Tenn. Office Linked to CIA Renditions


By WOODY BAIRD, Associated Press Writer Wed Nov 23,12:42 PM ET

MEMPHIS, Tenn. - The law office of Douglas R. Beaty sits in a small business park near the city's more prosperous suburbs. Nothing on the front door says anything about the CIA or airplanes.

But Beaty's law office figures in an investigation into whether the CIA is secretly flying terrorism suspects to third countries for questioning and perhaps torture.

Spanish investigators say at least two planes that may have been used for such flights and made stopovers on the island of Mallorca were operated by Stevens Express Leasing Inc.

Tennessee state records show that Stevens Express Leasing has the same business address as Beaty's law office. And Beaty is listed as a registered agent and assistant secretary for Stevens Express Leasing.

In a recent report on the CIA's use of "extraordinary rendition," as the practice of moving suspects to third countries is called, The New York Times identified Stevens Express Leasing as one of several companies believed to be fronts for the agency's air operations.

Last week, Beaty refused to talk about the company or his duties with it when questioned by The Associated Press.

It is not uncommon to see Beaty's name on records kept by the Tennessee secretary of state's office. He is listed as a registered agent for more than 90 companies and has carried similar titles for more than 100 others that the state no longer considers active. More than 100 companies have shared his office address.

"All I do is real estate," Beaty said when asked about his law practice.

He was also the incorporator and president of a small company, Tenn-Ford Inc., that figured in a Tennessee political scandal. Beaty and former Rep. Harold Ford (news, bio, voting record) Sr., a Memphis Democrat, were indicted on federal bank fraud charges in 1987 and acquitted in 1993 after two trials. The government argued unsuccessfully that Tenn-Ford was a shell company created to funnel payoffs to Ford from Tennessee bankers Jake and C.H. Butcher Jr.

There are no signs for Stevens Express Leasing in the business park, a cluster of unattached one-story buildings that also house a doctor's office, a dentist, several real estate agents and Miss Pat's School of Dance and Gymnastics.

The Federal Aviation Administration lists Stevens Express Leasing as the owner of four airplanes — three Beechcrafts and a DC-3.

A report prepared for Spain's Interior Ministry in April, parts of which were obtained by the AP, said two planes that made stops in Mallorca were operated by Stevens Express Leasing.

Italy and Germany also are looking into the CIA's handling of suspected terrorists within their borders.