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Anti War Demo at Ennis, War Planes at Shannon

category international | anti-war / imperialism | news report author Wednesday November 07, 2007 21:53author by Edward Horgan Report this post to the editors

Business as usual, murder and torture facilitated at Shannon airport

I went to Shannon airport at about 8.15 am this morning.
Today was another “quiet” day at Shannon. There are more Ryanair flights, but far fewer other civilian flights including Aer Lingus, other long haul tourist or business flights. However, US military and CIA flights are continuing at a high level.
US army Gulfstream - Priority Transport?
US army Gulfstream - Priority Transport?

At Shannon airport on the morning of 7 November 2007, what appeared at first sight to be civilian business type executive jet, was being protected by Irish army jeep with armed soldiers standing guard. I checked the tail number which was 70140 with no letters. A phone call to Tim and an internet search revealed that this plane was in fact a Gulfstream C 20E based in US Airbase in Ramstein, Germany. Its belongs to the US Army Priority Air Transport Fleet, (USAPAT) used to transport US senior military commanders, or for other special tasks.

I took some photos and continued on to Ennis to attend the Ceifin Conference that was being addressed by Kathleen O’Toole, the former Boston USA Police Commissioner who is now Chief Inspector for An Garda Siochana. The previous speaker was Sean Love of Amnesty, who read out a testimonial from a Guantanamo prisoner.
During the questions and answers session I introduced myself as a civil society peace activist, and explained that Shannon airport about 15 miles away played a key part in the rendition of prisoners for torture as confirmed by Amnesty International, the European Parliament, and the Council of Europe. I informed her that the Gardai were in serious dereliction of duty by failing to enforce the UN Convention Against Torture at Shannon, by failing to investigate allegations that prisoners were being transported through Shannon for the purposes of being tortured. I also pointed out that Gardai at Shannon were also abusing their powers and bringing unjustified charges against peace activist who were attempting to expose the truth at Shannon. I then asked the Garda Chief Inspector what action she would take to investigate these issues. The large attendance at this conference was mainly from Co Clare, and they responded to my questions and statement with a spontaneous round of applause which took me by surprise. The response by Kathleen O’Toole was also more encouraging than I expected. She explained the limitations of her post, but said had not yet had a chance to look into the issues at Shannon directly, but that she had had discussions with the chair person of the Irish Human Rights Commission Dr Maurice Manning on the issue, and that she would consider looking into the issues at Shannon in more detail. I also met her briefly during the coffee break and arranged to make a written submission to her on the problems with the Gardai at Shannon airport.

I had only become aware of this conference the previous day when Tommy Donnelly phoned me. Tommy arrived from Galway this morning and mounted a one man anti war and anti CIA peace protest outside the conference at the West County Hotel. Tommy’s protest was also well received by locals at the conference.
We then went back to Shannon airport and took some more photos of the US military Gulfstream. Also at the airport in the early afternoon was an OMNI Air troop carrier just taking off, and an ATA troop carrier at Gate 42 being refuelled by Top Oil. Also at the airport was a large Volga Dniepr Antonov transport aircraft that have been used in the past for moving large amounts of munitions through Shannon to the Middle East, including attack helicopters.
As usual in such cases, I then went to Shannon Garda Station and made a formal written request for the Gardai to search the Gulfstream aircraft no. 70140.
I had made a similar request on 30 Oct 07 to have Gulfstream N475LC, a known CIA rendition aircraft searched, and I received a written reply from Inspector Kennedy which said:
“I wish to inform you that the Gardai will not be taking any action on the information contained in your Statement.”
Yours sincerely.,
T. A. Kennedy
Inspector for Superintendent.

Separately, there are indications at Shannon that the so-called smoking gun of torture rendition will be exposed at Shannon over the coming year. There have been strange goings on within the airport over the past year, and the Aer Lingus betrayal on the Shannon Heathrow slots is just one of these. Other airport workers, in addition to Aer Lingus workers, are being treated like serfs in Imperial Russia, and many are being threatened with redundancy and dismissal. On3 wonders what the unions have been doing in recent years.
The travelling public, and business interests, in the Mid West of Ireland have also been treated like non-citizens, non-people, while priority has been given to Dublin interests, and of course to US military and CIA use of Shannon airport.
One attendee at the Ennis Ceifin conference told me that he had been told by Minister Michael McDowell in 2003 that the Irish Government had no choice but the give the US military and CIA the use of Shannon airport, “otherwise they would have devastated the Irish economy”.
So it seems that blackmail was used after all, probably on March 17, 2002, a year before the war began, and over a bowl of Shamrock.

Tommy Protests at Ennis
Tommy Protests at Ennis

Ennis Peace Demo 7 Nov 2007
Ennis Peace Demo 7 Nov 2007

Volga Dneipr munitions transporter? and Gulfstream running for cover?
Volga Dneipr munitions transporter? and Gulfstream running for cover?

Top Oil Tops up ATA US troop carrier
Top Oil Tops up ATA US troop carrier

author by Edwardpublication date Wed Nov 07, 2007 22:16author address author phone Report this post to the editors

An average of 640 US troops pass through Shannon each day.

A significant number of the US soldiers passing through Shannon are women, and a significant number of them come from Afro/Asian and Latin American backgrounds.

The WASPS such as the children of the Bush, Clinton, Rumsfeld and Chenney families, are too busy spending the oil profits and war profits that their parents are making.

OMNI Air US Troop carrier taxies for take off past 70140
OMNI Air US Troop carrier taxies for take off past 70140

US Soldiers at Shannon 24 Oct 07
US Soldiers at Shannon 24 Oct 07

author by Contrarianpublication date Thu Nov 08, 2007 00:14author address author phone Report this post to the editors

'One attendee at the Ennis Ceifin conference told me that he had been told by Minister Michael McDowell in 2003 that the Irish Government had no choice but the give the US military and CIA the use of Shannon airport, “otherwise they would have devastated the Irish economy”.'

Oh well, that settles it then. Cast iron evidence, that is. And you wonder why the Guards wear that slightly bemused look when you make one of these statements with vague unsubstantiated allegations that persons unknown and unspecified might be up to something unknown and unspecified in Shannon.

author by John Jefferies - Anti-War Irelandpublication date Thu Nov 08, 2007 08:13author address Cobh, Co. Corkauthor phone Report this post to the editors

Well done Ed, Tim, Tommy and others for keeping up the campaign to expose what's going on in our name at Shannon.

To 'Contrarian' I say the evidence regarding what's passing through Shannon has been presented meticulously by Ed, Tim and others over the last five years or so and is undeniable. Nor has the government made any attempt to deny it is aiding and abetting the US military. The evidence has been supported by the findings of the Council of Europe investigation into so-called extraordinary rendition.

I have seen these planes on the ground in Shannon for myself although I haven't been able to get to Shannon as often as I'd like. Their serial numbers can be checked out.

I wonder whether the positive reaction to Ed's questions is indication of a change of mood in the mid-west in relation to the US military usage of Shannon. People there have been delivered a terrible blow by the government through the sell-off of Aer Lingus and the abject failure to prevent the airline pulling out of Shannon. Maybe they are waking up to the real agenda.

author by Edwardpublication date Thu Nov 08, 2007 08:39author address author phone Report this post to the editors

The Tommy Donnelly described above is of course better known as Tommy Donnellan to his very many friends. He has been a staunch anti war and civil society campaigner for many years in Galway, Shannon and at Rossport.
With regard to the comments by Contrarian above, the alleged remarks by Michael McDowell cited in my report could become very important in the future, when the whole sorry saga of Ireland's complicity in the Iraq war is gradually exposed.

author by Coilínpublication date Thu Nov 08, 2007 12:58author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Contrarian, why should anybody take you seriously?

You hide in anonymity. This leaves me to wonder whether you are a disgruntled Garda inspector, or just a shy adolescent? Your choice of pseudonym "Contrarian" suggests that you are more interested in being contrary than in making a constructive contribution to the discussion, and your use of sarcasm at the expense of cogent reasoning creates the impression that you are trying to show off by expressing contempt for others - a strategy that is unlikely to win respect or esteem.

You vastly exaggerate your point by stating that the crimes going on at Shannon are "unknown and unspecified". It is both known and specified that aircraft used by the CIA to transport victims of torture have landed at Shannon. If the Gardaí are to have any role in maintaining law and order, they must search these aircraft and interview the crew, just as police investigating the disappearance of Madeleine McCann have performed searches and interrogations.

By the way, prima-facie evidence is enough to justify searches. Conclusive, "cast-iron" evidence sufficient to secure criminal convictions is what the police look for when they conduct searches and forensic testing. So let's not put the cart before the horse. First searches, then prosecutions.

Obviously, there are people who have vested interests in avoiding conflict with the Pentagon and CIA at Shannon, largely because they think that collaboration brings economic benefits, but an overwhelming majority of Irish people have always been - and obviously still are - unequivocally opposed to the war in Iraq and to the CIA's "extraordinary renditions" - i.e. outsourcing of torture.

Thanks to Ed and Tommy for keeping the flag flying for us. And to Tim and everybody else working quietly behind the scenes to end the occupation of Shannon airport. And good luck to the begrudgers!

Beir bua agus beannacht Bhríde,
Coilín.

author by Contrarianpublication date Thu Nov 08, 2007 13:29author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Seriously guys, what's this obsession with "exposing" or "flushing out" what's going on at Shannon. It's not like it's some sort of big secret, you know. Shannon is a mainly civilian use airport to which the public have pretty much free and unfettered access. Nobody is trying to restrict your planespotting activism which is entirely lawful. We all KNOW that US aircraft and several hundred US soldiers go through there openly every day. There is no attempt to hide it or even to disguise the identity of the aircraft.

The extension of facilities to the US military was a decision of Government, approved by Dail resolution and later found to be entirely lawful in the landmark case of Horgan v An Taoiseach. Those Dail parties that supported the resolution did extremely well in the subsequent general election. The vast majority of those Dail candidates who explicitly opposed the use of Shannon Airport by the US military did rather poorly and were not elected. The anti-war (well, actually the anti-US war) movement failed spectacularly to make Shannon into a key election issue. It's called democracy folks - you may not like it but the people are not sufficiently convinced by your argument to vote for change.

I also notice a certain sloppiness when it comes to allegations that Shannon is involved in extraordinary rendition and/or torture. Not one shred of evidence has been put forward in support of this. No suspect has ever been named as having been transported through Shannon. At the height of it we can say that aircraft that were previously involved in extraordinary rendition operations used Shannon on other occasions. That's as much as can be substantiated and that of course is not illegal. There is no principle of law that requires us to deny facilities to an aircraft because it previously did something that would be illegal if done in or via Ireland. Yet the allegation is freely bandied about that Shannon is used for extraordinary rendition or that wonderfully pejorative term, "torture flights." There is just no evidence for this. No details of persons, dates, times, flights. Anything else is idle speculation, unfounded gossip or mischievous propagandising.

author by Mary Kellypublication date Thu Nov 08, 2007 15:55author address author phone Report this post to the editors

when a high court judge ( Kearns) acts like a total coward and refuses to use his power to rule on the legality of US military use of Shannon? Seems more like fear to speak out against the Irish Government deal with Bush + Chenney +Co.

Fair play Mr Donnelan!

author by anti-contrarianpublication date Thu Nov 08, 2007 17:00author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Yesterday in the Senate, David Norris suggested that the Govt. is trying to cover up the question of rendition i.e. torture flights.

Senator David Norris: - Can we have a debate on rendition, perhaps when the Irish Human Rights Commission issues its report on that subject? I understand the report will be very damaging. The head of the commission, former Senator Maurice Manning, is a pretty restrained person with a distinguished record in this House. He indicated that the Government had been trying to interfere with this report and that if it continued to do so it would have “a bloody fight on their hands”. The commission has been infuriated by the Government’s attempts to soften what may well be a damning report on rendition. It will confirm what people, especially those on this side of the House, have had to say about the subject.-(end of quote)

Is the Irish government expressing the will of the Irish people when it subsidizes the torture activities of the Bush regime? Has the Dail specifically voted money from the Irish taxpayer to be used for torture?

author by jdpublication date Thu Nov 08, 2007 17:09author address author phone Report this post to the editors

"If we are to understand clearly the relationship between human rights and national security imperatives
for the future, then we cannot content ourselves with partial truths about how the policies in question
have been developed and implemented in the past. It is therefore our duty to get right to the bottom of the
CIA’s secret detention programme in all its systemic components. The programme must not simply
pass into history as a policy that seemed to breach our supposedly inviolable human rights, but about
which we never learned the truth and for which we never exercised political and legal accountability.
We have a right and the duty to know the truth and to analyse critically the means and methods being
used in our name towards the stated goal of enhancing our common security. It is therefore indispensable
to clarify the precise operational and legal basis of the CIA’s covert programme, and in particular to
establish the extent to which Council of Europe member states were involved."

http://assembly.coe.int/Main.asp?link=/Documents/Workin...2.htm

It is not enough to say 'we don't know' / where is your proof?'. These are the words of the willfully
ignorant, who are effectively collaborators in human rights abuses.

author by Conn Formistepublication date Thu Nov 08, 2007 18:46author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Guantanamo compared to internment as recruitment tool by O'Loan.

http://www.examiner.ie/irishexaminer/pages/story.aspx-q...1.asp

author by anonpublication date Thu Nov 08, 2007 21:14author address author phone Report this post to the editors

It's commonsense that if a vehilce and _personnel_ were who were involved kidnapping (that as yet had not been investigated ) passed through your checkpoint you would detain search and question them the reason this has not been done is not a legal reason its despicable political one also the reason you cant see that is you think kidnapping and torturing certain people is okay.

The comment about econmimc reprecusions for blocking cia aircraft by Mcdowell was deliberate untrue exaggeration on his part, thats the only interesting thing about that, its political decision not a economic one. We know people like to exagerrate about aspects of the west of Ireland's economy.

Terminal Air a (visual) tracker site for cia rendition aircraft
http://www.appliedautonomy.com/terminalair/index.html ( takes a while to load)

Torture Taxi/terminal air writers blog
http://www.paglen.com/pages/odds_n_ends.html

AN example of the route
Gulfstream with the ID N475LC flew from Fayetteville (Ft. Bragg, USA) to
Shannon via Bangor, Maine, a few days ago. It is now (11pm Friday)
returning from Glasgow to Fayetteville via Bangor

what's in North Carolina?
For an afternoon, Smithfield is home to the debate over the War on Terror
http://www.theherald-nc.com/front/story/5753.html
http://www.ncstoptorturenow.net/resourcesplanespotting.html
2007 - Aug. 29 N475CS KFAY* NC Recent flights to Shannon, owned by a CIA front company.

"Alleged CIA pilots"
http://www.sourcewatch.org/index.php?title=Category:All...ilots
see there are people on the planes, their passports
http://www.paglen.com/Images/IMG_1546_small.jpg

http://debates.oireachtas.ie/DDebate.aspx?F=SEN20071107...#N102
Senator David Norris: Can we have a debate on rendition, perhaps when the Irish Human Rights Commission issues its report on that subject? I understand the report will be very damaging. The head of the commission, former Senator Maurice Manning, is a pretty restrained person with a distinguished record in this House. He indicated that the Government had been trying to interfere with this report and that if it continued to do so it would have “a bloody fight on their hands”. The commission has been infuriated by the Government’s attempts to soften what may well be a damning report on rendition. It will confirm what people, especially those on this side of the House, have had to say about the subject.

author by Nashpublication date Thu Nov 08, 2007 23:20author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Because of its iniquity Shannon has attracted bad Karma.
The end of the Heathrow link is just the beginning.

author by Edward Horganpublication date Thu Nov 08, 2007 23:22author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Contrarian is wrong when he/she says that "The extension of facilities to the US military was a decision of Government, approved by Dail resolution and later found to be entirely lawful in the landmark case of Horgan v An Taoiseach."
Judge Kearns in Horgan v Ireland ruled against me (Horgan) on the issues of Article 28 and 29 of the constitution. However, he ruled in my favour on the issue of Ireland being in clear breach of international law, that is the Hague Convention V on Neutrality by allowing US troops to use Shannon airport on their way to and from a war in Iraq. Nothing in connection with the US military or CIA use of Shannon has ever been ruled "entirely lawful".
The CIA flights through Shannon are in clear breach of UN Convention Against Torture because they facilitate the perpetration of torture. It is a crime against this convention not only to commit torture but also to facilitate torture and to fail to take all possible steps to prevent torture.
Please read these laws and conventions properly and dont just parrot Irish government appologists like Eoin Ryan and Sean O'Neachtain.

I see that the Chief Inspector of the Gardai Kathleen O'Toole is now taking an interest in the use of Shannon in the rendition for torture programme.

Irish Times 8 nov 07
"Meanwhile, she said her inspectorate had not been asked to look at the apparent refusal of gardai to search suspected rendition flights arriving at Shannon airport, but the Irish Human Rights Commission would soon be publishing a report on the issue and she would “definitely” look at the findings with interest.
“And if we think it’s appropriate at any time in the future to look at that we will … policing is all about human rights,” she said. “Whether it’s in Ireland or elsewhere, you can count on me being on the human rights bandwagon”.
If there was a “glaring concern” from the community about police practices, then the inspectorate would look into it, she said.

Now I wonder who prompted her to say these things?

author by Red soxs fanpublication date Fri Nov 09, 2007 06:31author address author phone Report this post to the editors

first of all may i say that it is extremely racist to say that latino,s etc make up the main bulk of people going down to iraq.what you are saying is basically these people make up the lower pay scale of the united states and that white people ie the bush,clinton etc family ,are too busy spending there cash.this is a pretty low blow in my opinion!i passed through shannon on my way home to the US after holidaying in ireland and there was several troop flights on the ground at the time and from what i saw there was more white soldiers than any other race in military uniform.just because you get one photo of two women which arent white you somehow decide that this magically means that its all latinos etc going to iraq?
Solid reporting as always guys!!Another thing is there was a biz jet on the ground also and i actually saw the passengers come off this aircraft and come into the duty free to shop and to be honest they most of been the best dressed CIA detainees i have ever seen!Ha HA.Just because a biz-jet lands in shannon doesnt mean its a torture flight,there are quiet a lot of wealthy people out there who own or lease jets.Yee see a biz-jet land and automatically alarm bells ring in yeer tiny minds and think this has to be a cia flight,what a load of horse shit!!

author by Edward Horganpublication date Fri Nov 09, 2007 15:15author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Red Soxs fan accuses me of racism yet he misquotes me in several respects. i did not use the term "latino", he did introduced it. I did not say that "the main bulk of people going down to Iraq" were Latinos. What I did say and I stand over this because I have seen and met US troops in the Duty free area of Shannon airport on several occasions, is a follows:
"A significant number of the US soldiers passing through Shannon are women, and a significant number of them come from Afro/Asian and Latin American backgrounds." There is nothing racist about this accurate statement. I sincerely hope that the two soldiers photographed above arrive home safely from Iraq. It is reasonable to assume that because of their new looking and fresh uniforms that they are just beginning their tour of duty. Soldiers returning from Iraq usually have far more faded and worn-looking uniforms.

Also I am very well aware that many civilian business jets land at Shannon. We have ways of identifying the ownership of all planes landing at Shannon and we normally do this before making an issue concerning particular aircraft. We know the CIA aircraft reg numbers because they are listed on the Council of Europe and European Parliament rendition investigation reports. The Gulfstream plane, N475LC is confirmed as a CIA rendition plane by many reliable sources.
The other Gulfstream 70140 is also officially listed as belonging to the US army "Priority Transportation Unit." We do get our facts right.
The horse shit is comming from you Red Soxs.

author by Bronterre O'Brienpublication date Fri Nov 09, 2007 16:28author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Many an Irish town used to have its 'Shell Shock' terrace. Here lived the maimed and wounded in mind and body and spirit, veterans of WW1, poor people, whose choice in life had been join the British army and receive a survival pittance, or live even below that level in a slum in England.
Look at the occupations of the American dead from Iraq, what they did for a living before they joined up. They come mostly from the lower levels of the working class, of all ethnicities and creeds. Conscription or not, there has always been an economic draft.
Kipling, after his son was killed in the War (yes that one, fought for the freedom of small nations) had an anti-imperial moment when he said:

And the old widow at Windsor,
pays her beggars in blood.

It was true then, and its sadly true today.

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