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November 22, 2005

Torture taxis

Suppose you're a CIA agent who wants to kidnap a suspected terrorist and whisk him off to a country that's even more likely to torture him than the US. You can't just frog march the guy onto the next flight to Syria. You're going to need a plane of your own. Fortunately, the CIA has a fleet of torture taxis at your disposal. These planes are scattered around America, ready to depart at a moment's notice for undisclosed locations. Problem solved. But then there's the perrenial question of parking. Where do you keep these planes when you're not using them?

You can't just walk into a local airstrip and say, "Hi, I'm from the CIA and I'd like to put my plane in storage. Here's my CIA credit card."

So, you've got to set up your own CIA front company to pretend to rent the space to you.

As Chris Kromm explains at Facing South, that's exactly what's happening:

As exposed last May in The New York Times, Smithfield is home of what looks like a fly-by-night rural airstrip, but which is actually home of a key "shell company" run by the CIA: Aero Contractors. Among its cloak-and-dagger operations, Aero shuttles in terror suspects captured around the world -- and then, as part of the U.S.'s widely-condemned policy of "extraordinary rendition" -- ships them back out for interrogation to countries that accept torture.

We already know about the torture taxi depots in Smithfield, and others in Tennessee. Next question: Where else is the CIA stashing its planes?

Chris writes, "It seems we have another great project for investigative muckrakers in the blogosphere: Where are the rest of the CIA's "torture taxis?" Do you have one in your backyard?"


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If they park their black helicopters on the same strips we should be able to track 'em down.

on related news

The European Union is to formally ask the US to clarify reports that it ran secret CIA prisons in eastern Europe.
The US has refused to confirm or deny the reports, which surfaced in the US earlier this month.

A European investigator is seeking satellite images of Romania and Poland, alleged sites of the secret prisons.

Police to probe US ‘torture flights’ landing in Scotland

SCOTTISH police are to launch an investigation into CIA “torture flights” which fly in and out of Glasgow and Prestwick airports, ferrying kidnapped war on terror suspects around the world.

The police action is a result of last week’s disturbing investigation by the Sunday Herald into the so-called “extraordinary rendition flights”, which see suspects kidnapped overseas by the CIA, drugged and then flown to “friendly” states, such as Egypt, Uzbekistan and Morocco, where they are tortured on behalf of British and American intelligence.

Following our reports , the Green Party wrote to the chief constable of Strathclyde Police, Sir William Rae, asking for a full inquiry into the torture flights. A police spokesperson confirmed that the force would now launch an investigation.

Last week, we revealed that the British government was to be sued by human rights lawyer Clive Stafford Smith for complicity in the torture of his client Benyam Mohammed al-Habashi.

Also exposed was the fact that international human rights experts and lawyers believe the UK is breaking the Geneva Conventions by collaborating with the USA on the transit of the flights through Britain.

Digby via leftcoaster

It's not that it [9-11 of course, what, you were thinking the Theory of Relativity?] changed us so much as it revealed us, I think. A society that can so easily discard it's legal and ethical taboos against cruelty and barbarism, is an unstable society to begin with.

At this rather late stage in life, I'm realizing that the solid America I thought I knew may never have existed. Running very close, under the surface, was a frightened, somewhat hysterical culture that could lose its civilized moorings all at once. I had naively thought that there were some things that Americans would find unthinkable --- torture was one of them.

Marana, Arizona (a suburb of Tucson) has an airfield that was once used exclusively by Air America, Intermountain Airways, and Continental Air Services (all CIA fronts). Intermountain's assets were sold at a heavy discount to Evergreen International in 1975. Evergreen now runs this facility, now called Pinal Air Park.

Evergreen operates as a private contractor, and they do a lot of business, through a lot of similar airfields, for the government. Much of this business is related to covert operations, and Evergreen was heavily involved in shipping arms to the Contras during the 1980s. I'd be very surprised if we weren't using this outfit for some of the secret rendition flights.

Via Americablog

European Union asking about those CIA "detention" centers

How quaint. Thinking they can get answers from the Bush administration:

The European Commission will seek answers from Washington on reports the CIA ran secret detention centers in Europe, the bloc's Justice Commissioner Franco Frattini said on Thursday.

The Washington Post newspaper reported this month the CIA had been interrogating suspected al Qaeda captives at a secret facility in eastern Europe that was part of a covert global prison system with sites in eight countries.


This may seem like nitpicking, but you should probably say the "Bush Admin," rather than "the CIA." The CIA, if you read their enabling legislation, operates at the pleasure of the President. They follow the orders of the C of Chief.

They are not a rogue elephant - but that image allows elected official to obscure accountability, by playing up that falsely perceived left hand/right hand dichotomy.

Basically - they do what they are told. Accccountability should always start from the top down - from those who gave orders first.

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