The US government’s practice of flying terrorist suspects oversees to be tortured by willing regimes is about to come under investigation in Scotland. The policy, framed by the innocuous phrase extraordinary rendition has escalated since 9/11 under the guidance of President Bush and his legal advisers, most particularly Alberto Gonzales. It would be interesting to ask Harriet Miers about her views and input to Bush about this issue if she makes it to the upcoming hearings.

Back to Scotland: following an investigative report by Scotland’s Sunday Herald columnist Neil Mackay on October 16, 2005 in which he noted these details, the Herald is now reporting that the Scotland police have launched their own investigation:

The programme is reviled by human rights groups around the world, but the UK is a keen supporter. Since 9/11, the CIA’s 33-strong fleet of planes, which is used to fly its human cargo of alleged terrorist captives around the globe, has stopped off for refuelling and other logistical support at UK airports on no less than 210 occasions.

Nearly 20 British airports have been used, with Prestwick and Glasgow the favoured destinations. Prestwick has received 75 CIA rendition flights and Glasgow 74. Other airports used include Luton, Heathrow, Gatwick and Belfast.

The Scottish police have the authority to board the flights bringing in suspects:

Craig Murray, former British ambassador to Uzbekistan, said : “Once these planes land on British soil, they have no immunity. If they touch down at a civilian airport they are under civilian jurisdiction. This would allow the police to do their job fully and to board the plane and question those on board.”

And, this is one CIA official’s reaction:

The CIA refused categorically to comment. One CIA official merely laughed when told that Scottish police were to investigate.

It is exactly that attitude that shows everyone that it’s Bush’s policies, not those of a “few bad apples”, that are the driving force behind violating international laws – most particularly the ban against torture.

The practice began during the 1990s under the auspices of the CIA but was reportedly rarely used until Bush declared his war on terror and began stripping away almost every possible civil and international right that citizens had up until that point.


President George Bush says renditions are entirely legal and that rendered suspects are not tortured, despite the fact that his own State Department says Uzbekistan, Egypt and Morocco are among countries that routinely abuse human rights and use torture.

Perhaps Bush won’t mind then when we decide to fly him to one of those countries based on the fact that his administration is suspected of war crimes.

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