2011 September 03 Saturday
CIA Secret Flights Detailed In Court Case

Many flights where the US Central Intelligence Agency moved suspected terrorists around are now a matter of public record.

WASHINGTON On Nov. 8, 2002, a Richmor Gulfstream, Tail No. N85VM, took off for Shannon Airport in Ireland, then to Dubai, in the United Arab Emirates, on a flight that paralleled the arrest that month of USS Cole bombing suspect Abd al-Nashiri.

It was the first of a run of secret long-distance flights by the Gulfstream between 2002 and 2005 that paralleled the suspected movements of captured al-Qaida and other terrorist leaders who vanished into CIA-run black prisons after their arrests following the Sept. 11 attacks.

You might expect the CIA to keep this sort of stuff secret. But a billing dispute between two companies involved in these flights has spilled into public records filed in a lawsuit. Apparently the CIA made no effort to prevent this from happening.

Incompetence or calculation?

The CIA operates with the power of a sovereign government and has been given legal authority to do things with a degree of secrecy that most agencies are not allowed to have. Does it lack the legal authority to, say, buy its own airplanes and then operate them without record of where they've been? Can't it rent an airplane with a contract that does not record where the airplane is going to go? Maybe just rent by the 25,000 mile increment?

Anyone understand how competent the CIA is at keeping secrets it really wants to keep?

Share |      By Randall Parker at 2011 September 03 10:03 AM  Terrorists Western Response

bbartlog said at September 4, 2011 5:39 AM:

Only the CIA can answer that question, of course. But I vote for incompetence in this particular case. If all they wanted was the deterrent effect of knowing that rendition was something that could happen, that was already achieved prior to this leak; the particulars add nothing.
As for operating their own planes, it sounds like something they would rather outsource to professionals. I believe that the US aviation infrastructure makes it really very difficult to manage some sort of traceless passage where there is no record of your plane going from A to B. The CIA could keep it in-house, but then there would be records at various airports of CIA plane arrival and departure, rather than records for subcontractor/front company XYZ Air Transport.

Lou Pagnucco said at September 4, 2011 9:48 AM:

Most of their "secrets" are only such to the public.
James Bamford's book "Body of Secrets" illustrates this well.

A proper facade is always presented publicly - Google "Operation Mockingbird" for the CIA-Media nexus

Probably, it is far better for the nation that The Media promotes inspirational falsehoods rather than dispiriting facts.

Fortunately, whenever embarrassing items appear, they quickly fade from public consciousness - if not belabored.

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