Dear Democracy Now! Visitor: We are an independent, ad-free daily news program that serves millions of viewers and listeners each month. In this US election year, Democracy Now! is more important than ever. For 20 years, we’ve put a spotlight on corporate and government abuses of power. We lift up the stories of ordinary people working to make change in extraordinary times. We do all of this with just a fraction of the budget and staff of a commercial news show. We do it without ads, corporate sponsorship or government funding. How is this possible? Only with your support. A generous funder will match your donation dollar for dollar if you donate right now. That means when you give $10, your donation will be worth $20. Pretty exciting, right? So, if you've been waiting to make your contribution to Democracy Now!, today is your day. It takes just a couple of minutes to make sure that Democracy Now! is there for you every day.

Your Donation: $

Supreme Court Will Decide Whether U.S. Officials Can Be Sued for Lying to Jennifer Harburyabout What Happened to Her Husband, Who Was Captured, Tortured, and Executed By Guatemalan Officialson the Pay

December 12, 2001


The Supreme Court agreed this week to decide whether former Clinton Administration officials such as Secretary ofState Warren Christopher or former National Security Advisor Anthony Lake could be sued by human rights lawyerJennifer Harbury for deliberately misleading her about the fate of her Guatemalan husband.

Jennifer Harbury was married to Efrain Bamaca Velasquez, a Mayan guerrilla commander known as Commandante Everardo,who was fighting the brutal Guatemalan military.

Everardo was captured in 1993, tortured for more than a year and executed, under the watch of a Guatemalan militaryofficer who was on the payroll of the CIA. After Everardo disappeared Jennifer Harbury fasted–first for more thanfour weeks in Guatemala’s Presidential Palace and then for three weeks in front of the White House, seekinginformation about what had happened to her husband.

Harbury later filed several lawsuits against U.S. government agencies and individual officials, charging that theyrepeatedly lied to her about what they knew of her husband’s death. As a result of her case the CIA was forced toimplement guidelines which supposedly restrict its ability to put human rights abusers on its payroll as intelligenceassets or covert operatives.

Then came the Sept. 11 attacks. Suddenly intelligence reforms brought about by Jennifer Harbury’s case were beingblamed for handicapping the efforts of US officials to fight terrorism. Now lawyers representing the former ClintonAdministration officials named in the suit are saying "what’s at stake here is covert operations, and that has directramifications for Afghanistan."


  • Jennifer Harbury, lawyer and human rights activist.

The original content of this program is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License. Please attribute legal copies of this work to Some of the work(s) that this program incorporates, however, may be separately licensed. For further information or additional permissions, contact us.