CIA plane spirits terror suspects to countries that use torture
December 29, 2004, 12:00 am TWN
A U.S. jet registered to a ghost company whisks terror suspects to countries that use torture, The Washington Post reported Monday, based on its own investigation.
The Gulfstream V turbojet has been seen at U.S. military bases around the world, often loading up hooded and shackled suspects and delivering them to countries known to use torture, a process the CIA calls "rendition," the Washington daily said.
The Post investigated the ownership of the jet, which has been spotted in Afghanistan, Indonesia, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Libya, Morocco, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and Uzbekistan and which carries the tail number N379P, according to the newspaper.
The officers of the plane's corporate owner, Premier Executive Transport Services, are all listed with dates of birth in the 1940s, 1950s and 1960s, but with social security numbers issued since 1998, found the Post, which was unable to locate any further business or credit information on them or on the company.
The CIA refused comment, but such "proprietary" or front corporations are standard procedure for the agency, former operatives told the Post.
The "rendering" of suspects to countries that employ interrogation techniques banned in the United States is worrisome and could violate the UN Convention on Torture, World Organization for Human Rights USA executive director Morton Sklar told the daily.
The Post article confirmed much of a November 14 article published in the Sunday Times, of London, which obtained flight plans for the plane, which, the Times said, always departs from Washington, DC and has visited the U.S. Navy base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, where about 550 terror suspects are held.
A Swedish television program, "Cold Facts," reported that in December 2001, the jet took hooded terror suspects to Egypt, according to the Post, which confirmed the Swedish report independently.
The Post said the plane, with hooded crew members speaking with U.S. accents, loaded two Egyptian nationals and took off at 400 am for Cairo.
It said airport officials and amateur plane spotters, some using binoculars, have logged multiple sightings of N379P at several U.S. military airports and fueling stations.