Sunday, November 8, 2009

Torture flights, a Montana plane ... have a seat for this one

Posted By on Sun, Nov 8, 2009 at 8:33 PM

Last weekend the Guardian reported that a plane connected to CIA "torture flights" was met by British special forces at a British airport — and that the plane is registered to a company in Montana.

This isn't the first time the plane's made the news: It crashed in Romania in 2004 after a flight from Bagram Airbase in Afghanistan, and the European Parliament claimed seven passengers disappeared after the accident. The Guardian reports that the parliament "deplored the CIA's use of Romania as a stopover for extraordinary renditions of terror suspects including the British national Binyam Mohammed."

Torture flights are part of the U.S.'s "extraordinary rendition" program, which involves abducting suspected terrorists and criminals from foreign soil without any extradition or legal proceedings, and taking them to other countries or CIA prisons for interrogation.

The plane involved in both incidents is a Gulfstream Aerospace IV under the registration number N478GS. According to records, it's owned by L-3 IS in Great Falls, which stands for L-3 Integrated Systems. The Secretary of State lists Great Falls attorney Gary Bjelland as the registered agent for the company. When contacted by a reporter on Friday, Bjelland referred calls to an attorney in Alexandria, Va., who did not respond to messages.

The Indy got the heads up about the Guardian article from a reader last week. That tip reminded us of research former Indy staffer/current Great Falls Tribune reporter John S. Adams did a number of years ago on ... the same Great Falls plane and rumors of torture flights. We spoke with Adams Friday and he confirmed that he's finished an in-depth story for the Trib on this topic and we'll link to it as soon it's online that you can find here.

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