When googling around for information on the Uzbek elections for the post below, I came across a recent story on the torture plane - the white Gulfstram (tailnumber N379P) used by the US government to "render" terrorist suspects across national boundries so that they can be tortured.
The torture plane, it seems, has become an open secret in the "war on terror". And people have started looking into it. What they've discovered is unsurprising:
The plane's owner of record, Premier Executive Transport Services Inc., lists directors and officers who appear to exist only on paper. And each one of those directors and officers has a recently issued Social Security number and an address consisting only of a post office box, according to an extensive search of state, federal and commercial records.
Each of the officers of Premier Executive is linked in public records to one of five post office box numbers in Arlington, Oakton, Chevy Chase and the District. A total of 325 names are registered to the five post office boxes.
An extensive database search of a sample of 44 of those names turned up none of the information that usually emerges in such a search: no previous addresses, no past or current telephone numbers, no business or corporate records. In addition, although most names were attached to dates of birth in the 1940s, '50s or '60s, all were given Social Security numbers between 1998 and 2003.
In other words, what we are looking at is a CIA front company, designed to act as an owner of record for the plane and provide a tissue of commercial cover to its activities. Now that tissue has broken down, to the extent that planespotters are looking out for this aircraft, photographing it, and reporting its movements. This scrutiny - and regular mentions in media reports - have forced the CIA to juggle the corporate shell in an unsuccessful attempt to regain some secrecy:
Three weeks ago, on Dec. 1, the plane, complete with a new tail number, was transferred to a new owner, Bayard Foreign Marketing of Portland, Ore., according to FAA records. Its registered agent in Portland, Scott Caplan, did not return phone calls.
Like the officers at Premier Executive, Bayard's sole listed corporate officer, Leonard T. Bayard, has no residential or telephone history. Unlike Premier's officers, Bayard's name does not appear in any other public records.
Since then, they have changed tail numbers again. The torture plane spent some time as N8068V, but in an effort to break the link that registration now claims to be for a deregistered helicopter (an italian page has the original details). Now it seems the tailnumber to watch for is N44982...