Thursday, September 8, 2011

At the Intersection of Terrorism and Privilege

How US Firms profited from Torture Flights.

I think that the title says it all, really. And to be perfectly honestly, to see our mighty captains of industry charging to due a patriotic duty for their country brings a tear to my eye. Of course, it's probably not for any patriotic reasons...

And, of course, something to help set the mood.

The scale of the CIA's rendition programme has been laid bare in court documents that illustrate in minute detail how the US contracted out the secret transportation of suspects to a network of private American companies.
The manner in which American firms flew terrorism suspects to locations around the world, where they were often tortured, has emerged after one of the companies sued another in a dispute over fees. As the 10th anniversary of 9/11 approaches, the mass of invoices, receipts, contracts and email correspondence – submitted as evidence to a court in upstate New York – provides a unique glimpse into a world in which the "war on terror" became just another charter opportunity for American businesses.

Why - why-o-why - don't we hear this stuff from our own media? Why do I have to go the Guardian to get this, when it's about my own country? This isn't even making rounds anywhere in the media. I didn't even hear about it until I took a trip over to Dispatches, where I read it for the first time. It's not a matter of me being shocked - oh no, I'm too jaded anymore to be shocked - it's raw frustration anymore.

What we have here is private companies jumping on the CIA's rendition program, and how they contracted out their flights to private American companies who would fly terrorists to locations around the globe, to the secret black prisons, where the CIA would torture them for... I'm not sure what purpose. It's not to prevent terrorism. This won't prevent terrorism anymore than torture prevented witchcraft. If anything, that who bit about the Inquisition should serve to teach us something. Magic, hexes, spells, and all the other stuff do not exist. They never have. And until evidence appears to back them up, they never will. Witchcraft as was imagined did not exist. But look at how many people were convicted - with torture as their aid - and executed for witchcraft as was imagined.

Torture gains convictions. False ones.

But when your country is full of rabid, scared children who've forgotten what it means to be adults and face your fears, and accept uncertainty, that doesn't mean a damn thing. We run to the bosom of the first person offering us safety, because we're scared. "Yes, I'll give you safety. I'll give you all the safety you want, just sit back and don't worry, because you won't have to do anything anymore..."

You know, if I'd typed this not even ten years ago, people would think I was a conspiracy loon. Secret CIA prisons over seas, black book projects to torture dissidents in the name of whatever sick mockery is being passed off as freedom this week, and continued denial of such programs by our president(s) and our government itself.

But remember: this is for your safety.
The New York case concerns Sportsflight, an aircraft broker, and Richmor, an aircraft operator. Sportsflight entered into an arrangement to make a Gulfstream IV executive jet available at $4,900 an hour rather than the market rate of $5,450. A crew was available to fly at 12 hours' notice. The government wanted "the cheapest aircraft to fulfil a mission", Sportsflight's owner, Don Moss, told the court. But it was the early days of the rendition programme, and business was booming: the court heard that Sportsflight told Richmor: "The client says we're going to be very, very busy."
Invoices submitted to the court as evidence tally with flights suspected of ferrying around individuals who were captured and delivered into the CIA's network of secret jails around the world. Some of the invoices present in stark detail the expense claims that crew members were submitting on their secret journeys, down to £3 biscuits and £30 bottles of wine.
These companies need to be boycotted. But they won't be. I'd boycott them, but it won't do any good, because I technically already am. I don't have the money to fly, and I wouldn't even if I did. I'm not subjecting myself to the mini-fascist state that is the airport anymore.

The cowardice of my own countrymen stopped amazing me a long time ago. Anymore, I expect it. It's surprising to me when I see someone standing up and condemning this from any position of authority. We're marching lock and step towards a nation I don't want to live in, and you probably don't want to either. If you live outside of the United States, I'd tell you to consider yourself lucky, but this seems like a perennial problem. There's certainly a racially driven aspect to it - after all, Muslims are the first thing that people think about when we talk about terrorism. Never White, Christian men. This is a side affect of being privileged - if you have privilege, you can never be a terrorists no matter how many people you kill. But if you're a minority, especially one unfortunate enough to be associated with terrorism to begin with (or even indirectly; don't get me started on those fuckwits who beat to death that Sikh after 9/11 because they thought he was Muslim, what with his turban and all).

Of course, the irony here is that you alienate people - you alienate the very people who you need the help from the most. You alienate the Muslim population, and by doing that, a significant number begin to see the West as anti-Muslim, which is what bin Laden was saying it was all along, and thus, you end up with more individuals using violence as a means of political change, and thus the cultural stereotype gets reinforced on all fronts and the cycle continues.

But even then, that's only for a small amount of persecuted individuals.

The largest amount want nothing more than to live their lives. And day by passing day, that's becoming all the more difficult. Maybe it's the fact that I taught a few Muslim students before. Maybe it's the fact that I'm friends with a few. Maybe it's the fact that my Dunbar number isn't preceded by a Square Root sign. Whatever it is, I empathize with them. Most Americans do too, I'll reason. But at the same time, who do you think the government targets? I've argued with people that racial profiling is not how you catch criminals, only to be told that Tim McVeigh and Scott Roeder are one-off causes; lone wolf gunmen. No use in taking every White, Christian male you see and torturing them to find out what evil, treacherous plot they're hatching to kill the next abortion doctor.

If you listen to our Media, you'd believe that was the case, too. There's organizations pulling the strings behind the recent rash of Christian terrorism, but then, we all know there's no such thing. Groups like Operation Rescue, and the Army of God, are noble, just organizations just out to save those unborn babies from those dirty sluts. Obviously they can't be terrorists - see they're Christian White men talking down to women of all colors. That alone makes them "not terrorists." The intersection of terrorism and societal privilege is a disturbing one.

And speaking of the media;
Richmor was providing the aircraft for DynCorp, a private military company, which was acting on behalf of the CIA. The bills for the operation passed through Sportsflight and a second aircraft broker, Capital Aviation. Portions of DynCorp were sold by its parent company in 2005. The entity that was sold became known as DynCorp International.
The aircraft's ultimate owner was Phillip Morse, an American businessman with substantial sporting interests who was subsequently appointed vice-chairman of Fenway Sports Group, the company that owns Liverpool FC. In between rendition flights the aircraft was used to fly the Boston Red Sox baseball team.
The same plan that flew individuals people to be tortured in overseas black prisons flew the Red Sox to a game.

Figure that juxtaposition.
One Gulfstream jet has been identified as the aircraft that rendered an Egyptian cleric known as Abu Omar after CIA agents kidnapped him in broad daylight in Milan in February 2003 and took him to Cairo, where he says he was tortured.
Another invoice, for $301,113 relating to a series of flights over eight days that took the Gulfstream jet on an odyssey through Alaska, Japan, Thailand, Afghanistan and Sri Lanka, tallies with the rendition of Encep Nuraman, the leader of the Indonesian terrorist organisation Jemaah Islamiyah, better known as Hambali.
Other invoices follow flights that appear to have been involved in the rendition of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the man said to have masterminded the 9/11 attacks. After being captured in 2003, Mohammed disappeared into the CIA's secret prisons, where he was waterboarded 183 times in just one month, according to a US justice department memo. The invoices also show the aircraft flying in and out of Bucharest, where one of the CIA's secret prisons is now known to have been located. On one occasion, the court heard, the jet flew direct from a European airport to Guantánamo. The court heard that in October 2004 the aircraft's tail number was changed, to N227SV, after the US government discovered that its movements were being tracked. The following March the aircraft was publicly linked to the Abu Omar rendition.
They kidnapped him in broad daylight. In Italy.

So if you thought you were safe overseas from the United States Government, guess what? You were wrong. I also hear nothing from Italy on this, so I guess they were complacent. After all, the biggest bully on the globe is also the only one to have used nuclear weapons and has a good portion of the population that suffers near-psychotic breaks from reality, living in a fantasy land where they're somehow a viciously persecuted majority. And these people manage to get into power.

Yes, I don't blame you for being scared.

I'm utterly terrified.

Oh, and because it's obligatory - if you people are foolish enough to think that all this stuff stopped under Obama, and there there's none of this going on anymore, guess what?

You'd be wrong.

See, once you give up civil liberties, then they not to come back. 

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