Nettime mailing list archives

<nettime> FW: [IP] How planespotters turned into the scourge of the CIA
Gurstein, Michael on Sat, 10 Dec 2005 19:54:36 +0100 (CET)

[Date Prev] [Date Next] [Thread Prev] [Thread Next] [Date Index] [Thread Index]

<nettime> FW: [IP] How planespotters turned into the scourge of the CIA

Note the role of the website www.airliners.net in all this!


From: Brian Randell <Brian.Randell {AT} newcastle.ac.uk>
Date: December 10, 2005 5:43:22 AM EST
To: dave {AT} farber.net
Subject: How planespotters (+ the WWW) turned into the scourge of the


I don't know how fully the story of the information-gathering role 
played by plane spotters in the mounting controversy here in Europe 
about the CIA and "rendition" has featured in the US media, but in 
case it hasn't, you might want this for IP.




 From the (UK) Guardian newspaper:

How planespotters turned into the scourge of the CIA

Gerard Seenan and Giles Tremlett
Saturday December 10, 2005
The Guardian

Paul last saw the Gulfstream V about 18 months ago. He comes down to 
Glasgow airport's planespotters' club most days. He had not seen the 
plane before so he marked the serial number down in his book. At the 
time, he did not think there was anything unusual about the 
Gulfstream being ushered to a stand away from public view, one that 
could not be seen from the airport terminal or the club's prime view.

But that flight this week was at the centre of a transatlantic row 
that saw the prime minister being put on the spot on the floor of the 
House of Commons and the US secretary of state, Condoleezza Rice, 
forced on the defensive during a visit to Europe. The Gulfstream V 
has been identified as having been used by the CIA for "extraordinary 
renditions" - abducting terror suspects and taking them to secret 
prisons around the world where they may be tortured.

The recording of flights by spotters like Paul from places as far 
afield as Bournemouth and Karachi has unintentionally played a 
significant role in helping journalists and human rights groups 
expose the scale of the CIA's renditions system. But his impact on 
such international intrigue largely passes Paul by. "It's not the CIA 
bit that interests us. You don't even know who owns the plane when 
you take down the serial number," he said, already distracted as 
something comes in to land through the grey drizzle. "You keep 
accurate logs, for your own records."
. . .

Despite the particular eccentricity of planespotting - and the 
obvious capacity for fun-poking - it is not a pastime limited to 
Britain. In Spain town planner Josep Manchado is part of a small 
group who gather with their long lenses and foil-wrapped sandwiches 
at Majorca's Son Sant Joan airport.

In January last year Mr Manchado saw a Boeing 737 on the airport 
tarmac. He pressed his camera shutter button while speculating idly 
that some US millionaire was in town. Then he put the picture of the 
Boeing (tail fin number N313P) on airliners.net, and forgot about it.

Within a few days Mr Manchado starting getting strange calls and 
emails. They came from the US and from Sweden. "People were asking me 
questions about the plane. They obviously weren't all planespotters 
because they were asking questions that people who know about planes 
don't ask," he said.

Activists and journalists had become interested in the rendition 
flights. There were also, however, strange calls. "One man wanted to 
buy up all the photos. He eventually sent me a form in which he asked 
for everything, including my home address. I didn't give it to him 
and I never heard from him again," he said.
. . .

For those prepared to sift through the endless information complied 
by planespotters and posted on websites, there are many more clues to 
the CIA's activities to be found. In Ireland peace campaigners have 
turned themselves into planespotters.

At Shannon airport Tim Hourigan uses a scanner that allows him to see 
what air traffic control sees, and he, and other activists, 
religiously note down the numbers of landing planes. Then, using a 
combination of Federal Airport Authority Records and planespotting 
websites, they can track the movements of intelligence planes across 
the world. "It is a tedious job looking through hundreds of pictures 
of planes," says Mr Hourigan, who is not a planespotting enthusiast. 
"But it allows you to confirm and expose the activities of the CIA 
and our own government."
. . .

Full story at: http://www.guardian.co.uk/humanrights/story/
School of Computing Science, University of Newcastle, Newcastle upon 
EMAIL =3D Brian.Randell {AT} ncl.ac.uk   PHONE =3D +44 191 222 7923
FAX =3D +44 191 222 8232  URL =3D =

You are subscribed as mgurst {AT} vcn.bc.ca
To manage your subscription, go to

Archives at:

----- End forwarded message -----

#  distributed via <nettime>: no commercial use without permission
#  <nettime> is a moderated mailing list for net criticism,
#  collaborative text filtering and cultural politics of the nets
#  more info: majordomo {AT} bbs.thing.net and "info nettime-l" in the msg body
#  archive: http://www.nettime.org contact: nettime {AT} bbs.thing.net