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CIA Private Jet Takes Prisoners on Torture Trips
When you step on board a 14-passenger Gulfstream V jet plane, you expect to be treated to a flight teeming with luxuries. The Gulfstream is, after all, a favorite small jet for corporate CEOs and celebrities. Stepping onboard the Gulfstream V with tail number N44982 is quite a different experience for many of its passengers. They arrive handcuffed, leg-ironed and hooded. Their destinations are not the business capitols or luxury resorts such small jets are normally seen at. They are being flown to countries that legally allow torture. They won't enjoy the flightthey'll be heavily sedated and wearing disposable adult diapers all the way.
The jet belongs to Bayard Foreign Marketing, Inc. of Portland, Oregon, an apparent CIA front corporation whose listed owner, Leonard T. Bayard, doesn't appear in any of the normal records such as utilities or business transaction records, a real person would be expected to generate. Bayard bought the jet November 18, 2004, from Premiere Executive Transport Services, Inc. of Dedham, Massachusetts, another company whose officers and directors have newly-minted Social Security numbers and post-office-box addresses, but don't have a history of residences, work, telephone usage or business activities. This is typical of CIA front companies used to mask U.S. involvement in covert operations.
The jet, which is cleared to land at U.S. military bases worldwide, is used for what the CIA refers to as rendition." That is the removal of a prisoner from U.S. (or another country that formally forbids torture) custody to the custody of a nation that allows torture for the extraction of information and confessions and for administrative purposes. Most prisoners rendered are suspected of being al-Qaeda members or supporters. The practice of rendition has been steadily growing since 9-11, the government's universal excuse for breaking the rules of common decency.
The jet was originally assigned the tail number N58lGA when it was manufactured. It was later changed to N379P, then to N8068V, before arriving at its current number, N44982. Is it unusual for a plane to change tail numbersyes. Will the FAA tell anyone why it frequently changed the jet's tail numbersno.
The N8068V number assignment has even been cleaned up by the FAA so that number is now listed as having been assigned to a Robinson R22 helicopter that was exported to South Africa in 1993.
Public records link the officers of Premiere Executive Transport to five post office boxes. A total of 325 names are registered to those five boxes.
A check by the Washington Post of 44 of those names showed no business or personal records normally associated with real identities. Additionally, although those persons had birthdates in the 1940s, 1950s, and 1960s, their Social Security numbers were all issued between 1998 to 2003.
The jet has been spotted on October 26, 2001, removing Jamil Qasim Mohammed, a Yemenite microbiologist, a suspect in the USS Cole bombing, from Islamabad, Pakistan, where he had been arrested by Pakistani authorities. On December 18, 2001, the jet was spotted in Sweden were it swept up Ahmed Agiza and Muhammad Zery, two Egyptian men who had applied for political asylum there. Special Swedish security police handed the men, who were wearing red overalls and were fettered with handcuffs and leg irons, over to hooded, American-accented men in the dead of night in a distant corner of Stockholm's Bromma Airport, according to Cold Facts, a Swedish television news program that interviewed airport officials and government officials. At the time of the rendition, the Swedish public was told it was an extradition to Egypt with no mention made of U.S. involvement.
Both men complained of having been dressed in nappies" and involuntarily sedated for the flight, then tortured with beatings and electric genital shock while in Egyptian custody. Agiza was convicted of terrorism-related charges by the Supreme Military Court of Egypt. Zery was released from custody. Sweden is now investigating the decision to allow rendition.
In January 2002, the jet was seen at the military airport in Jakarta, Indonesia, where it whisked away Muhammad Saad Iqbal Nadni, an Egyptian suspected of assisting al Qaeda shoe bomber Richard C. Reid. He too was taken to Egypt according to Indonesian officials.
Plane spotting hobbyists stand at the end of runways and use high-powered binoculars, cameras and video recorders to track aircraft. Some of them specifically seek secret and other government planes. They communicate via websites. According to these web pages, the plane has been spotted in Islamabad, Pakistan; Karachi, Saudi Arabia; Dubai; Syria; Tashkent, Uzbekistan; Baghdad, Iraq; Kuwait City; Baku, Azerbaijan; and Rabat, Morocco. It appears to be based out of Dulles International Airport, the closest major airport to CIA headquarters in Langley, Virginia, but has also made frequent stops at the military airport at Amman, Jordan and airports in Frankfurt, A.M., Germany, Glasgow, Scotland; and Larnaca, Cyprus.
Dennis Plakais, a lawyer in Dedham who filed the Massachusetts incorporation papers for Premiere Executive Transport refused to discuss anything about the company when contacted by the Boston Globe. The address of Plakais's law firm is listed as Premiere's address in the sales records for the jet. The same no comment" was given when Scott Caplanthe Portland lawyer who filed Bayard Foreign Marketing's Oregon incorporation papers and whose suite is listed as that corporation's addresswas contacted by the Chicago Tribune.
Plakais's law firm also shares its address with Crowell Aviation Technologies, Inc, a company showing only one employee and annual revenue of $65,000 according to Dun & Bradstreet. Yet Crowell has permission to land aircraft at U.S. military bases worldwide, a privilege it shares with only eight other companies, including Premiere Executive Transport.
Premiere Executive Transport sold another plane, a 2000 Boeing 737, the same day it sold the Gulfstream to Bayard Foreign Marketing. The company that bought the 737, Tate Management LLC of Reno, Nevada, lists its address as the address of the lawyer that incorporated it. It also has a single owner, Tyler Edward Tate, who also does not appear in the usual public records.
The Sunday Times of London reported that the 737s flight logs showed it was based at Dulles International Airport and landed at a minimum of 49 foreign destinations including Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, many other U.S. military bases; and airports in Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Afghanistan, Morocco, Libya, and Uzbekistan. The sale of the planes seems to have been triggered by an initial Sunday Times report that appeared ten days prior to the sales date.
It is little surprise that the self-proclaimed world leader for human rights and freedom sponsors torture flights. One needs only to examine U.S. behavior to see what the government of that country truly believes in. A little more surprising is the ease at which journalists were able to roll up" the identities of CIA front companies and aliases. This seems to mean that the CIA officials are either lazy or stupid when it comes to covering their covert activities. But with total impunity for kidnapping and torture, who needs to be secret about it.
Sources: Washington Post, Chicago Tribune, indymedia.org, The Independent (UK); The Australian.
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