North Carolina Commission of Inquiry Releases Report on State’s Involvement in US Torture Program

Yesterday, the North Carolina Commission of Inquiry on Torture, a grassroots-led non-profit organization established to investigate the state’s role in the U.S. rendition, torture, and secret detention program after 9/11, released a damning 44-page report detailing the “torture taxi” flights for which North Carolina served as a staging ground. The report, “Torture Flights: North Carolina’s Role in the CIA Rendition and Torture Program,” names two former CIA “black site” detainees represented by the Global Justice Clinic among the individuals who were rendered on planes flown by a North Carolina company.

The product of a year-long investigation and public hearings, the report compiles ample evidence regarding the role of North Carolina-incorporated aircraft operator, Aero Contractors, Ltd., in the forcible transfer of at least 49 detainees to various CIA black sites and/or foreign custody in proxy detention facilities around the world, where they were held incommunicado and tortured at the behest of the U.S. government.

The Global Justice Clinic represents the families of two individuals named in the Commission’s report, Mohammad Al-Asad and Mohamed Farag Ahmad Bashmilah. The two men, who are now deceased, were extraordinarily rendered, detained and tortured in the CIA program for many months, before being released without ever being charged with a terrorism-related crime. As the report notes, neither they nor their families have received any apology or recognition of their ill-treatment. Cases on behalf of the men are pending before the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (al-Asad v. Djibouti) and the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (Mohamed et al v. United States).

As a citizen-led effort, the report represents an important step toward holding a U.S. corporate actor responsible for assisting the CIA in the far-reaching, illegal rendition program. In the context of consistent inaction, denial, and assertion of “state secrets” by the U.S. government, the Commission’s work shines a bright light on corporate actors involved in grave human rights abuses committed under the guise of national security. The report’s recommendations aim at enhancing transparency and accountability for the CIA program, as well as preventing the recurrence of torture by U.S. officials or private contractors.


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