Have a Nice Flight
Date: Monday, February 05 2007
Have a Nice Flight
Boeing helps CIA fly kidnapped suspects abroad for torture
by Nat Hentoff
February 4th, 2007 7:44 PM
On the Boeing 737 Business Jet, Khaled el-Masri said, "all the people were in black clothes and black masks. They put earplugs in my ears and a sack over my head." After putting chains on his legs, they led him onto the plane. "They threw me on the floor and injected me with something. I blacked out."
—From Ghost Plane: The True Story of the CIA Torture Program, Stephen Grey (St. Martin's Press)
Last month, a judge in Milan, Italy, began a hearing on kidnapping charges against 26 Americans, most of them CIA agents, that could lead to the first trial anywhere on the CIA's "extraordinary renditions." Scores of flights to torture chambers have been documented—along with flight logs from European and American official aviation sources—by human rights organizations and in Stephen Grey's extensively sourced book Ghost Plane.
The CIA agents in Italy left behind bountiful evidence of their violations of Italian and international laws. But the U.S. will not extradite them to Italy for doing their duty under special orders from the president on September 17, 2001, orders that gave the agency unprecedented latitude to engage in "clandestine intelligence activity" in the war on terrorism.
This Bush "notification memorandum" is "Top Secret." Vermont senator Patrick Leahy, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, is striving mightily to get Attorney General Alberto Gonzales to provide him with this further proof of how the administration has been operating—as Dick Cheney advised right after 9-11—"on the dark side."
In any case, the CIA kidnappers under scrutiny in Italy, along with rampantly lawless agents elsewhere, cannot be tried in the U.S. as long as the Military Commissions Act of 2006 is in effect. The president got the Republican-controlled Congress, in that legislation, to give CIA lawbreakers a retroactive get-out-of-jail-free card for their work on "the dark side."
Meanwhile, although the CIA "renditions" are no longer secret—and Ghost Plane writer Grey has recently been talking about them to members of Congress—little has been revealed about the private American airline companies that have been supplying the CIA with the planes to transport the shackled, blindfolded, drugged passengers for interrogation in foreign torture chambers.