Tuesday, November 30, 2004

Coffee, Tea, or Extraordinary Rendition? 

Question: if you wanted to kill your husband and you hired someone else to do it instead of popping him yourself, you'd be perfectly innocent in the eyes of the law, wouldn't you? Well, wouldn't you?
[T]he inconspicuous office above a Sovereign Bank, across from the red, white, and blue flags of a used car lot called Patriot Motors, is also the address of a shadowy company that owns a Gulfstream jet that secretly ferried two Al Qaeda suspects from Sweden to Egypt.

That prisoner transfer, which occurred outside the normal extradition procedures and without notifying the men's lawyers, sparked an international uproar after the two men contended that they had been forcibly drugged by masked US agents and tortured with electric shocks in Egypt.

This spring, the Swedish government launched a series of investigations into the 2001 operation.

Since that time, the jet -- apparently on long-term lease to the US military -- has surfaced in other alleged cases of what the CIA calls "extraordinary" rendition -- the secret practice of handing prisoners in US custody to foreign governments that don't hesitate to use torture in interrogations.

The covert procedure, which must be authorized by a presidential directive, has gained little attention inside the United States.

Yet, "extraordinary rendition," one of the earliest tools employed in the war against terror, has outraged human rights activists and former CIA agents, who say it violates the international convention on torture and amounts to "outsourcing" torture.

"People are more or less openly admitting that there are certain practices that we would rather not do in the US, so why not let our allies do it?" said Ray McGovern, a former CIA operations officer who has frequently criticized the tactics used in the war on terror.

The Sunday Times of Britain reported two weeks ago that it had obtained a classified flight log of the plane that showed 300 flights from Washington, D.C., to 49 nations, including Libya, Jordan, and Uzbekistan -- three countries where the State Department has reported the use of torture. The story focused on the jet and Premier Executive Transport Services, the Massachusetts-registered company that owns it.

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