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Ghost Plane: The Untold Story of the CIA's Secret Rendition Programme [Hardcover]

Stephen Grey
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
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Book Description

25 Oct 2006
In December 2005, Condoleezza Rice, the US Secretary of State, assured the world that the flights of CIA private jets that have criss-crossed Europe since 9/11 had no role in the sending of prisoners to be tortured. 'The United States has not transported anyone, and will not transport anyone, to a country when we believe he will be tortured,' she said. Tony Blair assured Parliament: 'I have absolutely no evidence to suggest that anything illegal has been happening here at all.' But as Stephen Grey reveals in "Ghost Plane", Rice's claims were a falsehood - and Britain's government has also turned a blind eye to a CIA operation that systematically out-sourced the harsh interrogation of its captives. Interviewing sources from the most senior levels of the current and former US administration, from the CIA's department of operations, Grey reveals how the agency's program, known by the euphemism 'extraordinary rendition', has transported hundreds of prisoners to foreign jails and its own secret facilities in the full knowledge they will face harsh torture. 'Of course we do torture', one former senior CIA operative told Grey. 'Imagine putting President Bush's head under water and telling him to raise his hand when he thinks he's being tortured. Give him the water-board treatment, and he'd be raising his hand straightaway.' From the dark cells of Syria's 'Palestine Branch' interrogation center - where inmates are detained for months on end in cells the size of coffins - to secret CIA jails in Afghanistan that bombard prisoners with 24-hour rock music, Grey uses the prisoners' accounts and thousands of CIA jet flight logs to weave a vivid tale of life inside this hidden 'extra-legal' netherworld that is America's international prison network. Including interviews with pilots that flew the CIA's jets and packed with exclusive revelations, "Ghost Plane" reveals the extraordinary detective work that tracked down the Agency's covert aviation network. Grey shows how it emerged from the former Air America that flew in Vietnam and Laos. Tracing the history of rendition back to the mid-1990s, he then shows how after 9/11 rendition expanded beyond recognition into what amounted to a systematic torture program - a terrifying world of endless interrogations, frequent transfers round the world, and detention without charge And all was authorised by the White House.

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: C Hurst & Co Publishers Ltd; First Edition edition (25 Oct 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1850658501
  • ISBN-13: 978-1850658504
  • Product Dimensions: 15.6 x 23.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 560,619 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


'An explosive new book provides a rare glimpse into the full extent of the
agency's controversial terror renditions.' -- Time Magazine, 13 October 2006

'Disturbing in the detail of its evidence that outsourcing interrogation
evaded legal issues and led to systematic brutality.' -- Kirkus Starred Review, 19 September 2006

'An impressively detailed investigation that includes original
reporting, public documents and a remarkable number of on-the-record
interviews.' -- Los Angeles Times, Oct. 2006

'Grey managed to acquire unclassified flight-plan records tracking
the movements of the suspected CIA planes around the world.' -- Newsweek, 13 October 2006

About the Author

A freelance investigative journalist and broadcaster, Stephen Grey, 38, is former editor of the Sunday Times' Insight investigative team and has been the paper's home affairs correspondent and a foreign correspondent in South Asia and Europe. He has contributed regularly to the New York Times, the Guardian, the Times, and the New Statesman. Grey won Amnesty International's 2005 media award for 'Magazine Story of the Year'.

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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Stephen Grey, a former editor of the Sunday Times’ Insight investigation team, broke many of the news stories about the CIA’s programme of secret renditions. In this extremely useful book, he gives us the fullest account yet of this programme. He exposes the CIA’s covert aircraft fleet, Aero Contractors, and also describes how CIA planes operated illegally in Venezuela to support the attempted coup against President Chavez in 2002.

The CIA runs a system of clandestine prisons holding thousands of kidnapped prisoners, taken from Iraq, Afghanistan, Bosnia, Croatia, Macedonia, Albania, Germany, Italy, Sudan, Somalia, Kenya, Zambia, Gambia, Pakistan, Indonesia and Malaysia to be tortured in Afghanistan, Jordan, Uzbekistan, Thailand, Syria, Egypt and Morocco. Grey writes, “the foreign torture cells of Cairo and Damascus and the US jails at Guantanamo and Bagram were part of one interconnected gulag in which prisoners were swapped both between countries but also between the CIA and the US military.”

Grey asked Edward Walker, US Ambassador to Egypt, “When Condoleezza Rice and the president now stand in front of people and say we don’t send people to countries where they torture, are they telling the truth?” Walker replied, “No, they’re not telling the truth.” A CIA official said, “nothing was done without approval from the White House – from Condoleezza Rice herself.”

The Bush and Blair governments talk democracy but support dictatorship. For example, in 2002, the State Department said Uzbekistan ‘routinely’ tortured prisoners, then gave it an extra $180 million aid. Grey points out that the Blair government connived in the renditions and in the use of torture, by using the ‘information’ gained from torturing prisoners.
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
The British investigative journalist Stephen Grey has done more than anyone else to expose the illegal American practice of Extraordinary Rendition, in which the CIA has been kidnapping people in other countries whom they suspect of involvement in terrorism and smuggling them (in contravention of the laws of the country concerned and of international law) to third countries where they can be interrogated and if necessary tortured without the constraints imposed by the laws and Constitution of the United States. Now he has pulled together the results of his investigations over recent years into a fascinating book, Ghost Plane, a gripping read and a masterly exposé of one of the greatest scandals of our time.

Stephen Grey was recently a runner-up for this year's Paul Foot award for investigative journalism. His citation said:

'Stephen Grey, for his work on the CIA's secret rendition policy, which he first investigated for the New Statesman two years ago and followed up with further revelations in the New York Times and Guardian. The judges admired "a long term, painstaking and immaculate piece of journalism that began with flat denials from the Bush administration and ended with a reluctant admission. A most remarkable victory for one outstandingly dogged journalist against a very mean machine.'

Stephen Grey's book and the revelations of official crookedness that it charts demonstrate that the monstrous apparatus of official secrecy erected to protect indefensible behaviour by governments can still be penetrated by dogged, determined and principled journalism, if the working journalist can rely on the equally courageous support of editors and proprietors (remember Watergate).
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars cia planes 6 Oct 2010
This book is an expose of CIA activities that transported hundreds of prisoners to foreign jails (extraordinary rendition)to be tortured despite the 2005 absolute denial by Condalezza Rice the US secretary of state that this did not occur.
The book covers flights from 1987-2006 that transported prisoners by CIA jets and gives details of 9 of those transported.
A very well written and researched book with 40 pages of notes.
The book questions thee integrity of America, its government and particularly the CIA.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent read 5 Sep 2007
By Hannah
I read this book in January and it still amazes me that it is not read more widely. The information and stories about individuals is very interesting. I for one couldn't put the book down as I wanted to know more, however, I did find the writing a little 'jumpy' and thus the book did not read smoothly.

I would still strongly recommend this book as an excellent starting place for those interested in exactly what it means to be an investigative journalist and most importantly as a starting point for discussion.

Other titles I would recommend would be 'The Lost Boy' by Duncan Staff and 'Four Hours in My Lai' by Michael Bilton. Staff takes a look at the search for Keith Bennet, the last known victim on the Moors murderers and Bilton's work is surely one of the best pieces of investigate journalism looking at the massacre in My Lai in 1968 (coincidently it's 40th anniversary in 2008).
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