CIA Renditions Airplanes Previously Transported Sports Teams

Washington Post uncovers strange, chilling details of the murky program

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A billings dispute settlement out of an upstate New York court has revealed details about the CIA's rendition program, report The Washington Post's Peter Finn and Julie Tate. "For all the secrecy that once surrounded the CIA’s rendition program, a significant part of its operation was entrusted to very small aviation companies whose previous experience involved flying sports teams across the country." The goings-on of the renditions program has been somewhat murky and the case has brought some chilling and bizarre specifics to light.

Among those elements: the planes took long and expensive trips, one costing $339,228.05.

On Aug. 12, 2003, a Gulfstream IV aircraft carrying six passengers took off from Dulles International Airport and flew to Bangkok with fueling stops in Cold Bay, Alaska, and Osaka, Japan.

Before it returned four days later, the plane also touched down in Afghanistan, Sri Lanka, the United Arab Emirates and Ireland. As these unusual flights happened, U.S. officials took custody of an Indonesian terrorist, Riduan Isamuddin, who had been captured in Thailand and would spend the next three years being shuttled among secret prisons operated by the CIA.

The flights were very covert.

One letter is dated March 1, 2003, the date of the capture of Khalid Sheik Mohammed, the self-proclaimed mastermind of the Sept. 11 attacks. That suggests that the Richmor plane was used to transport him out of Pakistan, but there is no invoice for the relevant flight in the court record.

Even the planes' owners didn't always know what was going on.

Ryan, Richmor’s attorney, said the company president became aware of what the planes were actually being used for shortly after the flights began.

'It was obvious,' he said. 'They flew to Guantanamo and Germany and the Middle East with regularity.'

Or, as Richards put it while on the stand: 'We were transporting government personnel and their invitees.'

Read the full story at The Washington Post.

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.