The Boeing Co., with help from its government friends, was able to stifle much of the information about its role in those infamous, and still-ongoing, CIA "extraordinary rendition" flights over the past four years. A challenge by the ACLU was thrown out after the U.S. claimed that revealing details about the torture flights arranged for the CIA by Boeing subsidiary Jeppesen Data Plan Inc. would harm national security.
But a trove of similar details--1,700 operational and legal documents--has been languishing in a New York court filing room, showing how a plane belonging to Boston Red Sox and Liverpool Football Club mogul Phillip Morse --one often used to fly sports teams--was employed by a flight broker to ferry suspected terrorists to Guantanamo Bay and secret CIA prisons.Attorneys for London-based legal charity Reprieve, which has been probing the CIA program, brought the records of the suit (charter company Richmor Aviation vs. aviation broker SportsFlight) to the attention of The Washington Post, the Associated Press, and The Guardian, who are reporting the details this morning.
As Reprieve says in its press release, "Astonishingly, whereas in the case brought in 2007 by the American Civil Liberties Union against flight planner Jeppesen for facilitating torture flights, the government stepped in and used 'state secrets privilege' to shut down proceedings [but] in this parallel instance no effort was made to cover up the incriminating stream of documentation which Richmor's suit entailed."
The court files, according to the BBC, include contracts, flight invoices, mobile-phone records, and correspondence. "In many cases, the flights coincide with the arrests and transport of some of prominent terrorism suspects captured in the months after the 9/11 attacks."
The records include flight itineraries that appear to match the arrest and transport of accused 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheik Mohammed. The private jets were also given U.S. state department transit letters providing diplomatic cover for their flights, which sometimes cost as much as $300,000. One of the jet crews filed expenses claims for $20 sandwiches and $40 bottles of wine.
The companies involved included DynCorp, a leading government contractor that secretly oversaw a fleet of luxury jets, says the AP, as well as a catering company that unwittingly stocked the torture flights with fruit platters and bottles of wine.
During the New York trial--in which Richmor won a $1.6 million verdict last year (later cut to $874,000)--Richmor president Mahlon Richards described passengers as "government personnel and their invitees," though he also said there were allegations his planes had been used to fly "terrorists" and "bad guys."