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Wednesday, February 22, 2006 

Jack Straw continues to lie through his teeth over rendition.

The foreign secretary, Jack Straw, today again denied the government had any knowledge of CIA "extraordinary rendition" flights, after it was revealed last night that the suspected planes involved had flown through UK airspace around 200 times in the past five years.

The row over possible British government collusion in the controversial US practice re-erupted last night after Channel Four news revealed new figures from the National Air Traffic Service relating to the aircraft thought to be involved.

Questioned about the figures today, Mr Straw insisted Britain had no knowledge of any such flights. And he said he had no reason to believe they were taking place without the government's knowledge.

Speaking at the Foreign Office, Mr Straw said: "We know of no occasion where there has been a rendition through UK territory, or indeed over UK territory, nor do we have any reason to believe that such flights have taken place without our knowledge."

Really Jack? Have we already forgotten about the leaked memo to the New Statesman?

How can a government minister continue to deny that any flights have gone through British territory when there have now been investigations by the Guardian, Scottish National Party, Channel 4 News and the EU which have all shown that both CIA-chartered jets and planes with numbers known to be involved in rendition have flown through UK airspace?

Then of course there's the standard response that ministers and government departments give to those who wish to find out unhelpful information that such information can only be provided at "disproportionate cost".

Now the Liberal Democrats are pressing for the parliamentary watchdog, the parliamentary ombudsman, to force government ministers to give more details about the flights.

That threat comes after the acting Lib Dem leader, Sir Menzies Campbell, was told that a written question to the armed forces minister, Adam Ingram, requesting to know how many times planes had used UK military bases en route to or from countries suspected of using torture had been rejected, because "the information is not recorded centrally and could be provided only at a disproportionate cost".

In other words, the military, air traffic control and the security services know full well that rendition flights have used UK airspace and most likely have refueled here, whether the government was aware at the time or not It certainly is now, and has been for a long time, which makes Straw's denials completely disingenuous. What now needs to be revealed is whether the security services are complicit in rendition, or if they are not, why they don't seemingly know about what was happening. The latter seems highly unlikely, as the most of the western intelligence agencies are now pooling their information. Whatever the case is, Jack Straw has continously lied, as has Tony Blair. If any further proof was needed that both should resign immediately, then we now have it.

You can see previous posts on rendition on Obsolete here.

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