If you want someone to disappear — never to see them again — you send them to Egypt," Robert Baer, a former CIA agent, famously said. For the White House — most notoriously, then- vice president Dick Cheney — the renditions helped the US avoid the Geneva Convention and US laws that prohibit use of torture to extract information. The Bush administration, which authorised the extraordinary renditions , believed it could not be held responsible for the mistreatment of prisoners — so long as the torture happened in another country. A few hours after Anwar's story came online, it was posted on FreeRepublic.
The registration number immediately drew the attention of aviation enthusiasts. Within minutes, an anonymous blogger going by the pseudonym "ExSES" dug out details about the aircraft, including the name of its owner: Premiere Executive Transport Services. Kind of like Air America," wrote "TexasChip", another blogger, hinting at the airline that the CIA once used as a cover for its operations, including the arming of anti-communist guerrillas in Laos.
Nation: A PERT Man for the CIA - TIME
While this information would be key to exposing the rendition programme, it would take two more years for it to become mainstream news. Renditions, Full Throttle. Over the next three years, more people disappeared under similar circumstances from various countries, including Indonesia, Sweden, Egypt, Morocco and Thailand. He was accused of having links with the infamous British shoe-bomber, Richard Reid. A few days later, Madni was stripped, beaten and shackled from neck to feet, before being taken aboard a plane.
It was the same jet with the registration NP that had first been sighted in Karachi. Two months later, they filed what became the first detailed story, which hinted at the practise of taking prisoners to Middle Eastern countries. While they were able to link the disappearances in Pakistan and Indonesia with a Gulfstream V jet, the Post reporters didn't follow up on the jet's registration number.
Over the following months, other journalists, along with human rights activists, started enquiring about the whereabouts of some missing people, especially those who had been arrested in Europe. In December , another team of Post reporters, Dana Priest and Barton Gellman, ran a story about the inhuman treatment of suspected terrorists in US detention centres, including the Bagram airbase in Afghanistan.
The powerful quotes and information contained in that story became fodder for lawyers and human rights activists for years to come. But it was not until mid that the actual scale of the CIA's global torture network became public. And, once again, it was the article by Masood Anwar that started the avalanche of revelations.
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It was the morning of January 23, , and Josep Manchado, a town planner, was hanging around the local airport on the Spanish island of Majorca. A few years earlier, he had begun pursuing a childhood passion of photographing aircraft. Hobbyists like Manchado are known as planespotters. They hang around airport fences in their spare time, taking pictures of jets and noting specifications. What they did as a hobby would prove crucial in proving the existence of the rendition programme. As he prepared to leave, a friend told him about a business jet parked in a corner of the airport.
I also commented on how clean the jet appeared [to be] and the antennas it had.
That picture was of a Boeing executive jet with no company logo, the type only super-rich people can buy. As it turned out, it was part of the CIA's rendition fleet. On the same day Manchado took the picture, it was used to transfer another prisoner — Khalid El Masri, a German citizen. Masri, a father of four, was on a vacation when Macedonian agents arrested him at the Serbian border on December 31, Accused of being a terrorist, he was handed over to the CIA. On January 23, , he was put on a jet from Skopje, the Macedonian capital, to Afghanistan.
Manchado's photograph became a key clue for journalists at Germany's broadcaster ZDF, who were able to prove Masri had been kidnapped and taken to another country. Around the same time, another team of journalists at Sweden's TV4 was working on the case of two missing Egyptian men. Their lawyers said that the men had been kidnapped , flown from Stockholm to a prison in Cairo, and tortured.
Up until then, no one had been able to link the jets and kidnappings with the US government in any convincing way. Facebook was launched in early , but hadn't yet become ubiquitous. Twitter and other social media apps were years away.
Masood Anwar's story was on the internet, but had been long forgotten. Then TV4' s Fredrik Laurin came across it. Laurin and his colleagues worked on a documentary for months before it was broadcast on the Swedish channel on May 17, They established that the jet was owned by a company in Virginia which did business exclusively with the US government. They also found that two kidnapped men — Ahmed Agiza and Mohamed el-Zery — had been taken in a jet with the registration number NP. While stationed at Camp Detrick, Maryland, in the early 50s, Frank worked on biochemical weapons and a somewhat informal-sounding drug trial that seemed to lead him into paranoia and mental breakdown.
Did he throw himself out of that window during a flashback or moment of hopelessness, or were more sinister forces at work? As subjects go, Eric is a gift: sincere, articulate, thoughtful and with just enough of a sense of drama to inject the necessary theatre into proceedings. In episode four, there is even a gravedigger.
No kidding. Morris and Olson take their time over the details with occasional interjections from other contributors. And the whole thing is given life by overlapping dramatic reconstructions in which Peter Sarsgaard plays Frank as a brittle, unhappy figure. The documentary segments often adopt trippy visual stylings which, rather than distracting from the content, draw you sleepily into it. Suicide begins to look unlikely. As a result, the chapter on prayer is the only one missing a biographical profile. However, the Anglican Communion which has included him among Holy Women and Men in its lectionary celebrates his feast on December 10th.
There has been renewed controversy about the cause of his death. The widely accepted official story has been that it was an accident, that he was electrocuted by a faulty fan, while coming out of a shower.
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However, the cause of death given by the Thai police was a heart attack, and there was no autopsy. Was Thomas Merton murdered and was there a cover-up? In , Jim Douglass, a friend of Merton had already publicly raised the issue. In , theologian Matthew Fox, who believes that Merton had been assassinated by one of the many CIA agents active in Thailand, reported that one of them had actually told him so.
In a paper presented this summer in Rome at the Thomas Merton Symposium, David Martin and Hugh Turley presented the findings of their book, The Martyrdom of Thomas Merton: An Investigation , which discloses photographic evidence and picks holes in the accidental electrocution story. Was the turbulent priest got rid of?
Nation: A PERT Man for the CIA
His prophetic spirit lives on. The revolution in Irish laws and social attitudes is one of the major national achievements of the past half-century. But in many corners of the world, the struggle remains as dangerous — and as vital — as it ever was. Many threatened communities have awoken to the realisation that if they wish to grow and flourish, they need to identify their strengths, plan carefully and do much of the heavy lifting themselves.
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