CIA Jets Fly the War on Terror

ByABC News
March 7, 2005, 6:45 PM

March 7, 2005 — -- It is supposed to be top secret, but ABC News found plenty of people who said they knew the true purpose of the airplane hangars at the end of a private two-lane road in rural North Carolina.

"That's the CIA hangar," said one airport maintenance worker, pointing out one of the two operating bases in North Carolina for the executive jets used by the CIA to move dozens of suspected terrorists over the last few years to countries well known for using brutality and torture.

The two jets, one a Gulfstream V and the other a Boeing 737, have been spotted at airports around the world, and flight logs shown to ABC News show trips to Afghanistan, Iraq, Egypt, Morocco, Libya, Guantanamo Bay in Cuba and Uzbekistan.

The CIA would not officially comment on its operation, known as "extraordinary rendition." The program began under an executive order signed by President George H.W. Bush in December 1992. Former senior government officials say the program initially involved only a select few terror suspects, but was vastly expanded after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.

"This needs to be done very quietly and out of the public's eye," said Jack Cloonan, a former FBI agent who is now an ABC News consultant. "It's an integral part of the war on terrorism."

A former British ambassador to Uzbekistan, Craig Murray, says the CIA brought many prisoners to the Central Asian nation for interrogation, knowing full well that the Uzbeks would use torture during interrogation.

He said he knew of one case where an Uzbek prisoner was boiled to death.

"The Uzbeks very regularly used very brutal torture," Murray said. "A lot of beating, breaking of limbs, smashing of limbs, smashing of teeth, pulling away skin with pliers, pulling out fingernails and toenails."

Murray said his deputy confronted the CIA station chief in the Uzbek capital, Tashkent, about whether information was obtained under torture.

"And he replied, it probably was obtained under torture, but the CIA does not see that as a problem," Murray said.