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Every time the Gulfstream and other planes in Richmor’s fleet took to the air, they carried one-page transit documents on State Department letterhead. The notices, known as “letters of public convenience,” were addressed “to whom it may concern,” stating that the jets should be treated as official flights and that “accompanying personnel are under contract with the U.S. government.”

In trial testimony, Mr. Moss said the documents were provided from the government to DynCorp, which furnished them to Richmor. Mr. Richards said the letters were given to flight crews before they left on each flight, but he declined to explain their use.

The notes, signed by a State Department administrative assistant, Terry A. Hogan, described the planes’ travels as “global support for U.S. embassies worldwide.”

The AP could not locate Terry Hogan. No official with that name is currently listed in State’s department-wide directory. A comprehensive 2004 State Department telephone directory contains no reference to Terry Hogan, or variations of that name — despite records of four separate transit letters signed by Terry A. Hogan in January, March and April 2004. Several of the signatures on the diplomatic letters under Terry Hogan’s name were noticeably different.

A State Department spokesman said the department has a policy of not commenting on “alleged intelligence activities.”

In some cases, the notes added that the jets were not restricted by standard federal flight rules governing aircraft for hire. Although such exemptions are vague in practice, said Gregory Winton, a former Federal Aviation Administration lawyer, they might allow pilots to avoid normal FAA restrictions on the number of duty hours they could fly — helpful on the long international missions such as those flown by the Gulfstreams.

In some circumstances, Mr. Winton added, such diplomatic cover letters might also be used to allow pilots to deviate from their flight plans and to win cooperation from foreign authorities after an international landing. Human rights groups and foreign critics have contended that some rendition flights obscured their real destinations when they dropped off detainees at airfields near the black sites.

“When you go overseas and show up in somebody’s backyard in your private plane working for the U.S. government, that’s a diplomacy issue, not a flight issue,” Mr. Winton said.

The court files break down costs incurred for on-flight computers and phones, landing fees and even money spent for meals. A $440 catering bill from Ohio-based Air Chef for an October 2003 flight from Washington to Guantanamo showed the Gulfstream was well stocked as it headed south. It carried fruit platters, assorted muffins and bagels, deli sandwiches, potato chips, cookies and two $39 bottles of wine.

Sav Momgelli, Air Chef’s vice president for sales, said the company had no idea it had been providing meals for secret government flights.

“We don’t ask questions,” he said. “We’re never told, and we never ask. It could be a VIP, but to us it doesn’t matter. It’s just another customer.”

Associated Press writers Adam Goldman and Barry Schweid in Washington and Michael Hill in Albany, N.Y., contributed to this report.