Thursday, February 23, 2006

N157A CIA light - You are cleared to depart on runway 22 left - Have a pleasant flight and we hope all your passengers survive.

According to this news report the CIA has been using Canadian airports on a regular basis for what may be extraordinary rendition flights and there have been a lot more than previously reported or suspected.

Internal government briefing notes obtained Wednesday also reveal senior intelligence officials from six federal agencies, including Canada's spy service, met in late November to discuss the flights.

The memos underscore the level of concern in government circles about public fears the
CIA has been ferrying terrorist suspects through Canada to foreign prisons.

We now know, through the compilation of official data, that known CIA aircraft flew into Canadian airports at least 74 times since 11 Sept. 2001. Whether any or all of them were related to the practice of extraordinary rendition, we do not know. The CIA flies for a multitude of reasons. However, given the number of flights, it is reasonable to assume that at least some of them were involved and the Canadian government was concerned enough to investigate the issue.

The records released Wednesday under the Access to Information Act include an undated secret memorandum, titled Alleged CIA Aircraft in Canada, prepared by Privy Council Office officials for then-deputy prime minister and public safety czar Anne McLellan.


The Nov. 29 meeting included security officials from PCO, the Canadian Security Intelligence Service, Public Safety, Canada Border Services, Foreign Affairs and Transport Canada.

The agenda indicates they reviewed federal policy on "rendition" - the term often used to describe the transfer of suspected terrorists by the United States to countries where they may be more easily imprisoned and interrogated.

The officials also discussed the government's "public position" on the planes issue and the question of "U.S. engagement" - presumably a reference to raising the issue with American counterparts.
The Canadian Border Services and NavCanada state that all aircraft followed the proper administrative and operational procedures. Planes which are not remaining in Canada do not need to disembark their passengers and are not required to provide physical proof of persons onboard.

Well, that's good.

Given the CIA's proclivity for false fronts and a vacant paper trail the fact that they observed all the necessary Canada Customs and airspace requirements is very encouraging. I wonder though, were there any Jetsgo callsigns in the compiled data?

I was going to suggest that we change our inspection procedure at Canadian airports by requiring Border Service inspectors to board aircraft which do not disembark... but then I remembered who now forms government. No chance.

That doesn't change one fact: Extraordinary rendition is illegal.

(Thanks to reader Catherine for the link)

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