The CIA's "rendition" flights have given rise to a hobbyist subculture of plane-spotters. But how many of them have wondered if those flights also carried a non
The controversies surrounding these "torture flights" have found a human focus
: A lawyer in Portland, Oregon named Scott Caplan. Caplan represents a man named Leonard Bayard, the alleged CEO of Bayard Foreign Marketing, the ostensible owner of one of the torture planes.
Trouble is, no evidence proves the existence of Bayard. This story
from the Columbia Daily Tribune offers an amusing account of the attempts to track the man down. "Bayard" kept an address in a rundown section of Portland, where neither he nor anyone else was never seen. Telephone inquiries were backstopped to CIA headquarters.
The "Bayard" jet is known informally as the Guantanamo Bay Express
. It changes N-numbers more rapidly than some men change their pants.
Originally N581GA, it became N379P in 2000 when it was acquired by Premier Executive Transport Services. In December 2003, it became N8068V. On 1 December 2004 it was renamed N44982, and ownership was transferred to Bayard Foreign Marketing, an apparent shell company registered in Portland, Oregon. It was renamed once more on January 20, 2006 to N126CH, and registered to XXXXX, 2930 Biscayne Blvd, Miami, FL 33137-4122. It was sold and reregistered to Wilmington Trust Company, 1100 N Market St, Wilmington, Delaware on August 18, 2006
Sometime in late 2006, the records for N44982 seem to have disappeared from the FAA's resgistration database.This page
suggests that the plane is now owned by a firm called Keeler & Tate Management, which is probably another dummy front. Premier Executive Transport Services
was another apparent on-paper-only company.This report
from Amnesty has the most extensive listing I could find of the front companies used by the CIA's air transport division. I noted the presence of our old favorite, Evergreen Aviation -- aptly named, since they've been doing work for the CIA for decades. (I've heard some ultra-odd stories about the Evergreen facility in Arizona, although I was never able to verify them.)
I hope some of you will recall the Skyway drug jet series (here
), in which a "spooky' jet was found on the tarmac in Mexico with 5.5 tons of coke on board. Tracking the jet's ownership proved difficult. For the longest time, the owner of record was a known con artist, but just before the bust, ownership had transferred to a mysterious entity out here in California.
That operation may be linked to the CIA rendition flights.(To read the rest, click "Permalink" below)Before proceeding, you must realize is that the Skyway bust was hardly the first one. Also understand that, for whatever reasons, five tons (or thereabouts) seems to be the standard coke payload on these flights.
With those facts in mind, let me re-quote the earlier piece:
Hopsicker scores a breakthrough, however, when he identifies a major stockholder in Skyway (which, you will recall, was a scam operation designed to bilk investors): Argyll Equities of Boerne, Texas, a subsidiary of the the Argyll group of La Jolla.Some readers may now suspect that Gitmo is used not just as a prisoner "interrogation" center but also as a drug transshipment point. If that's true (and I've yet to see hard evidence), then we may fairly presume that this activity is probably known to whomever holds, in real life, the position held by Jack Nicholson in A Few Good Men.
Argyll previously arranged for a $17 million loan to a Mexican businessman, who in turn provided "significant capital" to a
“Chilean narcotics trafficker" named Manuel Vicente Losada, arrested in the Chilean capital of Santiago after being “linked to a shipment of five tons of cocaine which U.S. drug enforcement officials in Miami intercepted over six years ago on the vessel Harbour, as it headed toward Guantanamo Bay.”"Guantanamo Bay"? asks Hopsicker. The implications hang in the air.
Has the Guantanamo Bay Express been carrying just prisoners? Is prisoner rendition a cover story, at least for some of the flights?
I'm not alleging that prisoner transport to places of torture does not occur. We have harrowing tales by the prisoners themselves; see the accounts here and here.)
Still, I would like you to note this passage from the Amnesty report:
The Gulfstream IV plane that took Abu Omar to Egypt from Germany after his kidnapping in Italy. Its owners have admitted leasing the plane to the CIA, but have said it is not used exclusively by the agency. There are 488 relevant recorded landings or takeoffs between February 2001 and July 2005.The aircraft is configured to hold between ten and twenty-two prisoners. 488 flights times ten prisoners equals -- well, the calculation is simple. Keep in mind that this is not the only plane doing this sort of service, and that the prisoners in Gitmo were largely brought there (I believe) in military craft.
Everyone is now waking up to the fact that most of those detainees in Cuba were innocents, fingered by local Afghans to collect the reward offered by Americans. Are we to believe that the United States has really captured thousands of genuine Al Qaeda terrorists? We know from 9/11: Press for Truth (and other sources) that the American military deliberately allowed Al Qaeda fighters to escape -- by plane! -- from Afghanistan to the wilder areas of Pakistan.
CIA rendition flights have taken off and landed in Spain, the U.K., Switzerland, Norway, Portugal, France, the Czech Republic, Ireland, Belgium, Germany, Greece, Thailand, Uzbekistan and other nations. Although officially civilian, the jets are allowed to land at American military bases. Virtually anything could be shipped without detection on those flights.
Look at the destinations. Look at the transport capacities. Look at America's apparent unwillingness to deal with the real Al Qaeda fighters.
Then ask yourself: Do you think prisoner rendition is the only reason for all those flights?