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Four times a week, pilots working for a North Las Vegas private airline charter company quietly fly to Baghdad and Kabul. The company, Vision Airlines, is just another U.S. government contractor doing furtive work in Afghanistan and Iraq. But a lawsuit filed against the company in federal court last week reveals something of the otherwise vast and veiled business. Reading the case against Vision Airlines is like squinting through a keyhole to size up the contents of a hangar.
Vision Air is being sued by employees who say the company withheld millions in government hazard pay they earned for flying into war zones. At its heart, this lawsuit is a payroll dispute. But sealing the case, according to Vision attorney Harold Gewerter, is matter of protecting “confidential and classified information, wholly irrelevant to the ultimate claims of the plaintiff.”
And it’s this kind of flight that has led some to speculate that Vision is involved in a CIA “extraordinary rendition” program — transferring suspected terrorists around the planet for reasons unclear. Critics will tell you it’s to unlawfully detain and torture prisoners in secret detention sites. U.S. government officials will tell you that no such thing happens at all.