Scottish Police Probe 'Torture Flights'

Scottish police have launched an investigation of so-called CIA "torture flights" that allegedly transport captured terrorism suspects to undisclosed locations for interrogation, according to the Glasgow Sunday Herald. The investigation is the latest sign of growing European unease with U.S. policy of "extraordinary rendition."

The probe was triggered by a Sunday Herald series last month that reported that CIA planes had stopped at two Scottish airports 149 times for refueling and logistical support.

"The program," the SH said, "targets suspected Islamic terrorists, captures and delivers them to US-friendly nations which are quite happy to use torture to get the information the US wants for the war on terror."

Former CIA counterterrorism officer Michael Scheuer defended the practice of rendition, but said he favored classifying the terror suspects as prisoners of war and questioning them in the United States under the terms of the Geneva Convention. That proposal, he says, was rejected by both the Clinton and Bush administrations

"We shot ourselves in both feet," Scheuer told the SH.

Craig Murray, the former British ambassador to Uzbekistan, said the British government ignored his reports that terror suspects sent there were routinely tortured.

"I warned ministers it was illegal," he said. "But the politicians were very keen to just keep going ahead."

The CIA declined to comment.  "One CIA official merely laughed when told that Scottish police were to investigate," the SH reported.

As The Post's Dana Priest reports today, "Parliaments in Canada, Italy, France, Sweden and the Netherlands have opened inquiries into alleged CIA operations that secretly captured their citizens or legal residents and transferred them to the agency's prisons."

By Jefferson Morley |  November 2, 2005; 8:06 AM ET  | Category:  Europe
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Kidnapping suspects abroad and bringing them to a country where they can be tried fairly and accorded all the rights of a prisoner of war is fine.

But it personally disgusts me that my country, working alongside America, is actively torturing people for information. It's not simply a case of turning a blind eye when CIA jets land in Britain to refuel before taking a suspect to some of the less savoury regimes on Earth to be tortured. We're actively using the information gathered in such obscene fashion. And, putting aside the moral objections, no information got through torture is ever reliable.

So its of dubious value and it deprives us of the moral highground when compared to mass-murdering terrorists. I despair I really do. Good luck to the Scottish Police, but they're not going to get anywhere.

Posted by: David Patrick, UK | November 2, 2005 08:45 AM

An intriguing fact is that this is not news. Why has it appeared now? It was being reported in the Glasgow 'Herald' many months ago after plane spotters discovered that US planes owned by the CIA, but with fake identities, were making clandestine runs to the countries to which the US subcontracts its torturing. But now that the 'Post' has highlighted it, perhaps it will get some attention and action to stop it. And once that has been dealt with, perhaps the UN will send in weapons inspectors to do something about the US stockpiles of WMDs!

Posted by: Andrew Foster | November 2, 2005 09:17 AM

Kidnapping suspects and putting them in secret prisons where they can be tortured for life puts us in the same (or lower)moral category as Joseph Stalin and Kim Jong-Il. History will judge.

Posted by: Bob | November 2, 2005 09:17 AM

Bob: I disagree that "extraordinary rendition" puts the U.S. government in the same moral category as Stalin and Kim Jong-Il. That's not a defense of the policy. Its a defense against sweeping generalizations.

As for why the story appears now, Andrew, the fact is that the Post has been reporting on extraordinary rendition for some time now. And the Sunday Herald's story on the Scottish investigation didn't run "many months ago." It ran on October 23.

Posted by: Jefferson Morley | November 2, 2005 09:38 AM

I was at Yellowstone in the summer of 2004 and ran into a man, about 65 years old, who lived in NJ. He told me that all the Muslims in NJ should be put in jail. I reminded him we did that with the Japanese Americans in 1942 and it is something we now regret. He said we regret it now, but maybe at the time it was a good idea. I was shocked! This was coming from a man who should know what discrimination does to a nation. But it opened my eyes to a change creeping into America, a change that has let Bush get away with invading a country that did not attack us, uses and approves of torture, outs CIA agents related to those who openly disagree with his administration, and lies to get his way. This is an example of how evil creeps into a society. Americans needs to stand up and reclaim the high ground, and expel those who are abusing the great power and honor of this nation. If we don't, it will only get worse. The republicans will continue their push to move America in a direction it has never gone before. And when you look around for those who think its wrong, you will find few who thinks its a bad thing.

Bush and the republicans are changing Americans for the worse. He is an immoral leader. We use to say it cannot happen here, but this is how it began everywhere else where evil crept into a society. Do not be surprised when you hear friends saying that maybe torture isn't so bad if it protects us. I have already heard it a lot.

Posted by: Sully | November 2, 2005 09:42 AM

all in the name of God, er Allah, and Jesus... are you still there? is there such a thing as kindler/gentler torture - that puts non-terrorist Christians, Jews, and Muslims on a moral highground higher than terrorists? Maybe the torture is in the air and not on soil but over international waters.

the value of torture is not in the information aquired - but in the satisfaction of superiority felt by the torturer that he and his kind are superior - idiologically, morally, spiritually... heck they even look better...

working alongside America, the Scottish Police would have more luck investigating the claim that a man was seen walking on water... and they wouldn't have to torture anyone to get answers.

'investigation' is not a biblical term ... or one used in the Tora or Koran, is it?

Posted by: anon | November 2, 2005 09:58 AM

All the excessive policies that the Bush administration has carried out are going to blow back on the United States. Many American politicians and citizens are very disconnected from the views of the rest of the world. And that's not a good thing.


Posted by: Martin Ostrye | November 2, 2005 10:08 AM

Wow! Have we all forgotten 9/11? How do you think we are going to get on-going information to prevent another attack? You think these fanatics are going to voluntarily provide us information that will help us protect ourselves? War is war - there is nothing pretty about it. We have tried your "Lets be nice" policy during the Clinton administration and you see how effective that was. Wake up and decide you enjoy your freedoms and are willing to defend them - even if it occasionally forces us to be more agressive than we would prefer.

Posted by: Pamela | November 2, 2005 10:21 AM

There you go a right wing likudnik freeper on the prowl (Pamela). There is always a troll that believes US freedom is more important than the rest of the world. Yet they call others fanatics. Do not worry this is exactly how an empire falls. The evil has already crept in my fellow travellers - US has been getting away with torture for a long time. Even before Vietnam.

Posted by: Ray | November 2, 2005 10:31 AM

Hey Pam, a few questions:

-How are we "defending our freedoms" in Iraq?

-Do you support jailing those of the Muslim faith in America to protect America?

-Do you wonder why bin Laden is still free four years after he attacked us? Japan surrendered three and a half years after they attacked us.

-War is not pretty, but does it mean we forget who we are, ignore our own laws and lie to the American public for their own good?

-Do the ends justify the means?

Posted by: Sully | November 2, 2005 10:42 AM

Pamela wrote: "How do you think we are going to get on-going information to prevent another attack?"

Well, not through torture. There's a reason why information gathered that way is unreliable. Someone who is being tortured will tell the torturer anything to stop being tortured. Absolutely anything.

So we're betraying EVERYTHING Britain and America stands for for information that frankly cannot be trusted?

Posted by: David Patrick, UK | November 2, 2005 11:52 AM

You said that "...the Sunday Herald's story on the Scottish investigation didn't run "many months ago." It ran on October 23". This may have been the first story of the police investigation, but in fact, the 'Herald' has been reporting the affair for a long time now.

The point is that it cannot be denied that the information has been in the public domain for many months, while little or nothing has been done about it by the governments and law enforcement agencies until now.

Posted by: Andrew Foster | November 2, 2005 12:29 PM

My ex-boyfriend works for the CIA and is involved with terrorism investigations. I think the saddest thing about the CIA is that they destroy people's lives. Not just the lives of the prisoners, but the lives of CIA officers who do the "dirty" work for the administration. The long term effects of the jobs that they do during times of war are irreversable and to the administration, they are just another number.

Posted by: Kelly | November 2, 2005 01:11 PM

Guess some people need to watch the history channel more often. Or actually buy a book about some of the past successful strategies for protection of a culture or a country. There is not one statement of fact by any of the press in any of these articles. It is all based on supposition and yet people are condemning the American government for something they may or may not be participating in. In stead of taking potshots from the side, get involved in your local government and start improving the system from the bottom up. When is the last time any of you have taken an active part in the political system or better yet - voted? Usually most of these comments come from side line people who have all the solutions, but none of the motivation to implement them to see if they really work they way they thought. If you don't want to be just a number, be involved.

Posted by: Pamela | November 2, 2005 01:50 PM

I love the History Channel. I'm sure you'll be watching their upcoming program on the Crusades :^}

But I'm more a fan of FrontLine. Its a PBS show. They take a current news story and dig deeper than any other news program I've seen. Here's a link to a report on the Bush administration's development of its torture policy:

Here a link within the PBS program dealing specifically with the "rendition" policy as described in the article we're all blogging about:

Oh, and I'm from a blue state, one whose senate and congressional representatives supported Reid's closure of the Senate to get the republicans off their stone wall and investigate the lead up to the invasion as they had promised more than a year ago. I helped vote them into their positions. What are your representatives doing?

Posted by: Sully | November 2, 2005 02:30 PM

Pamela - I have voted since 74, I am involved in my local government, I have served in the US Navy during Viet Nam, I have seen the US swing from one side to the other politically, but never this far. I have considered myself a Republican for most of my life, but not now. What was the Republican Party has more in common with fascism than democracy. They (Rowe, Bush, stolen my government by lies and deceit. I'm not so foolish to think that terrible things haven't been done by all democratic countries to gain and to protect those freedoms. England, France... all of us has blood on our hands. I know what it really costs better than most.
But the true strength of the US is our ability to rebuild, people, places, and lives. What happened after WWII was the greatness of the US. That is what we should be trying to doing in Iraq. Not destroying these same things or to hide in the dark doing dirty deeds to people who are now in our control. What goes around comes around. Governments as people have karma, and this government has allot to pay for. Well, my son and grandsons will be paying for it, I fear.

We in the US have to stand for the good, the right, and the freedom of all people or our house is built on the same sand as the fascist and demigods as in the past. That is the lesson of history.

Congratulations to you all for having the freedom to write these thoughts. Please don't forget who gave them to you, or think that all Americans have forgotten what is good and fair.

Posted by: Peter, US | November 2, 2005 03:02 PM

I spent ten years in the military, and consider myself a supporter of the troops. During the course of that ten years, I swore to protect and defend the Constitution of the United States on three occasions. Since the Constitution and the Bill of Rights were already the center of my political beliefs, this oath merely formalized my own commitment. I also support the Uniform Code of Miltary Justice and the Geneva Conventions which also forbid torture.
Part of that formal oath was the requirement to obey the "LEGAL ORDERS" of those appointed over me. I don't care who gives you an order to torture from the President on down, you are not required to carry out that order because it is "ILLEGAL". Further, I do not believe any member of the Armed Forces or any other U. S. Government Department is beyond the reach of U.S. courts no matter what country they torture prisoners.
Now I generally support the military and the C.I.A. in its legitimate duties. But, I would fry anyone's rear end who tortures prisoners. I do not accept any excuses for such conduct regardless of their country of origin. I expect and demand the highest level of conduct from the U.S. Military in these matters.
When I think back over our history and the millions of men and women who have died defending that constitution and the rights it represents, I feel their sacrifice has been dishonored.

Posted by: P. J. Casey | November 2, 2005 03:06 PM

Sometimes comes the moment when one must admit that one does not understand. Now I don't understand even how I try.
I don't understand why the USA is making harm to itself. It looks like the US administration is doing everything they can to paint in black their reputation. They sound like they are announcing to the whole world that human rights mere nothing, human rights are sacrificed immediately when they feel so.
Now it was Dick Cheney. He suggested that there would be a clause in defense budget what allows torturing the prisoners in foreign countries in "war on terror operations". One does not have to be naive. Of course American soldiers have tortured their prisoners and they certainly will do so in future. So have done also lowlifes of other bigwigs of big countries. But all the same it is disgusting that people have started to talk there in the USA torturing as acceptable method in "war" on terror. Now Cheney confirmed this policy.
The practice is what it is but what they say matters. So matters what leaders give to understand to soldiers and spies, informally. The present administration of the USA have very clearly given to understand: Let things slide, take the information you need at any methods. The result: Americans have again and again got caught on torturing. The consequence: Millions of people think that Americans are barbarians. American diplomats have no possibilities to go and tell for example to Arabs about human rights without facing ironic smiles and poisonous reminders. The terrorists have now an efficient propaganda weapon!
Why the administration acts so? To get information to prevent terrorist attacks? To save lives? To show that the west is not weak? Maybe this kind of brutality is worth of it.
I don't think so. Any information, usually unreliable, is not worth of making this kind of picture in publicity what this administration has done.
Cheney abases also the national heritage of the USA; honoring human rights (over 200 years), despite the death penalty.

Posted by: Peccavi | November 2, 2005 03:35 PM

Hey, Pam. If you believe that there is even a vestige of justification for the torture of individuals who are alleged to be terrorists, why are you not arguing to save your tax dollars by just doing the torturing on mainland USA. Could it be that you do not want to choke on the double standard? Out of sight, out of conscience, maybe?

I have followed the story in the Sunday Herald (which actually followed on from some feature articles earlier in October) and, if nothing else, I am glad to see that the Scottish media is still ahead of even the BBC in examining this particular tissue of lies and deceit surrounding the invasion of Iraq and the so-called "war against terrorism". The Scottish Police might not get far in its investigations (although the CIA might yet get a wee surprise during one of its "secret" refuelling landings at Prestwick and Glasgow airports) but the issue is pretty clear: the USA, which purports to be the foremost bastion of freedom and democracy, is doing exactly what every empire before it has done. It has become self-obsessed, paranoid and arrogant. While there is a worldwide respect for the American people, their generosity of spirit and their sheer energy, the same cannot be said for your leadership. Unfortunately, it is your leadership that we, elsewhere, see most often. Your leadership ordered the tortures and kidnappings and illegal imprisonments. It is not for the Scottish Police to try and change that but for US citizens to take back their own country from big business and self-interest.

Posted by: Pavvie | November 2, 2005 03:40 PM

What's the difference between the CIA and the KGB? Nothing.

Posted by: Cold Warrior | November 2, 2005 04:51 PM

Bush and Cheney have enacted policies that favour the use of torture. This makes them criminals -- people who have flagrantly violated international law. They should be brought before the International Court of Justice and tried for this crime.

Posted by: Fred Nelson | November 2, 2005 05:11 PM

OK.The world got the point. With this logic, every country has the right to capture and torture Americans, if by their sole opinion, think are a threat to their security. America: This is absurd isnĀ“t it? Stop this nonsense.Torture is wrong, enywhere.Period.

Posted by: Justhink | November 2, 2005 05:12 PM

Justthink: Do you mean like Colombia, Philippines, Afghanistan, Africa, ect.?

Posted by: Pamela | November 2, 2005 05:41 PM

Yes. Torture is wrong everywhere. Its results are unreliable and breaks many international agreements, unless they mean nothing to you. Use of torture is evidence of despiration and just plain bad policy.

Please explain why you think it is so necessary for a civilized country to employ.

Posted by: Sully | November 2, 2005 06:01 PM

After reading most, if not all, your comments, I just can not figure out how could the US become an empire. It is amazing how naive you guys are.

On top of that, nothing of what you say has been proven, but you take it as plain truth.
I stand by Pamela. The only person close to reality here.

Posted by: Gus | November 2, 2005 06:59 PM

Pam: Yes. All those countries too. I am a Peruvian by the way, and have seen the horrors of tortures. Both by the government and by shining path terrorists. When you see an 8 year old kid thrown to a land mine to tip it off, you will also be against torture. It is very easy to comment on-line. Shining path was defeated, and all the country agreed torture was not needed to do it. The terorist leader is serving life-sentence prision, without having been tortured.(was captured live TV). Those in favor of torture, should do it themselves and see the horror of it.If you torture, your citizens will be more in danger anywhere.

Posted by: justhink | November 2, 2005 07:11 PM

Jetterson Morley may be right in that the most recent Sunday Herald coverage of the Mile-High Torture Club appeared on October 23rd but the story was reported in depth in,if not the Herald then another british Sunday broadsheet and, indeed, was covered on uk tv some time before the general election in May 05; the registration numbers of a particular executive jet had been traced to a dummy company owned by those nice folks in Langley.

It should not really need saying that, regardless of the priority given -or not- to this story by an often supine and lazy print media, knowledge of these practices should make us rise up in rebellion. To permit our leaders to act not as neoCons but as neoNazis is to invite, on our cheeks, the hot breath of the Jihad.

We, the people, should take responsibility: the Sunday Herald, its editors and hacks in thrall to the most mediocre and unwholesome political gangbosses in living memory is unlikely to rock the boat sufficiently srongly. Nigel, Scotland

Posted by: | November 2, 2005 07:32 PM

Like Gus and Pam, we as a country have lost our humanity, and any soul we might have claimed.

Posted by: gkam | November 2, 2005 08:28 PM

Fred Nelson is right: The Bush Cabal musty be tried as international criminals for their use of torture. But they should also be tried as war criminals for their unprovoked attack on the people of Iraq, and given the same treatment as those other right-wing hardliners at Nuremburg after WWII.

Posted by: gkam | November 2, 2005 08:35 PM


gkam et al: I just one one single proof, no just chit chat or creative journalism. Just one proof.

Once you provide it, we can discuss. After them, please do not tear apart your clothes. You may need them.

Posted by: Gus | November 2, 2005 11:37 PM

Gus et alii:

If you don't think that this administration practices the torture of detainees as a matter of policy, why do you think that the administration has threatened to veto the entire military appropriations bill over McCain's amendment that bans torture by US personnel? If he did veto it, it would be the first time that he ever vetoed any appropriations bill, I believe. Why would it matter so much to them to have torture made explicitly illegal, if it isn't something that they condone anyway?

I mean, if lots of people had credible allegations that I'd been robbing banks, and I insisted that, no, I never had robbed a bank in my life, but I also insisted that we had to make sure that bank-robbery was legal, you'd probably have some trouble believing me, no?

Posted by: Beren | November 3, 2005 01:36 AM

Gus, I love your gumption. You can't see how the USA has assumed the mantle of global empire, you can't see how the current US Administration lied to the American people about the WMD in Iraq and you can't see how this Administration might continue to tell "porky pies" about the torture of detainees. And you call me "naive"!

Tell me this, all-knowing one: is the Administration actually denying the existence of the black camps? Are the CIA-registered aircraft that stop-over in Scotland carying party balloons and candy for the kids in Afghanistan? Is the threatened veto of the military appropriations bill just a figment of everyone's imagination - except, that is for you and Pam?

Posted by: Pavvie | November 3, 2005 04:24 AM

Gus & Pam :
You are the perfect sheep that this administration is counting on to perpetrate these high crimes against humanity, you put your blinders on and see no evil, hear no evil. But the day will come when we will be held accountable for our actions or lack thereof. What will your answer be?

Posted by: Gus II | November 4, 2005 04:46 PM

Mr Nelson Mandela you are weak on crimes. After 27 years in jail (you didn't commit any crime just for the record), you were victim of torture, by the europeans SKUNK, you became president of your country, you did nothing to revenge crimes committed against you and your people. Sir you are SOFT ON CRIMES. everybody in the world thought you were going to send the HATEMONGER BRITISH/SKUNK OF HUMANITY back to ENGLAND all of them in body bags and you did nothing that'S SOFT ON CRIMES, SIR. IT's like telling the EUROPEANS SKUNK, they can go slave people, steal their land and natural resources, create a stupid State like AUSTRALIA in native indians land and they will get away with all that.

Posted by: bebe | November 17, 2005 11:45 AM

It looks like the riots that are taken place in FRANCE, is a form of revenge. the rioters maybe saying to the French, that car, that house don't really belong to you, It's the results of past colonization, slavery, exploitation and stolen other people land. It appears that the god creatures who had their ANCESTORS victimized by the EUROPEANS SKUNK, are now angry for vengeance. The Europeans SKUNK messed up the world and it looks like that's just the beginning andthey are getting what they deserve. I guess they get themselves to blame. LIBERTE AGALITE FRATERNITE = SLAVERY, COLONIZATION, TORTURE, HUMILIATION AND = GET AWAY WITH IT.

Posted by: BEBE | November 17, 2005 11:57 AM

a british descent owns half of the land in Zimbabowe, and the Zimbaboweans are not rich. what does that tells, their land was stolen from them. they too, will be hungry for revenge. APARTHEID in South Africa, their land and dignity stolen from them, they too, will be hungry some day for vegeance. the ABORIGENES native indians of AUSTRALIA were slaughtered by the British SKUNK so they can create a state in those people land, they too, will be HUNGRY FOR REVENGE some day.

Posted by: BB | November 17, 2005 12:09 PM

a british descent owns half of the land in Zimbabowe, and the Zimbaboweans are not rich. what does that tells, their land was stolen from them. they too, will be hungry for revenge. APARTHEID in South Africa, their land and dignity stolen from them, they too, will be hungry some day for vegeance. the ABORIGENES native indians of AUSTRALIA were slaughtered by the British SKUNK so they can create a state in those people land, they too, will be HUNGRY FOR REVENGE some day.

Posted by: BB | November 17, 2005 12:10 PM

The USA promised to bring democracy and freedom to Iraq. The USA promised to destroy Sadam's WMD's. The USA promised to close down the torture chambers of the Baath-regime.

Instead, the USA brought death and misery to Iraq. The USA never found the WMD's because those WMD's only existed in the US-propaganda. The USA introduced WMD's in Iraq and used those against civillians (Napalm, Fallujah / Depleted Uranium all over Iraq) The USA has built new torture chambers, not just in the old Abu Ghraib prison, but all over the world. The USA tried to get rid of the United Nations, the International Court of Justice in The Hague and the Geneva Conventions. Iraq never attacked the USA. The people who are now fighting the US-troops in Iraq are not 'terrorists', they are brave patriots defending their country against the illegal occupation.
I sincerely respect the allied soldiers who liberated Europe in '45. History will show that the USA is now on the wrong side of justice. The USA starts behaving more and more like the German Nazi-regime in '40-'45.

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