Weekly InSight: What the DEA Can Learn from the Honduras Debacle

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In our June 8 Facebook Live discussion, Senior Editor Mike LaSusa spoke with Mattathias Schwartz, a national security reporter for The Intercept, about a series of deadly raids that took place in 2012 in Honduras involving US law enforcement personnel.

The conversation began with LaSusa and Schwartz discussing a joint report on these incidents that was published recently by the Inspectors General of the State and Justice departments. The report examines three separate incidents in which agents from the US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) were found to have exercised deadly force during the course of missions intended to train a special unit of the Honduran National Police known as the Tactical Response Team (TRT).

Schwartz, who covered the report for The Intercept and had previously investigated the deadliest of the three incidents for the New Yorker, explained that the Inspectors General found that the DEA provided inaccurate and misleading information to Congress about the actions of its personnel during the raids, and that the agency had stymied outside investigations, including one by the US embassy in Honduras.

SEE ALSO: Coverage of Honduras

Schwartz and LaSusa also discussed how the report details alleged misbehavior by the DEA’s Honduran partners, including planting evidence and willfully making inaccurate reports to justify deadly uses of force. Schwartz said that this raises questions about the “institutional culture” at the DEA, where top officials were reportedly aware of these concerns but took virtually no action to address them.

The two also talked about the report in the context of US security policy in Central America more broadly. Schwartz pointed out that US policymakers should be careful not to conflate the security threats posed by criminal networks in the region with those posed by terrorist groups around the globe, in order to avoid applying inappropriate responses to serious security challenges. And he also highlighted the need for meaningful congressional oversight to help hold executive branch agencies accountable when policies and operations fall short, as they did in these cases — with deadly consequences.

Watch the Facebook Live broadcast for the full conversation:

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