Tuesday, January 03, 2006

 

Joint Special Operations Command


From records compiled by the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration and other public sources, 65 aircraft that appear to be owned, leased or operated by the CIA or the Joint Special Operations Command, an interagency unit that organizes counterterror operations in conjunction with the CIA and military special forces.

Those planes, which come in all shapes and sizes, are used for a variety of tasks, including carrying CIA officials to meet with foreign counterparts and moving U.S. intelligence officers and paramilitary units around the world on short notice.

Records show that the 65 aircraft in total logged at least 19,494 flights since Sept. 11, 2001, or about a dozen a day. But only a tiny percentage of those flights is likely to have involved renditions. In 2002, then-CIA Director George Tenet said there had been only about 70 CIA renditions. Earlier last year, Egyptian Prime Minister Ahmed Nazief told the Tribune that 60 to 70 suspected terrorists had been rendered to Egypt alone.

Published estimates attributed to unnamed sources put the total number of renditions since Sept. 11 at 100 to 120, with some suspects known to have been deposited in Syria, Jordan and Morocco.

For transporting suspects the CIA typically uses a specially outfitted Boeing 737 or smaller executive jets, most with relatively limited range. Following a trans-Atlantic crossing such planes usually need to refuel at the earliest opportunity. The same is true for planes returning to the U.S. from Europe and the Middle East.

Flight records show numerous landings at traditional fuel stops at Shannon, Ireland, in Portugal, and in Scotland, where human-rights campaigners recently staged protests at the Edinburgh, Glasgow and Prestwick airports.

The flight records contain no indication of what those planes were carrying.

See Chicago Tribune plus year-in plus tactics spread

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