THOLOS OF ATHENA

Thursday, November 02, 2006

MORE FROM SMITHFIELD

Well, I received a response to my letter below which I wrote to the Smithfield, NC Mayor and City Council members, asking for their response to the CIA torture flights that have been leaving from the Smithfield airport. One lone city council member, Thomas Bell, responded to my inquiry.

And I sent him a reply to his response. Here is his email to me and my email reply. I think we call this "internet activism."
From: Thomas Bell, Smithfield City Council member.
Dear Mr. Harper:

Thank you for your note.

Do you have any evidence to support the allegation that there are laws being broken by Aero Contractors?

Thanks,
Tom

* * *

Dear Mr. Bell,

I appreciate your response, the only one I've received from anyone in the Smithfield city government.

The internet is lit up with stories datelined, "Smithfield, NC." According to the Smithfield Herald, twelve members of the North Carolina House of Representatives (none from Johnston Country*) claim that Aero Contractors, under the direction of the CIA, "has flown persons detained in various countries and the U.S., to other countries," where the suspects were "held incommunicado and tortured, using methods that would have been illegal in the U.S."

In an interview on Sept 6, Bush acknowledged the existence of the program.

Trevor Paglen, an expert in clandestine military installations and A.C. Thompson, an award-winning journalist for S.F. Weekly, have spent months tracking CIA flights and the businesses behind them, and have written about it in their book, Torture Taxi: On the Trail Of The CIA's Rendition Flights. They cite Smithfield specifically and nearby Kinston, as two of the towns that host CIA planes and pilots.

According to Paglen and Thompson, plane spotters have been able to connect the dots of planes departing from airfields at certain times in the U.S. to their arrivals at Guantanimo and other CIA sites, and to some of the victims of torture who were on those flights.

On May 31st, the story was covered in detail in The New York Times, by Scott Shane, Stephen Grey and Margot Williams.

According to their story, Aero Contractors is, in fact, a major domestic hub of the Central Intelligence Agency's secret air service. The company was founded in 1979 by a legendary CIA officer and chief pilot for Air America, the agency's Vietnam-era air company, and it appears to be controlled by the agency, according to former employees."

Of course, the CIA has declined to comment on any of these stories. But records filed with the Federal Aviation Administration provide a detailed, if incomplete, portrait of the CIA's aviation wing. The NY Times says the fleet includes a WWII era DC-3 and a sleek Gulfstream V executive jet, as well as "workhorse Hercules transport planes and Spanish-built aircraft that can drop into tight airstrips. The flagship is the Boeing Business Jet, based on the 737 model, which Aero flies from Kinston, N.C., because the runway at Johnston County is too short for it."

"But the facility that turns up most often in records of the 26 planes is little Johnston County Airport, which mainly serves private pilots and a few local corporations."

You ask if I have any direct evidence that the allegation is true, and, of course, you know that I do not. But if it "looks like a duck, walks like a duck, and quacks like a duck. . . ."

Given the overwhelming circumstantial evidence that you can read yourself in greater detail than I have room to document in an email, the question is whether you have any real curiosity or interest in getting at the truth? And should you find the truth to substantiate the allegation, what would be your next move?

Best regards, and, Happy Halloween!

Grayson Harper

*Smithfield is in Johnston County.

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