Steve Tarlow – The United States’ extraordinary rendition program, which involves transporting and allegedly torturing suspected terrorists, is a controversial aspect of the war on terror. Now, the Guardian reports that the cloak-and-dagger treatment that is bad news for how the world perceives the U.S. and U.K. governments is good news for private American companies. Contracting secret transportation of suspected terrorists to secret prisons amounts to big business.
Fly the unfriendly skies of rendition
As the 10th anniversary of 9/11 approaches, records revealed in a New York-based fee dispute lawsuit, including invoices, receipts and more, suggest that a number of private American firms were paid handsomely by the U.S. government to fly terrorism suspects to various locations around the world. Suspects were reportedly sedated via anal suppositories, then hooded and muffled in the back of the aircraft to facilitate easy transport.
Testimony from multiple sources has revealed that torture techniques were used at many, if not all, of the interrogation center destinations.
Records from the lawsuit reveal that a number of high-ranking executives at firms like Sportsflight and Richmor were completely aware of the purpose of the private charter flights. As a result, corporations and individuals are now at risk of being sued by al-Qaida and Taliban suspects who were victimized by the U.S. extraordinary rendition program.
The case against Sportsflight and Richmor
Sportsflight, an aircraft broker, and Richmor, an aircraft operator, entered into a contract agreement with the U.S. government to rent Gulfstream IV executive jets at $4,900 per hour, rather than the market rate of $5,450 per hour. Crews were made available to fly with only 12 hours’ notice.
“(We were told) we’re going to be very, very busy,” he told the court.
Records of known terror suspects such as Egyptian cleric Abu Omar and alleged 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed – among others involved in the CIA rendition program – are reportedly among the evidence in the New York lawsuit. Flights to and from Alaska, Japan, Thailand, Afghanistan and Sri Lanka are logged, records which support details previously obtained from Indonesian terror leader Encep Nuraman, the Guardian reports.
Richmor is known to have provided aircraft for a private military company called DynCorp, which was acting on the CIA’s behalf. Bills for aircraft were traced through Sportsflight and another aircraft broker, Capital Aviation.
Legal charity Reprieve allegedly discovered the CIA rendition documents that were taken into evidence against Sportsflight and Richmor. Reprieve director Cori Crider spoke to the Guardian of the “sinister business”:
“These documents reveal how the CIA’s secret network of torture sites was able to operate unchecked for so many years. They also reveal what a farce it was that the CIA managed to get the prisoners’ torture claims kicked out as secret, while all of the details of its sinister business were hiding in plain sight,” she said.