Private War was broadcast in the UK on Tuesday, 14 December, 2004 at 1930 GMT on BBC Two.
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Just to say I enjoyed the programme very much. Unfortunately programmes like this have become an endangered species. It is good to see the BBC using their journalistic resources to create something informative and worthwhile.
R Baker, Nottingham
Congratulations to the This World team on yesterday evening's Private War. I was engrossed from start to finish by this gem of a programme. No gimmicky graphics, gratuitous music, or cliché-ridden commentary; just cool, head-on TV journalism that had an important story to cover, and did an excellent job in the mere 30 minutes allotted to it.
Jim Hayes, Hertfordshire
I understand that many companies that work in countries such as Columbia take out kidnap insurance for their staff. I did not see anything mentioned about this and if it could be used to try and release the captives.
Barry Lambert, UK
I am so glad I watched this programme. I'm just sorry it wasn't longer and was not widely publicised. I remember the incident of the downed aircraft, so to see that the US government and the crew's employers had left them in the hands of Farc was appalling.
I hope we can get a follow-up and perhaps a more in depth analysis of the many other kidnapped Columbians who have spent years in captivity.
Ian McClellan, UK
It amazes me how so many projects are hidden from the American people. I have been following many of the world events and find it odd how the US is involved in many of them. This is not a good thing, because in many of the cases it is about what the US is forcing on others or the half-hearted resolve of the US administration.
The leaders of this country are acting in their own interest, not those of the American people. This I am certain of. Sad but true. The people have lost control in America.
While your article regarding the "private" war brings up some great points, it suffers from an obvious slant. It seems as if the only people truly interviewed and written about are those opposed to the idea. Perhaps an interview with politicians in favour of this type of war would have given it more solid credibility.
It requires a good deal of coordination and preparation to make these missions happen. The contractors might have found the military willing to help (not being the commander of those Search and Rescue (SAR) forces, I cannot make that a definitive statement).
In this case the military would have needed to know the mission time, route, and details (type of aircraft, number of crew members, and so on). They would also need a way to verify that the people they are attempting to rescue are the contractors and not Farc members waiting in ambush by the site.
I have been with the military over nine years now and trust me, most of the people I know in the service would not willingly and knowingly let our own people be taken hostage.
Although the American government can use private contractors as scapegoats for illegal and unethical behaviour, these companies can be held liable in civil court.
The only way to effect the behaviour of these "pillars" of the American corporate community is to sue them. After some big settlements, the shareholders will force a change.
To expect Donald Rumsfeld or George W Bush to behave honourably is a waste of time.
Brian Mancarti, USA
I'd like to thank the reporter and producers for making this film. I have lived and worked in Colombia and the injustice of what happens there is extreme, even in this immoral world.
I thought the emphasis on the lack of accountability within US involvement was apposite, be it for the questions of those who've lost loved ones as pilots fumigating, or for the poor people living in the areas being sprayed with toxic chemicals.
The complexity of the situation in Colombia means that it is easy not to take sides, and to reduce the conflict to one of drugs, or guerrillas, or a long running civil war.
Really no conflict seems to illustrate more clearly what an interconnected world we live in. If only we had more power to change the minds of the powerful.
Caitlin Scott, UK
A fascinating programme, although I was disappointed by the very brief time spent on the human rights issues of the innocent rural communities who are being sprayed by the US government's contractors in this fight against drugs.
Not only do they have direct contact with the sprays when they are released from the aircraft, but these agrochemicals go into their ecosystems and food chains which invariably causes cancer.
It is well known in farming practices in England that protection is needed from contact with agrochemicals, but for Colombians the US clearly thinks that these standards don't count.
Bush talks about war crimes, but this is exactly that.
I would also be interested to know of the link to oil. Columbia generates a huge amount of oil for the US and I believe this is just another way for them to control the situation with the FARC who pose a threat to this valuable resource.
Angela Mount, UK