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Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Sox-strordinary Rendition

Thanks to long-time reader Bruce, who forwards this astonishing story. Via Daily Kos, stories appearing independently in the Chicago Tribune and Boston Globe indicate that an executive jet owned by Phillip H. Morse, a minority partner in the Boston Red Sox, was leased to the CIA and used for the "extraordinary rendition" of one Abu Omar. ("Extraordinary rendition" is the practice of shipping prisoners to other countries, generally those lacking civilized limits on the behavior of government agents, and generally for the explicit purpose of beating information out of individuals.) Omar, kidnapped from Italy, was then shipped to Egypt. The Milanese public prosecutor is preparing charges according to an anonymous Italian official.

Not only was the plane used to send Omar to Egypt (where, he claims, he was brutally tortured), but its log showed 51 flights to Guantanamo Bay, and 82 visits to Dulles International Airport. The plane also stopped at Andrews Air Force Base, the air bases at Ramstein and Rhein-Main in Germany, Afghanistan, Morocco, Dubai, Jordan, Italy, Japan, Switzerland, Azerbaijan and the Czech Republic. Some of the itinerary came from

the worldwide cadre of aviation aficionados who call themselves "planespotters"--not because of its possible connection with the U.S. government, but because planespotters pride themselves on keeping meticulous records of every aircraft that comes and goes at their chosen airports.
Assembly Point Aviation, a "religious organization" according to Dun & Bradstreet, actually owns the plane; its sole officer and director is Phillip H. Morse. The CIA leased the plane through a third party, Richmor Aviation. Morse refused to answer questions regarding "the customer" who organized the Egyptian outing, and further said, "I don't ask my customers why they go anywhere, whether it's West Palm Beach or the moon."

Though we don't know what happened to Omar or any of the others who may have been rendered, the Tribune story recounts this version of one:

The only eyewitness account of how rendition targets are prepared for their journey comes from a veteran Swedish police inspector, Paul Forell, who was present when such a team arrived at Stockholm's Bromma airport on the night of Dec. 18, 2001.

Forell told Sweden's Channel 4 last year that those arriving at the airport included eight Americans wearing hoods and two others in business suits who introduced themselves only by their first names and said they were from the U.S. Embassy in Stockholm.

"They were very professional in their way of acting. They acted very deftly, swiftly and silently," Forell said, adding that he had the impression the team had carried out many previous renditions.

The two Egyptian-born suspects, Ahmed Agiza and Muhammed al-Zery, who had been arrested earlier in the evening by Swedish security police, were handcuffed and their clothes cut from their bodies.

Suppositories apparently intended as a sedative were inserted into their anuses, and diapers were put on both men, followed by dark overalls, blindfolds and hoods that completely covered their heads.

The prisoners were put aboard an unmarked Gulfstream that had flown to Stockholm from Washington's Dulles airport.

The Stockholm Gulfstream, a later model 5 that bore the tail number N379P, also has been spotted in Karachi and Gambia during other renditions.

After the plane landed in Cairo at 2:35 a.m. the next day, al-Zery and Agiza were taken to Masra Tora prison. According to Swedish government documents made public by Channel 4, when the two men were visited by the Swedish ambassador five weeks later they told him they were being tortured.

Neither man was found to have any Al Qaeda connection, and al-Zery was released without charges. Agiza, who previously had been convicted in absentia of membership in an Egyptian Islamic radical organization, was sentenced to 25 years in prison.

Former Army Intelligence officer Phillip Carter has more on the subject of extraordinary rendition at his excellent blog, Intel Dump.

Damn, that's all I have to say.
OK, are people supposed to be outraged?
Only those possessing a soul, scruples, and a view of government promoting the idea of a nation of laws rather than cults of personality.

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