The largest covert CIA operation since the Cold War is run not only by shadowy government contractors in the darkest corners of Afghanistan, but also by unassuming Americans in places like Dedham, Mass. Torture Taxi is the story of the broad reach of extraordinary rendition, and, as Hannah Arendt coined the phrase, the banality of evil.
When U.S. civilian airplanes were spotted in late 2002 taking trips to and from Andrews Air Force Base, and making stops in Afghanistan and Guantanamo Bay, journalists and plane-spotters wondered what was going on. It soon became clear that these planes were part of the largest covert operation since the Cold War era. Called extraordinary rendition, the practice involves CIA officials or contractors kidnapping people and sending them to secret prisons around the world where they are held and often tortured, either at the hands of the host-country’s government or by CIA personnel themselves. On Sept. 6, after a long period of official no-comments, President Bush acknowledged the program’s existence. But the extent of its operations has yet to be publicly disclosed.
How extensive is it? Trevor Paglen, an expert in clandestine military installations, and A.C. Thompson, an award-winning journalist for S.F. Weekly, spent months tracking the CIA flights and the businesses behind them. What they found was a startlingly broad network of planes (including the Gulfstream jet belonging to Boston Red Sox co-owner Phillip Morse), shell companies, and secret prisons around the world. Perhaps the most disturbing revelation of their new book Torture Taxi: On the Trail of the CIA’s Rendition Flights is the collusion of everyday Americans in this massive CIA program. From family lawyers who bolster the shell companies, to an entire town in Smithfield, N.C., that hosts CIA planes and pilots, Torture Taxi is the story of the broad reach of extraordinary rendition, and, as Hannah Arendt coined the phrase, the banality of evil.
Addressing the leaders of the 192 U.N. member countries in the opening session of the 61st annual General Assembly, U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan warned that the fear of terrorism could cause a clash of civilizations and religions.
U.S. President George Bush also addressed the world leaders during the opening of the U.N. meeting, requesting support for promising alternatives in the extended Middle East Project. The 61st annual General Assembly of the U.N. began with Annan’s address.
Annan, whose term as secretary-general ends at the end of 2006, illustrated a pessimistic frame for the future and further emphasized the events being experienced may lead to a clash of civilizations or religions.
China will increase its peacekeeping presence in Lebanon to 1,000 troops, Premier Wen Jiabao has confirmed.
The move would make China one of the largest contributors to a strengthened UN force designed to keep the peace. It would also signal that China, now the world’s fourth largest economy, was starting to lift its diplomacy in areas it had previously not seen as vital.
The UN wants to raise troop numbers in southern Lebanon to 15,000 as part of UN Security Council Resolution 1701.
A Pentagon report rejects the idea that a secret military unit had gathered intelligence a year before the Sept. 11 attacks that might have stopped the hijackers, a senior defense official said Thursday. Lawmakers were to be briefed Thursday on the Defense Department inspector general’s report, and officials hoped to post a version with blacked-out parts on the Pentagon’s Web site, two officials said. The officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the report had not yet been released, declined to provide further details about the study’s conclusions.
The report was ordered following the assertion that four of the 19 hijackers were identified in 2000 by a classified military intelligence unit known as “Able Danger.”
President Pervez Musharraf, seeking American investment in Pakistan, has come in for some praise from former US President Bill Clinton, who said that he was doing a “fine” job.
Clinton who along with Jordan’s King Abdullah took part in a meeting addressed by Musharraf in New York to scout for American investment in Pakistan, briefly exchanged views with the Pakistani President. “You are doing very fine work,” Clinton was quoted as telling Musharraf by the Daily Times on Tuesday.
Kevin Lafferty is a smart, cautious, thoughtful scientist who doesn’t hate cats, but he has put forth a provocative theory that suggests that a clever cat parasite may alter human cultures on a massive scale. The parasite, Toxoplasma gondii, has been transmitted indirectly from cats to roughly half the people on the planet, and it has been shown to affect human personalities in different ways. Research has shown that women who are infected with the parasite tend to be warm, outgoing and attentive to others, while infected men tend to be less intelligent and probably a bit boring. But both men and women who are infected are more prone to feeling guilty and insecure. Other researchers have linked the parasite to schizophrenia. In an adult, the symptoms are like a mild form of flu, but it can be much more serious in an infant or fetus. Oxford University researchers believe high levels of the parasite leads to hyperactivity and lower IQs in children.