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Torture Taxi: On the Trail of the CIA's Rendition Flights Hardcover – October 1, 2006

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Editorial Reviews


“The book shows just how far two guys without any high-placed government contacts can go in blowing open a story of global import.”
The San Francisco Chronicle

“What Paglen and Thompson offer here is a glimpse at the logistics of torture, and the public’s role in the brutal business of the CIA…. the book excels at filling in blanks, painting a mysterious and frightening picture of our ‘wartime’ actions.”
TIME OUT Chicago

“The cool, almost dispassionate tone taken by Trevor Paglen and A.C. Thompson makes their book all the more disturbing…. Their conclusion is that the end of this story is not yet written.”
The Washington Examiner

“Torture Taxi describes something a lot like the creation of a CIA airline…. Paglen and Thompson do an admirable job of synthesizing it and decoding it… terrifically fascinating.”
The Pittsburg Post Gazette

"The first book documenting the US government practice of extraordinary rendition."
—Amy Goodman, Democracy Now

About the Author

Trevor Paglen is an expert on clandestine military installations. He leads expeditions to the secret bases of the American west and is the author, with AC Thompson, of Torture Taxi.


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Melville House (September 24, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1933633093
  • ISBN-13: 978-1933633091
  • Product Dimensions: 5.8 x 0.8 x 7.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,067,068 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Trevor Paglen's work blurs boundaries to construct unfamiliar ways to see and interpret the world around us.

His interests include future warfare, state secrecy, experimental geography, anthropogeomorphology, deep-time, and cave art. He spends more time thinking about modernist painting than he would like to admit.

Trevor Paglen lives and works in New York.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

14 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Siriam on January 18, 2008
Format: Hardcover
The book is an easy read (though not very enjoyable given its subject matter) of how the current situation of numerous unlawful kidnappings of different countries citizens in the names of the US war on terror has come to pass and the potential consequences.

The overall style is investigative reporting but this is no Woodward/Bernstein style opus because the writers have no important inside sources spilling the beans. Instead what you get is a good trail of all the historical evidence, how the position grew under prior US presidents but always with the ability to disclaim knowledge until "Dubya" proved to be the post 9/11 president who wanted to show hands on involvement, and a post 9/11 turf war which the FBI lost and the CIA under George Tenet has probably taken too far in the adverse consequences for that organisation and the US government.

The book is heavy on facts (especially how the global hobby of plane spotting and flight tracking proved the undoing of and publicising of the CIA's secret programme) but poor on analysis. There is for example minimal understanding conveyed of how many governments (such as Sweden and Germany) that had been against the US war on Iraq proved such willing accomplices and without which the US rendition programme would never have worked.

What is clear is that the programme has had minimal success with a great number of irrelevant or innocent operatives having been subject to different forms of imprisonment and torture and in turn the way the programme has been operated making it impossible to bring any proven cases to trial. The end victim is US credibility in many countries though the current US policy hold of not being weak on terrorism has probably obfuscated that immediate impact.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By iyacyas on January 3, 2007
Format: Hardcover
This book shows the story of the rendition of "people." One would think that when the subject of "rendition" or kidnapping by government would only concern Taliban or Iraqi insurgents or international terrorists. In many cases it does. In most cases however, it contains stories of people who were just living their lives normally like any other citizen. Some of them were and are innocent American citizens. Guilty of being Arabic or Muslim. I am a Christian, but fear that if the administration in power doesn't agree with my political ideals whether it be democrat or republican, they could render me. It really makes you think.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By zz top on March 1, 2010
Format: Hardcover
This book is dated already but it is a well written resource.
The author had become skilled at tracking flights.
Private front companies like the famous Air America that operated out of southeast Asia during the Vietnam war but it has all gotten way more sophisticated.
A whole privet airline network of snatch and grab black bag type of dudes. Efficient money making and very "black".
Some politicians state that waterboarding does not constitute torture.
And that may be true however the agency can fly you someplace no one cares and dip you in a vat of acid.
They can fly a guy any place including places where they want to torture guys for cash.
The dark side of the war on terror. If you think the War on Terror is real and necessary then this is a brilliant capitalists secret response to jihad. Neat and tidy and we do not see anything bad.
Apparently they sometimes pick up the wrong guy on the torture taxi.
Use of front companies and even if I remember right the Boston Red Sox's plane to aid in torture is all recounted in this book.
According to wikipida "Within days of his inauguration, President Obama signed an Executive Order opposing rendition torture and establishing a task force to provide recommendations about processes to prevent rendition torture."

FYI it is 3/1/2010 as of the writing of this review Obama administration appears to have determined that the rendition program is still needed.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Keith A. Comess VINE VOICE on April 27, 2008
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Paglen and Thompson have written an excellent exposition of the "extraordinary rendition" program currently extant in the US. While there are many other articles and books that deal with this new and perverse twist in American Executive Branch authority, this one is unique in it's detailed exposition of the grassroots international network of "plane spotters". These dedicated amateurs initially identified the involved aircraft (the "torture taxis") and their efforts ultimately lead to the public exposure of the program.

A brief historical note places the program in context: it was begun during the Reagan Administration, continued and amplified under Clinton and reached it's zenith during the current Bush Administration. All evidence, the authors assert, suggests it is permanently with us. The litany of terrorist actions that lead to it's creation is briefly summarized.

The argument of the book is as follows: The Executive Branch, under whose aegis this program falls, does not trouble to deny the existance of the program. Rather, it asserts that it's war making authority encompasses "necessary defensive measures" such as this one; these claims are simply preposterous infringements on the accepted legal standard. The mendacious justifications offered by John Yoo and his colleagues at the US Justice Department for this gross and self-evident breach of human rights and de facto abrogation of a plethora of applicable treaties renders the position of the US vis-a-vis our Western Allies and our role as a "model" for the "benighted" Second (former USSR) and Third World risible.
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