Denmark has become the latest European country to launch an investigation into covert CIA flights transporting terror suspects. Interestingly, this time the renditions in question took place in a territory outside of Europe: Greenland.
A documentary broadcast Wednesday by the DR1 TV network in Denmark made a claim that CIA flights transporting terror suspects touched down at an airport in Greenland in 2005. The Danish prime minister responded on Thursday by saying it is fully investigating the claim. Greenland is an overseas province of Denmark.
The flight would have been part of the controversial and top-secret “extraordinary rendition” program the CIA has been running in which terror suspects were transported to countries outside the United States. Human rights groups have claimed the flights were intended to transfer the prisoners to countries or jurisdictions that allow torture.
A February 2007 report by the European Parliament said at least 1,245 secret flights operated by the CIA flew into European airspace or stopped over at European airfields after September 11, 2001. The report also accused several European governments of either knowing about the flights or turning a blind eye to them.
A June 2006 report from the Council of Europe estimated that 100 people had been kidnapped in the EU by the CIA and rendered to other countries, often after having transited through secret detention centers, or black sites, used by the CIA in cooperation with other governments.
Such rendition would be operating outside of the bounds of international law. In the process, US agents are believed to have abducted people in EU territory, taken them into US custody, and then delivered them to a third-party state, often without ever being on American soil. All of this would have been done without involving the judiciary system of the US, the country the person is a citizen of, or the country they were abducted from.
The CIA was granted permission to use rendition in a presidential directive signed by President Bill Clinton in 1995, but the practice was little used until the September 11 attacks.