WASHINGTON CIA Director Michael Hayden acknowledged Thursday that two rendition flights carrying terror suspects refueled on British territory, despite earlier U.S. claims that no such flights had used British airspace or soil since the Sept. 11 attacks.
Hayden told agency employees that information previously provided to the British "turned out to be wrong."
The spy agency reviewed rendition records late last year and discovered that in 2002 the CIA had in fact refueled two separate planes carrying two terror suspects on Diego Garcia, a British island territory in the Indian Ocean.
"The refueling, conducted more than five years ago, lasted just a short time. But it happened. That we found this mistake ourselves, and that we brought it to the attention of the British government, in no way changes or excuses the reality that we were in the wrong. An important part of intelligence work, inherently urgent, complex, and uncertain, is to take responsibility for errors and to learn from them," Hayden stated in the message obtained by The Associated Press.
Hayden said neither man was tortured and denied there has ever been a holding facility for CIA prisoners on Diego Garcia.
One of the prisoners is now jailed at Guantanamo Bay Naval Base and the other was released to his home country, where he has since been freed by that government, according to a U.S. intelligence official who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the matter.
Neither man was part of the CIA's interrogation and detention program, according to the official. In this case, the CIA only moved them from one country to another.