N.C. Lawmakers Want State Probe of Alleged CIA Flights of Terror Suspects

Nearly two dozen state lawmakers are urging the state attorney general to investigate whether a North Carolina company provided planes to the CIA to shuttle terrorism suspects to countries where they may have been tortured.

The U.S. government has said little about the practice of "extraordinary rendition" -- believed to be a secret CIA program of apprehending foreign terror suspects and sending them to third countries, including those that practice torture, for interrogation without court approval.

The 22 lawmakers who signed a letter sent to Attorney General Roy Cooper and the State Bureau of Investigation urge an investigation into "credible allegations that Aero Contractors conspired to commit federal crimes," according to a copy of the letter provided by advocacy group Stop Torture Now.

A spokeswoman for Cooper did not immediately return a call Friday seeking comment.

Aero Contractors has denied the allegations, which were reported last year by CBS' "60 Minutes" and The New York Times. The company, which provides planes and pilots for charter flights, has leased facilities from the Johnston County Airport since 1979.

In October, State Bureau of Investigation Director Robin Pendergraft declined a similar request from 12 lawmakers, saying the matter didn't fall under SBI jurisdiction, according to the advocacy group.

"In short, we are deeply concerned by the SBI's unwillingness to investigate a North Carolina company's alleged involvement in a conspiracy to support the kidnap and torture of individuals," the lawmakers wrote. "We hope you will direct the SBI to begin an investigation of Aero Contractors' actions."

Fourteen protesters affiliated with Stop Torture Now were arrested there in November 2005, and convicted of trespassing.