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NY Billing Dispute Reveals Details of Secret CIA Rendition Flights

On Aug. 12, 2003, a Gulfstream IV aircraft carrying six passengers took off from Dulles International Airport and flew to Bangkok with fueling stops in Cold Bay, Alaska, and Osaka, Japan. The Gulfstream IV’s itinerary, as well as the $339,228.05 price tag for the journey, are among the details about shadowy CIA flights that have emerged in a small Upstate New York courthouse in a billing dispute between contractors. The court documents offer a rare glimpse of the costs and operations of the… ( More...

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JD345 0
What a rinky-dink operation. Proof positive that convoluted CIA conspiracy theories are impossible due insurmountable levels of incompetence. Can't use a USAF G-IV/V... can't call up Richmor Aviation and arrange the charter yourself...

No, for your super-secret CIA operation, call up some cheapskate broker from Long Island who will arrange the charter for you and subsequently not pay up, then let lawsuits go back and forth for nearly a decade without taking any of a million easy steps to make everybody happy and make this all go away quietly... nope. Can't make this stuff up.

From the Richmor Aviation site:

"We are Not Jet Charter Brokers.

Why hire a broker to charter a jet for you when you can arrange for luxury jet charters directly with a company that owns/manages the fleet of jets, maintains the aircraft, selects and hires the jet pilots, providing exceptional service with Charter Concierge."
richard weiss 0
Obviously Inspector Clouseau of the French Police must have been running the operation for the CIA. For amount paid for charter flights, we could have bought the jets and change the tail numbers after each trip.

I personally have no problem with the mission objective. The rendition program saved American lives, by producing valuable intelligence. I do question the CIA's ability to operate in secrecy.

Message to CIA headquarters: Spies operate in secrecy. Remember the previous statement and you will avoid making headlines.
gary stevens 0
They could have gotten the same result by putting the guy in Coach on Delta. 6 hours of that, and you'll sign anything.
meeverett 0
Apparently the CIA needs to hire some bankers. If they had bankers on staff, they could have made the 12 million it would cost to simply buy a G-IV. Seriously, a 30 second search yielded this prime example:

One thing does really bother me though. I'm American-born and not a terrorist, but I'll probably never get to fly in anything that posh even if the government is paying the bill.
meeverett 0
Correction to the above:

"If they had bankers on staff, they could have made the 12 million it would cost to simply buy a G-IV disappear."
Wingscrubber 0
Matt - good point, but who would the airplane be registered to? :)
Maybe the need for 'secrecy' demands the services of third party charter operations.
Brian Bishop 0
Exactly, scrubber. the way to hide things is through layers and layers of different transactions that create a difficult trail to follow when they get mixed in with all the other transactions taking place by the same people at the same time. Pretty simple strategy actually. It's the same way the mob launders money - or so I hear :) .
meeverett 0
With the right people, the CIA could easily have created a tangled web of corporations that even the most diligent money-followers couldn't untangle. This same network of corporations could also be used to make the cash disappear. Then all you do is pick a company and buy the plane.

The problem is that this way requires effort, but all the contractors get paid and nobody knows anything. On the other hand, it's easy to call a guy that the mob recommends because he can get them a nice jet with no questions asked. The trouble is that when the mob gets screwed an unknown broker wakes up dead and nobody knows why.
Matt Comerford 0
General Petraeus is now the head of the CIA, lets see what he can do.
JD345 0
When problems came up with the broker and the charter company, why not just step in and settle it? Or charter the jet directly? Or use a USAF G-IV, repaint it if you have to...

Or buy your own jet... "expense" is a very loose concept to the government, and the CIA probably spends more than $12m on coffee filters and inkpens every year. Once you have the jet, the FAA is only a ten minute drive away so it wouldn't be hard to register it in the name of Bob Smith who's a six-foot brown-haired white guy who must have had notoriously bad handwriting because the phone number is for an elementary school and there's no 7800 block of 16th Street in that city... Cops come up with stuff better than this every day of the week.

By now it doesn't matter... everybody knows this stuff was happening and it's a politically obsolete story already. It IS hilarious, though... Leave it up to the Keystone Intelligence Agency.

Albert Cooper 0
Just the tip of the iceberg when you are dealing with govt. stupidity.
richard weiss 0
Since I'm a Viet Nam era guy, I'm old enough to remember Air America. We had guys just show up at landing sites in gray helicopters, get a load of fuel and leave. Anyone who flew helicopters back in those days must remember these guys. No one questioned them. It turned into Evergreen Airlines . These were the guys who flew the Shau(sp) of Iran out of Tehran in 1979. Why did the CIA get out of the organic aviation business? Wouldn't it be cheaper and easier to avoid the whacko leftest if they could change tail numbers like Kim Kardashian changes underwear? Comeon people, we will not survive as a nation without covert operatives doing our unsavory bidding. This whole "gotcha" mentality will not serve us well.
meeverett 0
It was before my time, but Air America is exactly what I had in mind. I just don't buy the thought that relying uncontrolled, third-party brokers is better (or more secretive) than normal looking guys flying nondescript aircraft, even if one of them jumps out at every fourth stop and changes the tail number.
JD345 0
exactly Richard... Reasonable people can disagree on rendition, but these days people watch too many movies, or something... Now everybody thinks spying is bad.
andy streit 0
Interesting Article. If you do a search on, you will not find any photos or information about that aircraft. Its' almost as though, it never existed. The only photos you will find, are of its' re-registered number of N227SV.
preacher1 0
Richard remembers the gray helicopters; I remember the unpainted 727's that ran all over SE Asia during late 60's. They actually performed a legitimate function up our way. They made the daily freedom bird flight taking all us USAF guys from down country bases in South Korea up to Osan to get on the NORTHWEST ORIENT across the big pond. Actually rode one in 72


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