FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

CIA’s "Torture Taxi" in the Spotlight

by MIKE FERNER

Sitting in a Georgia motel Saturday night, Kathy Kelly talked through a bad phone connection and a worse head cold to recount the previous day’s activities where she and 13 others were arrested at an airstrip outside Raleigh, North Carolina.

The tiny Johnson County Airport is home to Aero Contractors Corp., a firm described by the New York Times as “a major domestic hub of the Central Intelligence Agency’s secret air service,” that shuttles prisoners abroad for interrogation and suspected torture. The Times reports Aero was founded in 1979 by the chief pilot for Air America, a CIA “front” in Vietnam.

In addition to Kelly, those arrested Friday included residents of a Raleigh Catholic Worker house and members of Stop Torture Now, a project of the Center for Theology and Social Analysis in St. Louis, Missouri. Protesters walked onto company property and lowered the flags to half-mast before being arrested.

Local supporters included members of the North Carolina Council of Churches, Amnesty International, and the War Resisters League. They participated by dressing like Guantanamo prisoners in orange jumpsuits, holding a banner that said “Aero Contractor CIA Torture Taxi,” and delivering a four-count “indictment” to current and former heads of the CIA and company officials for violating U.S. and international laws against torture.

Kelly, a leader in the movement to stop the U.S. war on Iraq, said she got arrested because of a growing concern over the government “becoming increasingly blatant about its role in torture. People need to stand up before it becomes more risky.”

Asked what she meant by that, she replied, “At this point here in the U.S., we don’t face any of the risks of people who stood up against the Salvadoran death squads. We are perhaps inconvenienced, but there are no massacres, our family members aren’t being killed. That’s why we need to stand up now.”

What worries her most, she explained, are not reports of torture coming out of U.S.-run prisons in Iraq or secret sites around the world. “The U.S. has always excepted itself from international norms of human decencybut now some are starting to say, ‘It’s ok. We’re the U.S. We have to do anything to make sure we’re never attacked again.’ It’s disturbing to see how tolerant we’ve become.”

“You hear people say, ‘Well, Saddam was a lot worse than the CIA so we have to do it in order to keep people like Saddam from hurting people.’ That is really faulty thinking,” the Nobel Peace Prize nominee added. “We are using some of the exact same torture cells Saddam used! When we apprehend Iraqis they might be good guys, but by the time they leave after three days, they’re bad guys, is how one soldier explained it. And look at the woman bomber arrested in Jordan. She had three brothers killed in Iraq and the person she married was held three days and tortured. If we think terrifying people is a way to build security, we’re misguiding ourselves in a terrible way. Real protection lies in building just and fair relationships.”

While Kelly and the others were being arrested Friday morning, copies of the “indictment” were delivered to members of the Johnston County Council and the Johnston County Airport Commission asking that officials take action to revoke Aero Contractors’ lease for engaging in illegal activities at the public airfield.

After her arrest at the Johnston County Airport, Friday, Kelly traveled to Ft. Benning, Georgia, to join over 15,000 people gathered for the annual protest against the Army’s School of the Americas, which critics say trains Latin American soldiers in counterinsurgency tactics including torture. She and the 13 people arrested outside Raleigh were released on $500 bond and given dates in January to appear in court in Johnston County.

MIKE FERNER is a freelance writer from Ohio. He can be reached at: mike.ferner@sbcglobal.net

 

Mike Ferner is a writer from Ohio and former president of Veterans For Peace.  You can reach him at mike.ferner@sbcglobal.net

More articles by:

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

zen economics

March 27, 2017
Robert Hunziker
A Record-Setting Climate Going Bonkers
Frank Stricker
Why $15 an Hour Should be the Absolute Minimum Minimum Wage
Melvin Goodman
The Disappearance of Bipartisanship on the Intelligence Committees
Patrick Cockburn
ISIS’s Losses in Syria and Iraq Will Make It Difficult to Recruit
Russell Mokhiber
Single-Payer Bernie Morphs Into Public Option Dean
Gregory Barrett
Can Democracy Save Us?
Dave Lindorff
Budget Goes Military
John Heid
Disappeared on the Border: “Chase and Scatter” — to Death
Mark Weisbrot
The Troubling Financial Activities of an Ecuadorian Presidential Candidate
Robert Fisk
As ISIS’s Caliphate Shrinks, Syrian Anger Grows
Michael J. Sainato
Democratic Party Continues Shunning Popular Sanders Surrogates
Paul Bentley
Nazi Heritage: the Strange Saga of Chrystia Freeland’s Ukrainian Grandfather
Christopher Ketcham
Buddhism in the Storm
Thomas Barker
Platitudes in the Wake of London’s Terror Attack
Mike Hastie
Insane Truths: a Vietnam Vet on “Apocalypse Now, Redux”
Binoy Kampmark
Cyclone Watch in Australia
Weekend Edition
March 24, 2017
Friday - Sunday
Michael Hudson
Trump is Obama’s Legacy: Will this Break up the Democratic Party?
Eric Draitser
Donald Trump and the Triumph of White Identity Politics
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Nothing Was Delivered
Andrew Levine
Ryan’s Choice
Joshua Frank
Global Coal in Freefall, Tar Sands Development Drying Up (Bad News for Keystone XL)
Anthony DiMaggio
Ditching the “Deep State”: The Rise of a New Conspiracy Theory in American Politics
Rob Urie
Boris and Natasha Visit Fantasy Island
John Wight
London and the Dreary Ritual of Terrorist Attacks
Paul Buhle
The CIA and the Intellectuals…Again
David Rosen
Why Did Trump Target Transgender Youth?
Vijay Prashad
Inventing Enemies
Ben Debney
Outrage From the Imperial Playbook
M. Shadee Malaklou
An Open Letter to Duke University’s Class of 2007, About Your Open Letter to Stephen Miller
Michael J. Sainato
Bernie Sanders’ Economic Advisor Shreds Trumponomics
Lawrence Davidson
Moral Failure at the UN
Pete Dolack
World Bank Declares Itself Above the Law
Nicola Perugini - Neve Gordon
Israel’s Human Rights Spies
Patrick Cockburn
From Paris to London: Another City, Another Attack
Ralph Nader
Reason and Justice Address Realities
Ramzy Baroud
‘Decolonizing the Mind’: Using Hollywood Celebrities to Validate Islam
Colin Todhunter
Monsanto in India: The Sacred and the Profane
Louisa Willcox
Grizzlies Under the Endangered Species Act: How Have They Fared?
Norman Pollack
Militarization of American Fascism: Trump the Usurper
Pepe Escobar
North Korea: The Real Serious Options on the Table
Brian Cloughley
“These Things Are Done”: Eavesdropping on Trump
Sheldon Richman
You Can’t Blame Trump’s Military Budget on NATO
Carol Wolman
Trump vs the People: a Psychiatrist’s Analysis
Stanley L. Cohen
The White House . . . Denial and Cover-ups
Kollibri terre Sonnenblume
Marines to Kill Desert Tortoises
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail