Friday, September 22, 2006

Everyday Americans who supported the torture taxi planes

Fascinating interview with the investigative journalist authors behind Torture Taxi.
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.

This is an American story, a neighborhood story. When we started looking at all the front companies the CIA had erected, we realized our neighbors were helping the CIA set up these structures. These are family lawyers in suburban Massachusetts and Reno, Nevada. People in our communities are doing dirty work for the CIA. This is not just people being snatched up from one faraway country and taken to a country that’s even farther away.

When Trevor and I went to Afghanistan we realized that this wasn’t about a handful of CIA secret prisons. The U.S. military has erected some 20 detention centers throughout Afghanistan —which all operate in near total secrecy. These are facilities that the U.N., the Afghan government, journalists, and human rights groups can’t get into. Extraordinary rendition is one facet of a much broader story of secrecy and imprisonment that spans the globe.

In Kabul and Gardez, we interviewed many people—in human rights organizations, NGOs, local journalists, and former detainees. We realized that the kinds of distinctions that we were making between CIA and military black sites, CIA and military torture made absolutely no sense to people. It’s more like the U.S. is treating this whole country as if it were a giant black site.

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