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Torture Taxi: On the Trail of the CIA's Rendition Flightsby Trevor Paglen
Synopses & Reviews
“A report on clandestine Central Intelligence Agency activities, including the maintenance of secret military bases with detention facilities, known as black sites, in Afghanistan and elsewhere…. Were so used to being fed politics as fantasy entertainment, by art and the media, that we end up never being sure when were looking at the real thing...”
—The New York Times
SURPRISE BUSH ANNOUNCEMENT CONFIRMS DETAILS OF
NEW BOOK ON SECRET CIA PROGRAM
SEPTEMBER 6, 2006—In a surprise admission, President Bush today confirmed widespread suspicion that the U.S. has maintained a network of secret prisons since 9/11—the first time the administration has acknowledged a secret CIA program despite worldwide criticism for the treatment of detainees, including accusations of torture and international kidnapping.
The announcement confirms charges made in a new book, Torture Taxi:On the Trail of the CIA's Rendition Flights, the first book on the secret U.S. program.
The “extraordinary rendition” program the president spoke of is part of what has become the largest single U.S. clandestine operation since the end of the Cold War. However, the President said that he would not divulge specifics of the CIA program, because “Doing so would provide our enemies with information they could use to take retribution against our allies and harm our country.”
But investigative journalist A.C. Thompson—winner of a 2005 Polk Award for investigative reporting—and “military geographer” Trevor Paglen have systematically investigated the CIA program for more than two years, learning much about the specifics of the CIAs operations. In a series of journeys investigating the agency, they have uncovered all of the major elements of the CIAs rendition and detention operations.
In Torture Taxi, they travel to suburban Massachusetts to profile a CIA front company that supplies the agency with airplanes; to Smithfield, North Carolina, to meet pilots who fly CIA aircraft; study with a “planespotter” who tracks CIA planes in the Nevada desert; and go to Afghanistan to visit the notorious “Salt Pit” prison and interview released Afghan detainees.
Contradicting the Presidents depiction of the CIA program as a legal and useful tool for bringing terrorists to justice, Torture Taxi proves that the CIAs operations since 9/11 have been tainted by torture and a long series of intelligence failures.
Book News Annotation:
"Tail spotters" have long tracked the comings and goings of individual airplanes as a sort of hobby, but the authors (one a winner of journalism's George Polk Award) of this book found that in combination with other techniques of investigative journalism it served as an invaluable tool for exposing the broad contours of the US government's "extraordinary rendition" program, in which individuals are picked up by the US government and whisked all over the world to secret US detention facilities, facilities run by cooperative governments, and elsewhere, often to find themselves tortured in the name of the "War on Terror." They describe the results of their investigations, exposing the travels of the CIA "torture taxi" planes, the network of detention facilities, and the experiences of some of the detainees in the Kafkaesque netherworld of the "extraordinary detention" program. Annotation ©2007 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
"We don't kick the shit out of them. We send them to other countries so that they can kick the shit out of them."-A US official involved in CIA renditions
In a daring first-person investigation, an award-winning investigative journalist and a "military geographer"expose the torture apparatus of the CIA, revealing both the workings of its top-secret-and officially denied-"extraordinary rendition"transport system and the clandestine "black sites,"where terror suspects are held.
It is a story that takes them around the country and around the world: By following CIA planes from the Western deserts to Ireland, Afghanistan, and elsewhere, and by using FAA data, corporate records, and Army aircraft documents, AC Thompson and Trevor Paglen uncover an international program involving corrupt domestic politicos, civilian aircraft operators, and the highest levels of government.
What they discover, in this first book to systematically investigate the US practice of "extraordinary rendition,"is shocking proof of widespread kidnapping and torture by a government that says none of it is happening.
AC Thompson, winner of the 2006 George Polk Award for investigative journalism, is a senior writer at TheSan Francisco Bay Guardian. He has written for Salon,The Nation,In These Times,The San Francisco Examiner, and The Oakland Tribune.
Trevor Paglenis an expert on clandestine military installations. He is the author of the two-volume study Secret Bases, Secret Wars.
About the Author
Trevor Paglen is an expert on clandestine military installations. He leads expeditions to the secret bases of the American west and is the author, with AC Thompson, of Torture Taxi.
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