Inconvenient News,
       by smintheus

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

  CIA torture flightlogs now available

In late October, writing about some new evidence for the torture of terrorist-suspects by US troops in Bosnia (Germans documented American torture in 2001), I mentioned that Stephen Grey was promising to post within the week, on his blog, the logs from CIA torture flights. Grey is the author of Ghost Plane: The true story of the CIA torture program.

Well, it didn't happen until Nov. 29, but now they are available for the world to see. And what a resource they are. It's about time that bloggers took notice and began to report about this explosion of information.

The CIA torture flight logs

The flight plans were collected from American and European aviation sources. These logs have been used by Dick Marty in his investigation on behalf of the Council of Europe, which uncovered and reconstructed the spider's web of US rendition flights around the globe. Marty's reports are available at PACE.

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The more than 3000 logs now posted on line by Grey are for planes that have already been identified as working for the CIA. However, as Grey points out here, these are prospective flight plans and some probably were not actually completed. Also, an uncertain number of the flights that have been scooped up here had nothing to do with 'rendition' of prisoners. Although Grey does not mention the fact, many of the flightplans have been confirmed in a most remarkable way—by comparing notes with plane-spotters in various countries around Europe. It's not such an innocuous past-time after all; take that, Big Brother.

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That said, turn to Grey's introduction and overview to the mass of logs (emphasis is mine).

The flightlogs detail CIA activities ranging from the rendition of terrorist suspects, to the deployment of covert teams into Afghanistan, the transfer of interrogators to assist in the questioning of prisoners like Saddam Hussein and Abu Zubaydah, the transfer of Libyan secret policemen to Guantanamo, visits to the CIA’s training facility at Camp Peary, to the deployment of teams following major incidents, such as the Bali bomb or a bomb blast at the US consulate in Karachi.

The presence of these planes at key events around the world, and at key CIA bases, since 9/11 helps confirm their identity as the CIA’s secret airfleet.

More importantly, though most of these flights are un-related to renditions, it is the flight plans of certain jets exactly matching the accounts given by former or current prisoners that help prove these renditions took place just as the prisoners described – and the key role of the US Government in these transfers.

At a time when the US Government (citing the need for ‘state secrecy’) still refuses to acknowledge its responsibility for any single rendition operation ... these flight logs are published to provide detailed authentication for the description of a systematic CIA rendition program described in ‘Ghost Plane’.

After detailing and corroborating more than 80 renditions, often with the help of these flight logs (the list is published as annex in Ghost Plane), I hope this publication will also help others to trace other cases and, most importantly, help trace the fate of many, many prisoners that have vanished since their arrest since 9/11....

The flight logs, originating primarily from aviation sources in the US and Europe, are incomplete for journeys into the Far East, but do support report that some key detainees were held in such Far East locations such as Thailand.

Many of the logs may be tied to so-far unreported renditions; there are many flights from airports like Kabul, Afghanistan, to destinations across the Middle East, sometimes when the jets involved were known to carry rendition teams.


Grey also provides a long list of "new information" that these flightlogs reveal. In particular, I'll draw attention to:

* The flightlogs indicate a CIA trip to Iran, and the first confirmed trip of a CIA flight into Diego Garcia.

* Involvement of CIA fleet with Britain’s MI6 in negotiation with Libyan intelligence in Libya

* Rendition of an Italian citizen, Abu al-Kassem Britel, from Pakistan to Morrocco in US jet.

* Confirmation of rendition claim by two British residents (Jamil al Banna and Bisher al Rawi) from the Gambia to CIA jail in Afghanistan.


I expect to be posting something in the near future about Bisher al Rawi, who is held in Guantanamo. After my recent post on America's slaves, his attorney contacted me and shared information about his client's plight that I believe should be publicized more widely.

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The flightlogs are accessible via a link on this page. You'll see that the database is fully searchable.

You'll also want to explore this timeline, which connects several of the flightlogs with 'renditions' that are otherwise documented. It is perhaps the most accessible place to begin looking at how this raw data can be made to reveal important information about the CIA torture flights.

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Further documentation at Grey's blog

On the main page of Grey's blog, you'll find chilling documentation on the 'rendition' of two men who've been released from the 'black sites' where they'd been held incommunicado and tortured: Khaled El Masri; and Mohamed Bashmila, whom Grey interviewed along with Bashmila's mother. Here is Bashmila on his treatment by American captors:

...direct music for 24 hours so you couldn’t sleep. My mental state was terrible. Every half hour, the guards would knock the door and not let you sleep, they woke you up and so my mental condition became very bad. This is in addition to what happened to us in terms of fear....

I came to the other prison, my mental state worsened because knew that I would be staying in yet another prison for an unknown period of time, particularly as the new prison had a new lavatory and new cameras which indicated that we were going to stay there for who knows how long. In addition to the fact that the interrogators in that place said something to me that affected me a lot inside. They said to me ‘welcome to your permanent home’. This affected my state even more....

Q: How many visits did he have from the Red Cross?

A: From the time they arrested me in Jordan right up till when I was handed back to Yemen, I didn’t meet any organisations or legal humanitarian authorities whatsoever, until I met the first organisation that had begun began to make inquiries about me, Amnesty International, who I met in Yemen in June. This was the first foreign organisation that met me. While I was in prison. I didn’t meet any organisations. There was neither the Red Cross nor any humanitarian organisation to watch out for me, nor a lawyer to communicate with my family. None of that happened to me, nothing at all.

Q: How many times did anyone from the American side ever come and ask you if you had any complaints and check how you were being treated?

A: No-one ever asked about my condition, whether I had any demands or if I had any wishes. All that took place between me and them was interrogation, showing me pictures, questions or names of some people. This is what happened. I never met any humanitarian organisation that asked about me or who I could ask about the situation of my family or connections or any requests. It’s true that there were some psychiatrists that attended us to ask about our mental state and if we were eating and sleeping, but they didn’t lift us out of the condition we found ourselves in.


Bashmila also describes his original arrest, following a mix-up about a visa he'd received:

Q: But there must have been something bigger they accused you of, they must have said you were a terrorist or a member of al-Qaeda, or knew Bin Laden. There must be something they were accusing you of!

A: No. In this regard, they just asked me a question, ‘Have you been to Afghanistan before?’ I replied to them answering, ‘Yes, I went to Afghanistan’. So when I informed them that I had been to Afghanistan, they didn’t interrogate me as to why I went, or how long I stayed in Afghanistan or did I join any organisation. All they knew is that I had been to Afghanistan and they chained me up right away, took me to the apartment I had been staying in, searched it thoroughly and locked my mother and wife into a room. Then they took us to the secret service headquarters. I didn’t see them again until I came back to Yemen.


Grey also has a document that purports to have been written by Abu Omar and smuggled out of his prison in Egypt. He was kidnapped by the CIA off the streets of Milan in Feb. 2003. This account has been published (in Italian) in the Corriere della Sera on Nov. 9, 2006, but Grey now provides an English translation.

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Finally, there is this astounding report from Tuesday's Washington Post. One of the commenters here on an earlier post, an attorney for one of the detainees at Guantanamo, advised me to anticipate this story in a few days. It is a doozy:

Attorneys for a group of Chinese Muslims held for nearly five years in the U.S. military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, filed suit yesterday, asking that the men be released immediately and alleging that they have been held as part of a political deal between the United States and China.

Citing new laws that allow detainees to challenge their status as "enemy combatants," the lawyers argue that their seven clients -- ethnic Uighurs (pronounced wee-gurs) -- have never taken up arms against the United States or its allies. They contend that the men have been labeled wrongfully as terrorist suspects because they oppose the Communist Chinese government....

In a 58-page filing at the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, the lawyers argue that the Uighurs have been held since early 2002 as a way to win Chinese acquiescence for the U.S. invasion of Iraq....

More than a dozen Uighurs are still in Guantanamo. U.S. officials have determined them to be enemy combatants because of their participation in an alleged terrorist training camp in Afghanistan, which all fled when the United States started bombing the area after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.

The Uighurs have told military court officials they were not allied with the Taliban and are sympathetic to the United States, which they view as a liberator. They said they were living in a small community in Afghanistan after fleeing oppression in China.

According to military tribunal records and court filings, the men were lured to a mosque in Pakistan, where they were arrested and later turned over to Pakistani authorities. Willett said he believes the men were sold to the United States for sizable bounties and were sent to Guantanamo along with many other detainees captured there.


And what was I saying the other day about the purchase of slaves by the American government, under the guise of "bounties"?

From Unbossed

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