Documents Reveal Secrets of CIA Rendition Program


(AP Photo/Achmad Ibrahim)

September 1, 2011

A billing dispute between contractors in an upstate New York courthouse has revealed documents detailing sensitive information about the CIA’s controversial rendition program.

The CIA program — in which the agency captures and flies terror suspects for interrogation at covert prison sites in countries like Egypt, Syria and Morocco — has long been shrouded in secrecy.

But now documents from a trial in Columbia County provide rare details about the costs — tens of millions of dollars — and operations of the program, including sensitive material like the plane’s logs of air-to-ground phone calls.  In one instance, the rendition of a terror suspect cost almost $340,000.

The records offer a new trail for the movements of prominent terror suspects “who vanished into the CIA ‘black site’ prisons.”  They also reveal the extent to which private companies — like the contractor DynCorp — have been involved in the program.

Cory Crider, the legal director of the London-based charity Reprieve, which alerted the Washington Post, the Associated Press and the Guardian to the court records, told the Post,

This new evidence tells a chilling story, from the CIA’s efforts to disguise its illegal activities to the price it paid to ferry prisoners to torture chambers across the world. … If we are to avoid repeating our mistakes, we must have a full accounting of how this system was allowed to flourish under our very noses.

Though the CIA’s secret interrogation program has been closed under the Obama administration, rendition continues in certain circumstances. (Related: A former top CIA official tells FRONTLINE in an exclusive interview that very few CIA programs have changed under Obama.) Critics of rendition say torture was routine during the interrogations.

Bonus Video: Extraordinary Rendition: In this 2007 FRONTLINE/World film, correspondent Stephen Grey investigates the CIA’s secret rendition program and maps its network of “black sites.”

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