Smithfield-based company accused of flying terror suspects across globe


SMITHFIELD, N.C. (WNCN) – The CIA is accused of using Aero Contractors, based out of Smithfield, to move terror suspects all over the globe.

Aero Contractors is accused of moving terror suspects from all over the world to secret camps for interrogation.

The flights have been called the “torture taxi.”

If you have been to downtown Smithfield chances are the bright yellow trim at Crickets Diner caught your attention.

What is hidden from your sight, tucked behind the trees and across a field, is an airplane hanger.

The hanger is owned by Aero Contractors, the company said to be transport arm for the CIA.

“I believe there is a large body of evidence that Aero Contractors has been involved in illegal activity, conspiracy to kidnap, assistance to kidnapping and transport of helpless victims to torture,” said Christina Cowger with the North Carolina Commission of Inquiry on Torture.

According to a 2007 investigation, state officials were more than aware of the operations of Aero Contractors.

In fact, several state legislators asked the attorney general to launch a separate investigation.

There have been no direct allegations that employees of the company were engaged in the torture of terror suspects, but there are allegations that they moved suspects to secret camps all around the globe.

Cowger claims that is a violation of the law. She also says the state and federal government are complicit by Aero to rent space in a taxpayer funded building.

“No, I don’t think it is appropriate that our tax dollars are used to fortify the corner of the airport that Aero Contractors is housed at, I think it is deliberate effort to cover up and conceal from the public what Aero Contractors is doing,” Cowger said.

On the far side of the airport the fence has seen better days, allowing anyone to walk right onto the runway.

A stark contrast to the entrance of Aero.

Cowger says the fence and other security equipment were paid for by you the taxpayer.

CBS North Carolina was turned away at the gate when reporter Richard Essex attempted to take a look.

David Crane, a former intelligence officer and federal prosecutor, claims 9/11 pushed the U.S. into the dark, slippery shadows of interrogation.

“The United States did not torture individuals until after 9/11. It was against policy, and it just wasn’t the way we did business,” Crane said.

The North Carolina Commission of Inquiry on Torture is hosting two days of testimony here in Raleigh and are expected to issue a report next summer.

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