The Nossiter Net
The net that shall enmesh them all
Edited, Written, and Published by Josh Nossiter
The Morning Mendacity
Tuesday, May 31st, 2005
The Nossiter Net is cast  to snare some of  the riper rascalities of the day.  Comments?  editor@nossiter.net
Your tax dollars at work:  according to the New York Times, the CIA operates its own airline, a fleet of some twenty-six planes ranging from a 737 to military transports to corporate jets.*  The craft are used to ferry suspected terrorists to countries that sanction torture and for other useful, though unspecified, jobs.  What kind of jobs?  An earlier incarnation of CIAir, called Air America, was shut down in the eighties when it became known that the planes were routinely laden with South American drugs.

More of your tax dollars at work:  the AP reports that many of the passengers on these CIA joyrides are sold to the agency by our allies among the Afghans and the Pakistanis.**   Starving innocents, snared with offers of food or gulled by other means by warlords and Pakistani intelligence officers, are re-packaged as terrorists and traded to the CIA for millions of dollars in bounty money.

All of which made us curious to see how the CIA’s service compares to United or Air France.  We joined CIAir Flight 007 in Kandahar, en route to Guantanamo, with stops in Damascus and Cairo.  The plane, an ordinary-looking Gulfstream jet, has nothing to identify it as a CIAir craft, though the metal braces that replace the headrests and the ring bolts where the tray tables should be offer some evidence that this is no ordinary flight.  The loudspeaker crackles to life with the unnaturally chirpy voice of a flight attendant.

“Good afternoon gentlemen, and welcome to CIAir 007, with service to Guantanamo Bay.  Our flight crew will do everything we can to make your voyage as uncomfortable as possible.  Please ensure that your seat backs are in the upright position, and that your tray tables are folded into the seat in front of you prior to take off.  Just kidding!  Your seatbacks don’t move, and there are no tray tables!  But that’s ok, because we aren’t going to serve any food or drinks, and we aren’t going to let you go to sleep either.”

The young man beside me groaned.  He muttered through clenched teeth that he hadn’t had anything to eat in two days, and had been looking forward to at least a bag of peanuts.   The flight attendant wasn’t quite through.

“Now please check to make sure that your shackles and handcuffs are snugly attached for takeoff, sit back, relax, and enjoy the flight.  Not!”

Without further ceremony, the Gulfstream’s engines roared to life and we began rolling down the pothole-filled Kandahar runway.  Most of the passengers, tightly bolted to the seats in front of them, gasped in pain with each bump.  Taking off steeply to avoid shoulder-launched missiles, the jet shot into the night sky.  The g-forces thrust us painfully against the seatbacks, making breathing a chore.  Finally airborne, the loudspeaker once more gave tongue, in the unmistakable twang of a Texas pilot.

“This is your captain speaking.  We are climbing to an altitude of thirty thousand feet.  Our cruising altitude will vary between that and five hundred feet, depending on the range of the ground based radar.  Should we lose cabin pressure, no oxygen masks will descend, so just hold your breath as long as you can.  In the event of an abrupt change in altitude, please be very alarmed:  pulling out of a headlong dive ain’t easy!  Flying time to Damascus, Cairo, and Gitmo is classified.  So is our speed.  Passengers on the port side of the aircraft will have a fine view of the Himalayas in a few minutes.  Or at least you would if we weren’t traveling in the dead of night.  We’re looking at some fairly serious headwinds en route.  These will both delay our arrival and cause a lot of turbulence;  our flight plan was chosen with a deal of care.  We recommend that you do as we do in the cabin, and remain strapped in as long as you are seated.  Not that you can get up if you wanted to! In the unlikely event that any of you will be flying this, or indeed any, airline again, thank you for choosing CIAir.”

*http://www.nytimes.com/2005/05/31/national/31planes.html?
**http://www.nytimes.com/aponline/international/AP-Guantanamo-Prisoners-for-Sale.html

©Joshua C. Nossiter, 2005
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