The station chief also failed to warn the U.S. Ambassador Marilyn McAfee of reports that Guatemalan army officers planned to destroy her reputation with false and scurrilous allegations, the officials said.

After reading the inspector general's report last May, Jack Devine, who was chief of the agency's Latin American division at the time, reprimanded the station chief, placed him on six months' probation, and warned him to be more sensitive to reports of Guatemalan officers' involvement in killings, torture and other abuses, they said.

Then, in January, the station chief failed to disclose crucial evidence in the case of Col. Julio Roberto Alpirez, a former CIA agent paid for inside information, they said.

In March, Rep. Robert G. Torricelli, a New Jersey Democrat, accused the colonel of involvement in the killings of an American innkeeper in Guatemala and a Guatemalan guerrilla married to an American lawyer, setting off a continuing series of internal investigations at U.S. intelligence agencies.

By that time, the station chief, a relatively inexperienced officer compared with other chiefs of station in the CIA's covert-operations division, had been transferred to a desk job at the agency's headquarters in Langley, Va. He could not be reached for comment.

It was at least the sixth time in the last eight years that a station chief in the CIA's Latin American division had been removed.

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