N71PG at Shannon
A CIA controlled Learjet reg no N71PG was refuelled at dawn this morning at Shannon and made a hasty exit within the hour. It had been due two hours earlier, in the hours of darkness as usual.
Unlike the two other CIA planes recently refuelled at Shannon, Gulfstream N476LC refuelled on 30 Oct 07 and Gulfstream N478GS refuelled on 30 Nov 07, both of which were notorious torture rendition planes, we know very little about N71PG so far. Please carry out some research and try and dig up its CIA history. We should remember that when the now infamous N379P, known as the Guantanamo Express was first seen at Shannon and logged on indymedia by Tim Hourigan, we were not even aware of the CIA torture rendition programme. Such murky and gross violations of human rights are by their very nature very difficult to expose.
When I arrived at Shannon airport to check on the latest CIA arrival at 07.55 am on Mon 3 Dec 07, it was already on the ground being refuelled, and located just in front of the security and fire brigade buildings. I phone Shannon garda station and spoke to Sgt Noel McMahon, and requested that he have this plane searched by gardai. He gave me the usual guff about needing concrete “proof” of prisoners on board the plane before gardai could search the plane. He even cited the fact that gardai could not search my home just on the basis of reports or complaints by neighbours. He is wrong of course. Gardai can get warrants to search private homes if there is reasonable suspicion of that house is being used for criminal purposes.
An example that has been reported to me occurred in December 2006. I am informed that an automatic pistol went missing from a US military or air force plane at Shannon. Gardai got a warrant to search the home of an employee at Shannon airport, and arrested the individual and held him for questioning for about 36 hours. The only concrete “proof” or “evidence” that a gun was missing was that a US soldier had reported that his pistol was missing. It has been reported that the US military have managed to “loose” over 100,000 weapons including very many automatic rifles in Iraq, that have probably fallen into the hands of insurgents, so one more pistol lost seems insignificant by comparison.
The crime of torture is far more serious than the loss or possible theft of one pistol. Yet the gardai need “proof that will stand up in court” that prisoners are on board the CIA planes at Shannon, before they will even look through the windows or doors of the plane. I have discovered separately that gardai at Shannon are being very careful not to be caught or photographed on protection duty on CIA planes at Shannon, in case they are accused of protecting tortures. However, they normally do protection duty on all US military planes at Shannon, in spite of the fact that more than half of the prisoners at Guantanamo were transported there on US military planes, rather than on CIA jets.
I now want to make an appeal.
We need volunteers to assist in the process of monitoring US military and CIA planes at Shannon airport. Our team of monitors has been successfully reduced by garda harassment and abuse of the courts system by gardai. These are the same gardai that are daily refusing to comply with the Criminal Justice (UN Convention Against Torture Act) 2002, by failing to investigate and prevent complicity in the crime of torture at Shannon airport.
I would also ask that comments and postings on this topic in indymedia be confined to the broader issues of the gross human rights abuses inflicted on prisoners under the US rendition for torture programme, and to the specifics of what is happening at Shannon. The airing of personal grievance against the justice systems in Ireland and elsewhere, should be kept for another forum or separate indymedia postings. The abuses inflicting on many of these prisoners include execution at the end of the torture process. The airing by individuals of their own lesser personal injustices distracts from our efforts to prevent the crimes of torture being facilitated at Shannon airport.
We need volunteers urgently to carry out research on the internet, and to engage in monitoring at Shannon airport on a more regular basis. Surely from a population of over 4 million people, it should be possible to find more that a few people to monitor and report on the crimes of torture.
Please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have time to spend either on research or monitory CIA and US military planes. If you can’t spare a few hours, then God Bless You.
Remember the story from the Nazi era, “when they came for me, there was no one left to protest on my behalf”.