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CIA extraordinary rendition

Keith Parkins | 15.12.2005 16:15 | Analysis | Anti-militarism | Repression | World

See no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil, that is the chorus of George W Bush, Condoleezza Rice, Tony Blair and Jack Straw. Or are they all just blatantly lying?

'The argument makes no sense unless there is an assumption that the purpose of rendition is to send people to a place where things could be done to them that could not be done in the United States. Rendition doesn't become a tool in the war against terror unless people are being sent to a place where they can be interrogated harshly.' -- David Luban, law professor at Georgetown University (currently a visiting professor at Stanford University)

'Unless we start to believe in conspiracy theories and that officials are lying, I'm lying and behind this there is some kind of secret state in league with some dark forces in the US and we believe Secretary [of State Condoleezza] Rice is lying, there is simply no truth in claims that the UK has been involved in rendition.' -- Jack Straw, UK Foreign Secretary

'It is crystal clear the UK must investigate allegations it has been complicit in torture. Checking for instances of the US requesting permission [to land planes in the UK] is simply derisory.' -- Andrew Tyrie, chairman UK Parliament group on rendition

'Whilst we are glad at least that the Government has taken notice of the growing concerns about extraordinary rendition, the Foreign Secretary’s comments are particularly worrying for the answers that they pointedly do not contain.' -- Shami Chakrabarti, Director of Liberty

See no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil, that is the chorus of George W Bush, Condoleezza Rice, Tony Blair and Jack Straw.

Around the world there is a growing demand for an inquiry into extraordinary rendition by the CIA – where the flights are going to and fro, who is being shipped, what is being done to the detainees.

The Council of Europe and the European Parliament are the most recent to call for an inquiry. The Council of Europe has criticised as 'deplorable', the refusal of US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to provide information on extraordinary rendition by the CIA.

Can we believe UK Foreign Secretary Jack Straw to be telling the truth? Not really, not if his track record on Iraq is anything to go by.

Aircraft spotters, who notice the slightest anomaly in the aircraft they observe, have identified aircraft flying in and out of the UK that are believed to be CIA front companies. Plane spotters have identified one such private jet as a Gulfstream 5 N379P.

One obvious airport, apart from military bases, to fly clandestine flights would be Farnborough Airport. It lacks customs, immigration control and special branch presence. It is a business airport, with a significant percentage of its business being flights to and fro the Middle East.

TAG Aviation, who operate Farnborough Airport, deny any such involvement. But what worth is such a denial? CIA flights, do not, like EasyJet, have a CIA logo on the side of the aircraft. One also has to look into the background of those behind TAG Aviation, people who hide behind off-shore accounts, Saudi background, involvement in arms deals.

Human Rights group Liberty has named Farnborough Airport as one of the UK airports being used for extraordinary rendition and called upon the Chief Constable of Hampshire Constabulary Paul Kernaghan to investigate.

Whether or not Straw is telling the truth, how far has he dug, is he being told the truth?

The Shayler Affair raises serious questions on how far Straw may have dug.

As Home Secretary, Straw was responsible for MI5.

Straw claimed to be unaware of monitoring of client confidential meetings between a lawyer and her client. There was a transcript (now destroyed).

Straw denied intelligence existed on bombing of the Israeli Embassy. Such intelligence did exist. Furthermore, Palestinians gaoled for the attack may have been set up by Mossad.

As Foreign Secretary, Robin Cook was responsible for MI6.

Robin Cook blatantly lied about the MI6 plot to kill Colonel Gaddafi, claiming the plot to be 'pure fantasy'. He refused to carry out an inquiry. Worse still, he viciously attacked (without naming him) David Shayler for exposing the plot.

British newspapers were unable to reveal the plot, for fear of reprisals from the UK government.

Details of the plot were finally revealed in the States, then confirmed when a former intelligence officer published an MI6 document on the net detailing the plot. Information from Libya has also helped confirm the plot, as did BBC Panorama. [New York Times 5 August 1998]

An anonymous former agent published on the net the MI6 CX document on the plot with the following comment:

'I have just about had it up to here with the lies of minsters. It is difficult to imagine a more serious abuse of power than MI6 funding our terrorist enemies with the result that innocent people are murdered in cold blood. If there had been a legal way of presenting that document to independent investigators, I would have used it. As there was not, I had to resort to the Internet. Thank God for modern technology.'

Had the MI6-funded plot succeeded, Al-Qaeda would now be running Libya.

MI5 has lied to the commissioner responsible for overseeing phone taps. The commissioner did not trouble to talk to the officer who had requested the tap.

Tony Blair's Intelligence and Security Committee (allegedly has intelligence oversight), is vetted by the intelligence services, has no powers to compel intelligence officers to appear before it, those officers who do appear before are not questioned under oath, the committee reports to Blair not Parliament.

Is the ISC given a full and open and honest account? Not if we are to believe Stephen Lander, former head of MI5 [Daily Telegraph 16 March 2001]:

'I blanch at some of the things I declined to tell the committee early on. It hasn't always been comfortable. I could not claim to have agreed with all of Mr King's and his colleagues' judgments.'

David Shayler tried to give evident to the ISC. They refused to listen to him. This though did not stop members of the ISC from smearing David Shayler both on and off the record.

David Shayler tried to brief Robin Cook, Jack Straw and Tony Blair. They refused to listen to him. When he tried to talk to the press, the State gagged both him and the press, and charged him under the Official Secrets Act.

There may be some one deep within the intelligence services who knows about extraordinary rendition. If they do, there is nowhere for them to go. If they were to go to Straw, Blair, the ISC or a member of parliament, they would be committing an offence under the Official Secrets Act.

So when Straw says he knows nothing about extraordinary rendition, what exactly does he mean, as the track record on these issue to date does not inspire a great deal of public confidence?

We were lied to on the reasons for the war with Iraq (even Bush has admitted the intelligence was wrong), lied to about 911, are we now being lied to about the CIA and extraordinary rendition?

Earlier this year, File on Four (BBC Radio 4) reported on illegally held detainees (some of whom had been kidnapped or illegally renditioned from Europe and North America) being shipped out to 'friendly' Middle East countries for torture and interrogation. US/UK then make use of the intelligence product.


Colin Brown, Rendition victim was handed over to the US by MI6, The Independent, 14 December 2005

Colin Brown et al, Row over CIA 'torture' flights engulfs Blair, The Independent, 14 December 2005

Nafeez Mosaddeq Ahmed and John Leonard, The War on Freedom, Tree of Life Publications, 2002

William Blum, The CIA: A forgotten history, Zed Books, 1986

William Blum, Killing Hope: US Military and CIA Interventions Since World War II, Common Courage Press

William Blum, Rogue State, Common Courage Press, 2000

Noam Chomsky, Rogue States, Pluto Press, 2000

Noam Chomsky, Hegemony or Survival, Hamish Hamilton, 2003

Lindsey Eudo-Mitchell, Torture flight links denied, Farnborough News, 9 December 2005

Annie Machon, Spies, Lies and Whistleblowers: MI5, MI6 and the Shayler Affair, Book Guild, 2005

Keith Parkins, Intelligence Services Unaccountable and Out of Control?, January 1999

Keith Parkins, Grauniad smears Chomsky, Indymedia UK, 19 November 2005

Keith Parkins, 911 – a route to war or an excuse for war?, 8 December 2005

Keith Parkins, Spies, Lies & Whistleblowers, Indymedia UK, 8 December 2005

Keith Parkins, Death of free speech in Blair's Britain, Indymedia UK, 13 December 2005

John Pilger, The New Rulers of the World, Verso, 2003 {updated edition}

Keith Parkins