Thursday, November 17, 2005

Torturers' Theater, cont.

After breaking the story on Nov. 2 and following it up a couple of times with stories about Congress' threat to investigate the leakers, the Washington Post has gone oddly silent on the "Black Sites" scandal. A defensive retreat? Let's hope not. Whatever the case may be, the Post's silence has given the European press a chance to run with the story. Le Monde reports in this afternoon's edition that Norway, Sweden, Morocco and Spain are investigating the landings of CIA prison-planes ("avions-prisons") on their territories. Yesterday the Norwegian government demanded explanations from the State Department regarding the lay-over of a CIA plane in Oslo on July 20. The Swedish press agency TT claims two CIA planes landed on various occasions in 2002 and 2005 in Sweden, with Guantanamo a destination for at least one of them. Morocco's Journal Hebdomadaire meanwhile confirms that, according to Morocco's DST (Morocco's FBI equivalent), Morocco has taken part directly in the CIA's rendition program, with at least ten CIA landings in Morocco between 2002 and 2005. Morocco's involvement in renditions hasn't been a secret though; see these stories in The Guardian and the New Yorker, for example, and Morocco's history of anti-Islamist repression, documented by Reporters without Borders, makes the necessity of "black sites" there redundant. The advantage of North African and Mideastern member-countries of the CIA's catch-and-torture network is that secret prisons in those countries are as much part of the landscape as torture implements make up the prisons' furniture of choice. Spain's Daily El Pais reports that four CIA prison-planes have made at least ten lay-overs on the island of Majorca (Robert Graves's old haunt) between January 2004 and January 2005. The dates are notable because they post-date Spain's severance from top-tier membership in the coalition to defeat All Evil Ones, following the ouster of Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar and his replacement by the Bush-bashing JLR Zapatero more than a year ago. So has Zapatero been speaking out of both sides of his mouth? Or is Spain's equivalent of the FBI, its CNI, acting not only in concert with the CIA, but acording to rules promulgated by its law-aboving fliers? Le Monde runs an interesting pciture of one of the CIA planes in question, a handsome, all-white Boeing (if my meager eye for planes is correct). The plane is unmarked but for its international license plate, which is either N44769 or N44765. I rule out the first, because the FAA registry lists it as a single-engine plane registered to a fellow in Grass Valley, Calif. The second number is registered to a deregistered plane (and it appears to have been tracked around and connected to the landings in Majorca), which raises the question: Is the CIA inventing numbers for its fleet? Not much of a question, given the agency in question. There's a whiter bone to pick. The CIA prison-plane is discretely, if offensively, striped in blue and red. One should prefer that one's national colors not be the ribbons of prison-planes. Of course when it comes to the CIA and its terror-war patrons, individual preference is not of this, or their, world.