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

 

More articles by:

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

January 17, 2018
Seiji Yamada
Prevention is the Only Solution: a Hiroshima Native’s View of Nuclear Weapons
Chris Welzenbach
Force of Evil: Abraham Polonsky and Anti-Capitalist Noir
Thomas Klikauer
The Business of Bullshit
Howard Lisnoff
The Atomized and Siloed U.S. Left
Martha Rosenberg
How Big Pharma Infiltrated the Boston Museum of Science
George Wuerthner
The Collaboration Trap
David Swanson
Removing Trump Will Require New Activists
Michael McKinley
Australia and the Wars of the Alliance: United States Strategy
Binoy Kampmark
Macron in China
Cesar Chelala
The Distractor-in-Chief
Ted Rall
Why Trump is Right About Newspaper Libel Laws
Mary Serumaga
Corruption in Uganda: Minister Sam Kutesa and Company May Yet Survive Their Latest Scandal
January 16, 2018
Mark Schuller
What is a “Shithole Country” and Why is Trump So Obsessed With Haiti?
Paul Street
Notes From a “Shithole” Superpower
Louisa Willcox
Keeper of the Flame for Wilderness: Stewart “Brandy” Brandborg
Mike Whitney
Trump’s Sinister Plan to Kill the Iranian “Nukes” Deal
Franklin Lamb
Kafkaesque Impediments to Challenging Iran’s Theocracy
Norman Solomon
Why Senator Cardin is a Fitting Opponent for Chelsea Manning
Fred Gardner
GI Coffeehouses Recalled: a Compliment From General Westmoreland
Brian Terrell
Solidarity from Central Cellblock to Guantanamo
Don Fitz
Bondage Scandal: Looking Beneath the Surface
Rob Seimetz
#Resist Co-opting “Shithole”
Ted Rall
Trump Isn’t Unique
January 15, 2018
Rob Urie
Democrats and the End(s) of Politics
Paul Tritschler
Killing Floor: the Business of Animal Slaughter
Mike Garrity
In Targeting the Lynx, the Trump Administration Defies Facts, Law, and Science Once Again
Thomas Hon Wing Polin
Hong Kong Politics: a Never-Ending Farce
Uri Avnery
Bibi’s Son (Or Three Men in a Car)
Dave Lindorff
Yesterday’s ‘Shithole Countries’ Can Become Classy Places Donald, and Vice Versa
Jeff Mackler
Lesser Evil Politics in Alabama
Jonah Raskin
Typewriters Still Smoking? An Interview with Underground Press Maven John McMillan
Jose-Antonio Orosco
Trump’s Comments Recall a Racist Past in Immigration Policy
David Macaray
Everything Seems to Be Going South
Kathy Kelly
41 Hearts Beating in Guantanamo
Weekend Edition
January 12, 2018
Friday - Sunday
George Burchett
Wormwood and a Shocking Secret of War: How Errol Morris Vindicated My Father, Wilfred Burchett
Roberto J. González
Starting Them Young: Is Facebook Hooking Children on Social Media?
Jeffrey St. Clair
Between the Null and the Void
Andrew Levine
Trump After Bannon: What Next?
John Davis
Mud-Slide
Ajamu Baraka
The Responsibility to Protect the World … from the United States
Robert Hunziker
Global Warming Stirs the Methane Monster
Paul Street
Lazy Liberals and “the Trump Effect”
Carmen Rodriguez
Trump’s Attack on Salvadoran Migrants
Mike Whitney
Oprah for President, Really?
Francisco Cabanillas
The Hurricane After Maria
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail