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Google Earth fingers CIA rendition flights?

Strange goings on at Scottish airport

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Here's a absolute beauty for those of you who like the skies above Google Earth filled with black helicopters: what exactly was going on at Glasgow Prestwick airport the day the Google sat passed over?:

Three C-5 Galaxies seen at Prestwick

What we've got here is three USAF C-5 Galaxies sitting on an otherwise virtually deserted airport. Thoughfully, the local bus company has in one case nipped out to pick up passengers, as can be seen.

All of this caused a small flurry of emails from readers because the Scottish National party yesterday published a dossier in which it claims that so-called "rendition flights" had passed through Prestwick airport.

Specifically, the document "lists in detail the planes, dates on which they landed and 10 firms which allegedly operated on behalf of the CIA", as summarised thus:

Among the planes was a Gulfstream jet (Registration number N379P/N8068V) nicknamed the "Guantanamo Bay Express" and was reportedly used to transport suspects to the US prison on Cuba. That plane is listed in the report as having landed five times at Glasgow and Prestwick airports between 2002 and the end of 2004.

The report also lists details about a DC 9 airliner (Registration number N822US) which has been the subject of diplomatic inquiries by the Norwegian government and debate in the Canadian Parliament. The plane is listed in the report as having landed at both Glasgow and Prestwick airports in 2002 and 2003.

Naturally, the SNP is not very happy about any of this. Spokesman Angus Robertson MP said: "There is disquiet across Europe about this whole issue. This report gives worrying details about alleged rendition flights through Scotland. The planes in question have been subject to diplomatic and parliamentary inquiries in different countries. This report establishes that they did pass through Scottish airports."

So, has Google Earth given the SNP the ammunition it needs to go after the spooks? Sadly not. The aircraft in question are, our investigations suggest, carrying President Bush's personal fleet of limos and other assorted kit that the average US prez needs when attending a G8 summit. The images, therefore, were taken in July 2005 - the summit taking place on 6-8 of that month.

You can find more info about the quite astounding lengths the US went to in order to prevent Mr Bush getting a cap popped in his ass in a pre-G8 Scotsman piece. As the paper notes: "Prestwick has been chosen as the main arrival airport for the world leaders because it is more difficult for protesters to get to than Edinburgh or Glasgow."

So there you have it. The huge security operation did not, however, stop crack teams of planespotters getting to Prestwick. Have a look here for a nice pic of one of Bush's limo delivery vehicles. ®

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