The British Government announced today that the United States recently provided information on rendition flights through Diego Garcia-a UK territory in the Indian Ocean-that contradicted earlier data from us.
Our government had told the British that there had been no rendition flights involving their soil or airspace since 9/11. That information, supplied in good faith, turned out to be wrong.
In fact, on two different occasions in 2002, an American plane with a detainee aboard stopped briefly in Diego Garcia for refuelling.
Neither of those individuals was ever part of CIA’s high-value terrorist interrogation program. One was ultimately transferred to Guantanamo, and the other was returned to his home country.
These were rendition operations, nothing more. There has been speculation in the press over the years that CIA had a holding facility on Diego Garcia. That is false. There have also been allegations that we transport detainees for the purpose of torture. That, too, is false.
Torture is against our laws and our values. And, given our mission, CIA could have no interest in a process destined to produce bad intelligence.
In late 2007, CIA itself took a fresh look at records on rendition flights. This time, the examination revealed the two stops in Diego Garcia.
The refuelling, conducted more than five years ago, lasted just a short time. But it happened. That we found this mistake ourselves, and that we brought it to the attention of the British Government, in no way changes or excuses the reality that we were in the wrong.
An important part of intelligence work, inherently urgent, complex, and uncertain, is to take responsibility for errors and to learn from them. In this case, the result of a flawed records search, we have done so.
The CIA employs Woody Allen to write statement on rendition. Turns out he’s got heartburn.