Torture: North Carolina's "Rendition" Connection

Discussion in 'Civil Rights & Privacy' started by Lisa Simeone, Jan 17, 2012.

  1. Lisa Simeone

    Lisa Simeone Original Member

    RENDITION: Thousands of "Suspects" have "Disappeared": Shedding Light on North Carolina's "Rendition" Connection

    . . . North Carolina played a crucial role in this abuse. Aero Contractors, the CIA-affiliated aviation company headquartered at the Johnston County Airport in Smithfield, transported dozens of men to overseas jails. In places like Uzbekistan, Romania, and Egypt, North Carolina-based pilots and crews delivered prisoners to jails where they were held incommunicado and savagely tortured. Sometimes, the torturers were U.S. officials; other times, Americans had others do the dirty work.

    Much of the information obtained was questionable at best and often wrong, making America less - not more - safe.

    Extraordinary rendition is a clear violation of international law and U.S. treaty obligations. Many of its victims have since been released, with no charges filed and no apology or restitution.

    Students at the UNC School of Law Immigration/Human Rights Policy clinic examined key cases and hundreds of documents, including declassified U.S. government records. They have found that different levels of North Carolina government cooperated with Aero Contractors in abetting human rights abuses.

    This connection is significant and shocking. Our elected officials can no longer shrug off these links to serious human rights abuses. As a state, we have a legal duty to investigate why and how our tax dollars supported torture.

    The example of Italian Abou Elkassim Britel is chilling. A translator, Britel was on a business trip in Pakistan when officials arrested him after a routine document check wrongly deemed his passport as fake. Transported by an Aero-operated plane to Morocco, he was beaten, then taken to a prison known for torture. During the next eight-and-a-half months, Britel was tortured and threatened with having his genitals cut off. He was eventually released.

    In a letter that she had written, which was read to the Johnston County commissioners on Oct. 3 of last year, Britel's wife, Khadija Anna Lucia Pighizzini, said that he continues to suffer from dizziness and chronic diarrhea. He has permanent damage to his left eye and ear.

    The efforts of victims to sue for damages in U.S. courts have been blocked by both the Bush and Obama administrations . . . .

    Deborah Weissman is the Reef C. Ivey II distinguished professor of law at UNC School of Law and teaches the Immigration/Human Rights Policy clinic. Robin Kirk is a writer who teaches human rights at Duke University.

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