Tuesday, January 19, 2010


N987SA? What a cryptic title for a post. So let me start with September of 2007 and an airplane crash.

According to several mexican newspapers, G-II reg. N987SA went down this morning in Yucatan, Mexico, about 20 nm from MID.

It has been reported the plane was carrying 3.2 tons of cocaine. Mexican Air Force EMB-145MP detected the G-II coming from the south (reportedly from Colombia).
Did some one get greedy and carry more cocaine than he could fly with? Or was it just pilot error?

That is just the opening part of the story. Let us look at a second clue. Here is a bit on torture taxis.
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.
OK. Individuals were subjected to stress tests to get information out of them. And it was going on in the Clinton Administration.

Al Gore had a few brilliant words on the subject.
Once when Richard Clarke, President Clinton’s chief counter-terrorism adviser on the National Security Council, “proposed a snatch,” Vice-President Al Gore said, “That’s a no-brainer. Of course it’s a violation of international law, that’s why it’s a covert action. The guy is a terrorist. Go grab his ass.”
OK. Back to the airplane story.
Roychoudhuri: In the book, you make clear that the rendition program has been around for years. What has changed?

Paglen: The program was established over multiple administrations, Democrat and Republican. For example, Aero Contractors was set up under the Carter administration. The counter-terrorist unit in the CIA was set up under the Reagan administration, but the rendition program was set up under Clinton. It’s an accumulation of the capacity of this infrastructure. After 9/11, the CIA went about setting up this entire infrastructure. Materially, they started getting airplanes and secret prisons together. They also started putting together a corporate structure, meaning shell companies. All of this was already in place, but not solidified. All the controls seemed to be taken off of it. They’re not planning each operation so meticulously, they’re not getting presidential authorization for each operation.
You are probably wondering about the book. Here is a link:

Torture Taxi: On the Trail of the CIA's Rendition Flights

Well time to tie this into one big happy package. And you will never guess. It is connected to the drug war.
For their part, the Latin Americans, under a new generation of more self-confident leaders, are tired of being hectored about their failings by the US, the world's principal source of cannabis whose agents continue the drug dealing they indulged in during the Iran-Contra affair of the Reagan years.

Evidence points to aircraft – familiarly known as "torture taxis" – used by the CIA to move captives seized in its kidnapping or "extraordinary rendition" operations through Gatwick and other airports in the EU being simultaneously used for drug distribution in the Western hemisphere. A Gulfstream II jet aircraft N9875A identified by the British Government and the European Parliament as being involved in this traffic crashed in Mexico in September 2008 while en route from Colombia to the US with a load of more than three tons of cocaine.

In 2004, another torture taxi crashed in a field in Nicaragua with a ton of cocaine aboard. It had been identified by Britain and the European Parliament's temporary committee on the alleged use of European countries by the CIA for the transport and illegal detention of prisoners as a frequent visitor in 2004 and 2005 to British, Cypriot, Czech, German, Greek, Hungarian, Spanish and other European cities with its cargo of captives for secret imprisonment and torture in Iraq, Jordan and Azerbaijan.

Given the circumstances, it is unremarkable that US strictures are being politely ignored. President Evo Morales of Bolivia – criticised by the US for defending Bolivians' practice of chewing coca leaves to assuage hunger and altitude sickness – wants to allow every Bolivian family around the city of Cochabamba to cultivate coca bushes for their own use. He also wants to export coca leaves to his country's neighbours. Mr Morales's authority, recently reinforced by winning a second presidential term in fair elections and by a strengthening of Bolivia's economy, has no need to worry about US criticism.

Venezuela and Bolivia have expelled US narcotics officers from their territory. At the end of last month, President Rafael Correa of Ecuador ended Washington's lease of a large air base on the Pacific from where US aircraft were engaged in the struggle against the region's increasingly powerful left.
Well the aircraft is N987SA not N9875A. And their crash story is a year off. Which I put down to sloppy reporting. But the cocaine was there. And the back hualling of drugs to cover the costs of CIA covert missions has been going on (with unknown frequency) since the Viet Nam War. As detailed in Alfred McCoy's book:

The Politics of Heroin: CIA Complicity in the Global Drug Trade

And just for your amusement Mel Gibson was in a movie loosely based on the information in McCoy's book. The movie:

Air America (Special Edition)

So am I upset about the CIA bringing drugs into America? Not exactly. What I object to is the War On Drugs that makes them worth bringing in to America by our clandestine service. If we are going to have a clandestine service it should be controlled by the public purse and not be able to freelance operations from drug profits. And the only way to do that is to end the Drug War charade where the government fights drugs on the one hand and traffics in them on the other.

Cross Posted at Classical Values

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