Magazine article The New Yorker

THE C.I.A.'S TRAVEL AGENT; OUTSOURCING; OUTSOURCING Series: 2/5

Magazine article The New Yorker

THE C.I.A.'S TRAVEL AGENT; OUTSOURCING; OUTSOURCING Series: 2/5

Article excerpt

On the official Web site of Boeing, the world's largest aerospace company, there is a section devoted to a subsidiary called Jeppesen International Trip Planning, based in San Jose, California. The write-up mentions that the division "offers everything needed for efficient, hassle-free, international flight operations," spanning the globe "from Aachen to Zhengzhou." The paragraph concludes, "Jeppesen has done it all."

Boeing does not mention, either on its Web site or in its annual report, that Jeppesen's clients include the C.I.A., and that among the international trips that the company plans for the agency are secret "extraordinary rendition" flights for terrorism suspects. Most of the planes used in rendition flights are owned and operated by tiny charter airlines that function as C.I.A. front companies, but it is not widely known that the agency has turned to a division of Boeing, the publicly traded blue-chip behemoth, to handle many of the logistical and navigational details for these trips, including flight plans, clearance to fly over other countries, hotel reservations, and ground-crew arrangements.

The Bush Administration has defended the clandestine rendition program, which began during the Clinton years, as an effective method of transporting terrorists to countries where they can be questioned or held. Human-rights activists and others have said the program's primary intent is to send suspects to detention centers where they can be interrogated harshly, and have criticized it as an illegal means of "outsourcing torture."

A former Jeppesen employee, who asked not to be identified, said recently that he had been startled to learn, during an internal corporate meeting, about the company's involvement with the rendition flights. At the meeting, he recalled, Bob Overby, the managing director of Jeppesen International Trip Planning, said, "We do all of the extraordinary rendition flights--you know, the torture flights. Let's face it, some of these flights end up that way." The former employee said that another executive told him, "We do the spook flights." He was told that two of the company's trip planners were specially designated to handle renditions. He was deeply troubled by the rendition program, he said, and eventually quit his job. He recalled Overby saying, "It certainly pays well. They"--the C.I.A.--"spare no expense. They have absolutely no worry about costs. What they have to get done, they get done."

Overby, who was travelling last week, did not return several phone calls. …

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