On the Trail of the CIA's Rendition Flights
Publication Date: October 1, 2006
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“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…. We’re so used to being fed politics as fantasy entertainment, by art and the media, that we end up never being sure when we’re 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 CIA’s operations. In a series of journeys investigating the agency, they have uncovered all of the major elements of the CIA’s 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 President’s depiction of the CIA program as a legal and useful tool for bringing terrorists to justice, Torture Taxi proves that the CIA’s operations since 9/11 have been tainted by torture and a long series of intelligence failures.
Trevor Paglen is an expert on clandestine military installations. A widely exhibited artist and photographer, he is the author of I Could Tell You... and Blank Spots on a Map. A.C. Thompson has been a reporter for 12 years, mostly in the San Francisco Bay area. In 2006-2007, he was an investigative reporter for SF Weekly. For eight years before that he worked in a similar role for the San Francisco Bay Guardian. His work has also appeared in a number of national magazines. His work received the George Polk Award for local reporting in 2005.
“The book shows just how far two guys without any high-placed government contacts can go in blowing open a story of global import.”
—The San Francisco Chronicle
“What Paglen and Thompson offer here is a glimpse at the logistics of torture, and the public’s role in the brutal business of the CIA…. the book excels at filling in blanks, painting a mysterious and frightening picture of our ‘wartime’ actions.”
—TIME OUT Chicago
“The cool, almost dispassionate tone taken by Trevor Paglen and A.C. Thompson makes their book all the more disturbing…. Their conclusion is that the end of this story is not yet written.”
—The Washington Examiner
“Torture Taxi describes something a lot like the creation of a CIA airline…. Paglen and Thompson do an admirable job of synthesizing it and decoding it… terrifically fascinating.”
—The Pittsburg Post Gazette
"The first book documenting the US government practice of extraordinary rendition."
—Amy Goodman, Democracy Now