Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Ireland implicated in report on extraordinary renditions



News just in: a report issued today by the Open Society Foundation holds that the Irish government was complicit in CIA extraordinary renditions. Now maybe you think the renditions were a good thing, necessary elements of the war on terror. The end justifies the means and all that. 
I would disagree with you, but my purpose in this post is not to get into a flame war on that issue. I just wanted to point out an interesting statement from the report in this post: 

In December 2005, amid concerns that extraordinary rendition flights were landing in Ireland, the Irish Human Rights Commission (IHRC) recommended to the Irish government that it seek agreement from U.S. authorities to inspect suspect aircraft. The Irish government responded that inspections were not necessary because it had received assurances from the United States that detainees had not been and would not be transported illegally through Irish territory.

So, the attitude of our government was: We don't need to inspect because we have been assured nothing illegal is going on. And despite the fact that in 2007

the IHRC conducted a substantive review of the matter and concluded that “the Irish State is not complying with its human rights obligations to prevent torture or inhuman or degrading treatment [and that its] reliance on the assurances of the US Government is not enough.”

nothing changed. What a head in the sand way to go about things. Plausible deniability anyone? But maybe that's the way things have always gone on in this country? Today another report is due be issued, the one on our Government's responsibility in relation to the Magdalene laundries. A head in the sand attitude prevailed to those too, it seems. 

What do we learn from this, children? That closed eyes do not clean hands make. 

The full section from the Open Society report on Ireland is copied below. 

Ireland permitted the use of its airspace and airports for flights associated with CIA extraordinary rendition operations. A 2007 European Parliament report “express[ed] serious concern about the stopovers made by CIA-operated aircraft at Irish airports that on many occasions came from or were bound for countries linked with extraordinary rendition circuits and the transfer of detainees.”

The report further “deplor[ed] the stopovers in Ireland of aircraft which have been shown to have been used by the CIA, on other occasions, for the extraordinary rendition of Bisher Al-Rawi, Jamil El-Banna, Abou Elkassim Britel, Khaled El-Masri, Binyam Mohammed, Abu Omar and Maher Arar and for the expulsion of Ahmed Agiza and Mohammed El Zari.”

A 2006 Council of Europe report similarly stated that Ireland, among other countries, may be held accountable for “collusion” because it was used for “‘stopovers’ for flights involving the unlawful transfer of detainees.”

Documents referenced in a lawsuit brought by extraordinary rendition victims against Jeppesen Dataplan, a company that provided flight planning and logistical support services for CIA extraordinary rendition flights, also indicate that Ireland allowed use of its airspace and use of Shannon airport for CIA extraordinary
rendition flights.

According to Amnesty International, aircraft that transferred Khaled al-Makhtari, a Yemeni national, from Iraq to Afghanistan refueled at Shannon airport the day before the transfer. Al-Makhtari was initially held in Abu Ghraib prison before being transferred to a secret CIA prison in Afghanistan. In April 2004, he was transferred to another secret prison in an unidentified country, possibly in Eastern Europe. He was held there in complete isolation for 28 months before being sent to Yemen, where he was eventually released without charge or trial in May 2007.

See the detainee list in Section IV. U.S. court records from a lawsuit involving Richmor Aviation, a company that operated CIA extraordinary rendition flights, also show that at least 13 flights operated by Richmor involving U.S. personnel landed in Ireland between 2002 and 2004. These include several flights stopping at Shannon airport, such as N85VM, which landed there at some point between November 8 and 12, 2002; N85VM, which landed there between November 20 and 26, 2002; N85VM, which landed there between December 4 and 9, 2002; N85VM, which landed there between February 3 and 18, 2003; N85VM, which landed there between August 12 and 15, 2003; N85VM, which landed there between November 6 and 7, 2003; N85VM, which landed there between December 15 and 18, 2003; N85VM, which landed there between February 13 and 14, 2004; N85VM, which landed there between April 25 and 29, 2004; N85VM, which landed there between June 11 and 15, 2004; N85VM, which landed there between August 12 and 16, 2004; N85VM, which landed there between September 5 and 9, 2004; and N227SV, which landed there between September 29 and October 2, 2004. Richmor-operated flights were involved in the extraordinary rendition of the Egyptian cleric Abu Omar, and are also suspected of having refueled at Shannon before transporting Abd al Nashiri.

Diplomatic cables released by WikiLeaks in 2010 revealed that former Irish Foreign Affairs Minister Dermot Ahern told U.S. Ambassador Thomas Foley that he was “quite convinced that at least three flights involving renditions had refueled at Shannon Airport before or after conducting renditions elsewhere.”

Other cables revealed that former U.S. Ambassador James Kenny noted in 2006 that the Irish government had “acted to ensure continued US military transits at Shannon in the face of public criticism” despite public concern that the airport was being used for extraordinary rendition flights.

In December 2005, amid concerns that extraordinary rendition flights were landing in Ireland, the Irish Human Rights Commission (IHRC) recommended to the Irish government that it seek agreement from U.S. authorities to inspect suspect aircraft. The Irish government responded that inspections were not necessary because it had received assurances from the United States that detainees had not been and would not be transported illegally through Irish territory.

In 2007, the IHRC conducted a substantive review of the matter and concluded that “the Irish State is not complying with its human rights obligations to prevent torture or inhuman or degrading treatment [and that its] reliance on the assurances of the US Government is not enough.” The commission concluded that “the Irish State should put in place a reliable and independently verifiable system of inspection so that no prisoner is ever transported through this country except in accordance with proper legal formalities and the highest observance of human rights standards.”

In June 2011, the U.N. Committee against Torture stated that it was “concerned at the various reports of [Ireland’s] alleged cooperation in a rendition programme, where rendition flights use the State party’s airports and airspace,” and that it was “also concerned at the inadequate response by the State party with regard to investigating these allegations.”

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