Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Fly the Tortured Skies of [the] United --- [States of America]


Amnesty International today released a new report which exposes a covert operation whereby people have been arrested or abducted, transferred and held in secret or handed over to countries where they have faced torture and other ill-treatment. The report describes how the CIA has used private aircraft operators and front companies to preserve the secrecy of "rendition" flights. . .the CIA has exploited aviation practices that would otherwise require their flights to be declared to aviation authorities. The report lists dozens of destinations around the world where planes associated with "rendition" flights have landed and taken off -- and lists private airlines with permission to land at US military bases worldwide.

Amnesty International has records of nearly 1,000 flights directly linked to the CIA, most of which have used European airspace; these are flights by planes that appear to have been permanently operated by the CIA through front companies. In a second category, there are records of some 600 other flights made by planes confirmed as having been used at least temporarily by the CIA. . .

"The US Administration has tried to circumvent the ban on torture and other ill-treatment in many ways. The latest evidence shows how the Administration is manipulating commercial arrangements in order to be able to transfer people in violation of international law. It demonstrates the length to which the US government will go to conceal these abductions," said Amnesty International Secretary General, Irene Khan.

The report uncovers part of the mystery surrounding the practice of renditions. Secrecy surrounding rendition operations means it is impossible to know how many people have been arrested or abducted, transferred across borders, held in secret detention or tortured in the 'war on terror'. Information from governments themselves indicates that numbers are likely to be in the hundreds. . .

"Most victims of rendition were arrested and detained illegally in the first place. Many were abducted, denied access to any legal process and have subsequently "disappeared". All of those interviewed by Amnesty International described being tortured or otherwise ill-treated."

"The callous and calculated multiplicity of abuses is shocking. People captured have been subjected to a range of abuses of human rights by a number of governments acting in collusion, and all of this has been shrouded by secrecy and deceit," said Ms Khan.

"The report shows not just how arrest and extradition procedures have been ignored, the ban on torture and other ill-treatment has been disregarded, but also how aviation practices have been undermined: in essence the rule of law has been put aside."

Amnesty International cautioned that states that tolerate these flights landing on their territory and companies that carry them out, may find themselves complicit in serious human rights abuses. . . The Egyptian prime minister noted in 2005 that the US has transferred some 60-70 detainees to Egypt alone, and a former CIA agent with experience in the region believes that "hundreds" of detainees may have been sent by the US to prisons in Middle Eastern countries. The USA has acknowledged the capture of about 30 "high value" detainees whose whereabouts remain unknown, and the CIA is reportedly investigating some three dozen additional cases of "erroneous rendition", in which people were detained based on flawed evidence or confusion over names.
Lawless George, at it again. Spreadin' democracy, spreadin' torture, it's hard work. More here.

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