14 arrested exposing CIA torture flights

By Dante Strobino
FIST member
Johnston County, N.C.

Two other Raleigh FIST members and I drove with an independent documentarian to Johnston County, N.C., at 6 a.m. on Nov. 18 to join agroup of 50 to 60 people for a direct action against Aero Contractors Ltd, a CIA torture air-taxi service.

Aero uses the Johnston County Airport to store their planes that areoften summoned by the CIA to transport captives for "extraordinaryrendition," a code word for transport to countries other than the U.S.for torture, or as some call it, "outsourced torture."

We all met in 29-degree weather at St. Anne's Catholic Church at 7a.m. in John ston County and drove together to the airport. Uponarrival a group of fourteen of us walked around the fence surroundingthe airport and onto Aero Contractor's land. There we gathered in acircle and read political statements and an indictment, detailing howAero's torture program with the CIA violates international law.

As we openly lamented for the victims of CIA torture, securityapproached us and asked us to leave.We read our statements into amicrophone as we were being handcuffed. One participant, JoshMcIntyre, a member of Raleigh's Amnesty Inter national, approached thedoor of Aero and knocked. The person opening the door pointed anelectric-shock Taser gun at McIntyre, who backed away and left a copyof our indictment at the door. McIntyre was soon arrested.

Of the 14 arrested, several were members of Catholic Worker Houseseither here in North Carolina or in St. Louis, Missouri. Othersarrested included Kathy Kelly, the founder of Voices in the Wilderness from Chicago; a North Carolina State University professor andmember of the North Carolina Green Party; a worker for the AmericanFriends Service Com mittee, a member of the International SolidarityMovement and a Code Pink member. I was there from the Raleigh chapter of Fight Imperialism, Stand Together (FIST), a youth activist group.

Some of those arrested had come to North Carolina on their way toGeorgia to protest against the School of Americas (SOA), a U.S.torture and assassin-training institute that sends graduates to LatinAmerica to terrorize the population.

Immediately following our arrests, other anti-war activists deliveredan indic tment to officers and directors of Aero Con tractors chargingthese officers with violations of federal criminal law andinternational law. Deputies then escorted the activists to delivercopies to the director of the Johnston County Airport, members of theJohnston County Airport Authority and the Johnston County Board ofCommissioners.

The letters asked the airport and the county to investigate thecharges raised in the indictment and to take appropriate measures tocease Aero Contractors' operations in furtherance of "extraordinaryrendition."

Other members of the group held signs and performed street theateralong Route 70 during rush-hour traffic to alert commuters to Aero'storture-related activities.

We prisoners were the talk of the jailhouse, with others incarceratedwalking past our holding cell to congratulate us. Co-arrestee PatrickO'Neill entertained us all day with his stories of civil disobediencearrests, specifically with his experience in this same jail with Philip Berrigan, one of the Plowshares Eight.

The magistrate did all she could to give us a hard time, sitting onour paperwork for the bulk of the day.Our attorney, working pro bonothrough the ACLU, finally got our bond lowered. We left the jail at 5p.m. feeling empowered and were welcomed with great media coverage.

Stop Torture Now!


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