RENDITION FLIGHTS are not a good thing but those who think Irish inspections of US flights through Shannon Airport will either reveal irregularities or uncover rendition passengers are living in a parallel universe. Let me tell you one over-reaching fact about rendition airlift missions from my past career as an airlift planner, command centre controller and aircraft commander: once a USAF aircraft with the Stars and Stripes on its tail lands on foreign soil, the cargo aboard that aircraft is considered part of the sovereign territory of the US. Some might think that is an obnoxious perspective but it is the framework of reference that I taught to upcoming aircraft commanders and it was the principle that guided the military's command and control of assets while transiting the airspace and territories of other countries.
Although most rendition flights are contracted through the intelligence services of the US government, most of the aircrews were trained under these guidelines. No courtesy call by an unarmed member of the Irish Defence Forces will change a thing about the way rendition flights operate.
I did not carry rendition passengers although I have transported their couriers and I have assisted in moving Aghan Freedom Fighters throughout southwest Asia and its environs. I talk a little about my first-hand experience in a podcast (Underway in Ireland #19 37 MB mp3 download), knowing full well that the 3000 flight hours I logged for the US military are ancient history at this point. Besides, as an instructor aircraft commander and airlift control centre duty officer, I might have seen things differently than official spokespeople. But to whom would you award greater trust? To a Rumsfeld minnion or to a mealy-mouthed blogger?
Angelique Chrisatis -- "Concerns grow in Ireland over use of Shannon Airport as US militart stopover" in the Guardian, 21 January 2006. Following that article, Blogger found 68,013 references to the word "rendition" among active weblogs.
Podcasting from Ireland -- "Digital rendition underway"
Image of me leaving my C-141 scanned into my Flickr photostream.