This is an updated version of the 1970s classic non-fiction work Air America – The Explosive True Story Of The CIA’s Secret Airline.
Author Christopher Robbins made a lot of enemies when he exposed what was one of the largest airline fleets in the world after being secretly created in WWII.
So secret that when one CIA commander asked for a detailed list of how many planes, what models and where they were spread around the world in the early 1970s, nobody could give him a definitive answer.
Air America flew secret missions around the world, and its operations were in many cases illegal and violated other nation’s sovereignty.
It was even said to have involved in the opium trade in Laos during the Vietnam war, where it flew thousands of secret and often illegal missions, its pilots renowned as hard drinking and partying cowboys.
While Robbins earned the ire of the CIA hierarchy, he now writes that he also received of respect and became good friends with some officials who hated him by reputation – and his book – alone before meeting him.
It’s an amazing insight into the world of spooks and spies, and like the best stories, this one is true.
Since the Iraq and Afghanistan wars began a decade ago there has been renewed interest by journalists in what has been described as the “New Air America”.
It has been proven the CIA illegally detained – or more to the point, kidnapped - terrorists and terrorist suspects and flew them to countries where interrogation methods banned in the US and West were not.
This program is called Extraordinary Rendition by the CIA, and Robbins claims there have been more than 3000 such abductions carried out in the last decade.
They were taken to these so-called Black Sites by the CIA.
So this old book – in its updated form – is as relevant today as it was when first released 30 years ago.
Air America – The Explosive True Story Of The CIA’s Secret Airline. Published by Monument Books, $14.