1. Welcome to CowboysZone!  Join us!  Come on!  You know you want to!

C.I.A. Sought Blackwater’s Help to Kill Jihadists

Discussion in 'Political Zone' started by SuspectCorner, Aug 21, 2009.

  1. SuspectCorner

    SuspectCorner Bromo

    7,730 Messages
    108 Likes Received
    C.I.A. Sought Blackwater’s Help to Kill Jihadists

    By MARK MAZZETTI / The new York Times / Published: August 19, 2009

    WASHINGTON — The Central Intelligence Agency in 2004 hired outside contractors from the private security contractor Blackwater USA as part of a secret program to locate and assassinate top operatives of Al Qaeda, according to current and former government officials.

    Executives from Blackwater, which has generated controversy because of its aggressive tactics in Iraq, helped the spy agency with planning, training and surveillance. The C.I.A. spent several million dollars on the program, which did not successfully capture or kill any terrorist suspects.

    The fact that the C.I.A. used an outside company for the program was a major reason that Leon E. Panetta, the C.I.A.’s director, became alarmed and called an emergency meeting in June to tell Congress that the agency had withheld details of the program for seven years, the officials said.

    It is unclear whether the C.I.A. had planned to use the contractors to actually capture or kill Qaeda operatives, or just to help with training and surveillance in the program. American spy agencies have in recent years outsourced some highly controversial work, including the interrogation of prisoners. But government officials said that bringing outsiders into a program with lethal authority raised deep concerns about accountability in covert operations.

    Officials said the C.I.A. did not have a formal contract with Blackwater for this program but instead had individual agreements with top company officials, including the founder, Erik D. Prince, a politically connected former member of the Navy Seals and the heir to a family fortune. Blackwater’s work on the program actually ended years before Mr. Panetta took over the agency, after senior C.I.A. officials themselves questioned the wisdom of using outsiders in a targeted killing program.

    Blackwater, which has changed its name, most recently to Xe Services, and is based in North Carolina, in recent years has received millions of dollars in government contracts, growing so large that the Bush administration said it was a necessary part of its war operation in Iraq.

    It has also drawn controversy. Blackwater employees hired to guard American diplomats in Iraq were accused of using excessive force on several occasions, including shootings in Baghdad in 2007 in which 17 civilians were killed. Iraqi officials have since refused to give the company an operating license.

    Several current and former government officials interviewed for this article spoke only on the condition of anonymity because they were discussing details of a still classified program.

    Paul Gimigliano, a C.I.A. spokesman, declined to provide details about the canceled program, but he said that Mr. Panetta’s decision on the assassination program was “clear and straightforward.”

    “Director Panetta thought this effort should be briefed to Congress, and he did so,” Mr. Gimigliano said. “He also knew it hadn’t been successful, so he ended it.”

    A Xe spokeswoman did not return calls seeking comment.

    Senator Dianne Feinstein, the California Democrat who leads the Senate Intelligence Committee, also declined to give details of the program. But she praised Mr. Panetta for notifying Congress. “It is too easy to contract out work that you don’t want to accept responsibility for,” she said.

    The C.I.A. this summer conducted an internal review of the assassination program that recently was presented to the White House and the Congressional intelligence committees. The officials said that the review stated that Mr. Panetta’s predecessors did not believe that they needed to tell Congress because the program was not far enough developed.

    The House Intelligence Committee is investigating why lawmakers were never told about the program. According to current and former government officials, former Vice President Dick Cheney told C.I.A. officers in 2002 that the spy agency did not need to inform Congress because the agency already had legal authority to kill Qaeda leaders.

    One official familiar with the matter said that Mr. Panetta did not tell lawmakers that he believed that the C.I.A. had broken the law by withholding details about the program from Congress. Rather, the official said, Mr. Panetta said he believed that the program had moved beyond a planning stage and deserved Congressional scrutiny.

    “It’s wrong to think this counterterrorism program was confined to briefing slides or doodles on a cafeteria napkin,” the official said. “It went well beyond that.”

    Current and former government officials said that the C.I.A.’s efforts to use paramilitary hit teams to kill Qaeda operatives ran into logistical, legal and diplomatic hurdles almost from the outset. These efforts had been run by the C.I.A.’s counterterrorism center, which runs operations against Al Qaeda and other terrorist networks.

    In 2002, Blackwater won a classified contract to provide security for the C.I.A. station in Kabul, Afghanistan, and the company maintains other classified contracts with the C.I.A., current and former officials said.

    Over the years, Blackwater has hired several former top C.I.A. officials, including Cofer Black, who ran the C.I.A. counterterrorism center immediately after the Sept. 11 attacks.

    C.I.A. operatives also regularly use the company’s training complex in North Carolina. The complex includes a shooting range used for sniper training.

    An executive order signed by President Gerald R. Ford in 1976 barred the C.I.A. from carrying out assassinations, a direct response to revelations that the C.I.A. had initiated assassination plots against Fidel Castro of Cuba and other foreign politicians.

    The Bush administration took the position that killing members of Al Qaeda, a terrorist group that attacked the United States and has pledged to attack it again, was no different from killing enemy soldiers in battle, and that therefore the agency was not constrained by the assassination ban.

    But former intelligence officials said that employing private contractors to help hunt Qaeda operatives would pose significant legal and diplomatic risks, and they might not be protected in the same way government employees are.

    Some Congressional Democrats have hinted that the program was just one of many that the Bush administration hid from Congressional scrutiny and have used the episode as a justification to delve deeper into other Bush-era counterterrorism programs.

    But Republicans have criticized Mr. Panetta’s decision to cancel the program, saying he created a tempest in a teapot.

    “I think there was a little more drama and intrigue than was warranted,” said Representative Peter Hoekstra of Michigan, the top Republican on the House Intelligence Committee.

    Officials said that the C.I.A. program was devised partly as an alternative to missile strikes using drone aircraft, which have accidentally killed civilians and cannot be used in urban areas where some terrorists hide.

    Yet with most top Qaeda operatives believed to be hiding in the remote mountains of Pakistan, the drones have remained the C.I.A.’s weapon of choice. Like the Bush administration, the Obama administration has embraced the drone campaign because it presents a less risky option than sending paramilitary teams into Pakistan.
  2. SuspectCorner

    SuspectCorner Bromo

    7,730 Messages
    108 Likes Received
    Blackwater Hit Squads: What Was the CIA Thinking?

    By Robert Baer / Time.com / Thursday, Aug. 20, 2009

    The other shoe has dropped. CIA Director Leon Panetta, it turns out, ran up to Capitol Hill in June not simply to confess that the CIA had a secret assassination program it never implemented but rather to confess that it had subcontracted the job out. As first reported by the New York Times on its website on Aug. 19, the CIA hired Blackwater to help with a secret program to assassinate top al-Qaeda leaders. Although no one was assassinated before the program was ultimately shelved — and the Times reported that it's not clear that Blackwater was engaged to do anything more than assist with planning, training and surveillance — Panetta must have been horrified that the CIA turned to mercenaries to play a part in its dirty work. It's one thing, albeit often misguided, for the agency to outsource certain tasks to contractors. It's quite another to involve a company like Blackwater in even the planning and training of targeted killings, akin to the CIA going to the mafia to draw up a plan to kill Castro.

    I suspect that if the agreements are ever really looked into — rather than a formal contract, the CIA reportedly brokered individual deals with top company brass — we will find out that Blackwater's assassination work was more about bilking the U.S. taxpayer than it was killing Osama bin Laden or other al-Qaeda leaders. More than a few senior CIA officers retired from the CIA and went to work at Blackwater, the controversial private security shop now known as Xe Services. Not only did those officers presumably take their CIA Rolodexes with them out the door, but many probably didn't choose to leave until they had a lucrative new contract lined up. But more to the point, Blackwater stood no better chance of placing operatives in Pakistan's tribal areas, where the al-Qaeda leadership was hiding in 2004, than the CIA or the U.S. military did.

    This leads to the question of what the CIA saw in Blackwater that the public still has not. Even before the company was expelled from Iraq after a Blackwater security detail in 2007 allegedly shot and killed 17 Iraqi civilians, the contractor for unclear reasons had taken over security duties that CIA staff employees used to carry out. Last May in Kabul, four Blackwater contractors reportedly shot and killed two unarmed Afghans; Blackwater whisked the four out of the country before the Afghans could investigate. The State Department has also relied heavily on Blackwater in both Iraq and Afghanistan over the years.

    There may even be a darker side to Blackwater. This month, a former, anonymous Blackwater employee filed a sworn statement in federal court in Virginia claiming that Blackwater's founder, Erik Prince (who is no longer involved with day-to-day operations of the company), was involved in the murder of at least one informant who reported to federal authorities on his company. The allegation, first reported by the Nation magazine, was part of a civil suit filed by several Iraqis for the company's alleged abuses in the country. Blackwater has denied the claims, calling them "anonymous, unsubstantiated and offensive assertions."

    Still, the CIA has maintained its various Blackwater contracts, which run from protecting CIA operatives in the field to loading Hellfire missiles on Predator drones. And none of this is to mention that as soon as CIA money lands in Blackwater's account, it is beyond accounting, as good as gone.

    If the Obama Administration ever hopes to get a handle on the wars in Iraq, Afghanistan or any of the countries around the world where the "war on terrorism" has been fought, it's going to have to figure out what happened to the billions of dollars spent on contracts. So far the Obama White House has been happy to work with the Bush Administration's contracting mess. In Afghanistan today, the company that supervises Blackwater is a British security called Aegis, which is headed by a notorious British mercenary. Afghans are a people that do not take well to mercenaries.

    Even more troubling, I think we will find out that in the unraveling of the Bush years, Blackwater was not the worst of the contractors, some of which did reportedly end up carrying out their assigned hits.

    Baer, a former Middle East CIA field officer, is TIME.com's intelligence columnist and the author of See No Evil and, most recently, The Devil We Know: Dealing with the New Iranian Superpower.
  3. burmafrd

    burmafrd Well-Known Member

    41,800 Messages
    1,671 Likes Received
    yawn. more MSM BS. Since suspect posted it we already know what its about so why bother reading?
  4. zrinkill

    zrinkill Diamond surrounded by trash

    33,043 Messages
    788 Likes Received
    We have always employed bad guys to kill other bad guys.

    Who cares.
  5. BrAinPaiNt

    BrAinPaiNt Bad Santa Staff Member

    61,241 Messages
    4,571 Likes Received
    Yeah...I don't get that aspect of the articles either.

    I can understand being upset about not telling congress. I can understand being upset about killing civilians or the Iraqi Government not letting them operate there any longer.

    But the whole idea of being upset that they would go and kill bad guys? Don't get that one at all.
  6. zrinkill

    zrinkill Diamond surrounded by trash

    33,043 Messages
    788 Likes Received
    Mercenaries have always been a very ugly part of War.

    Many times we lose control of them and they do horrible things.

    But these sort of things happen no matter which "party" is in the White house.
  7. BrAinPaiNt

    BrAinPaiNt Bad Santa Staff Member

    61,241 Messages
    4,571 Likes Received
    Oh yeah, just to clarify I was not laying this on W or anything. I do enough of that for other stuff.:laugh1:
  8. zrinkill

    zrinkill Diamond surrounded by trash

    33,043 Messages
    788 Likes Received
    I know ..... I was just clarifying to the non military personal on this forum who have no clue how these things work.
  9. Doomsday101

    Doomsday101 Well-Known Member

    78,430 Messages
    3,753 Likes Received
    I agree. H Ross Perot employed Mercenaries which is why he was able to get his people out of Iran in the 70's when Jimmy Carter was still trying to figure out where Iran was.
  10. JBond

    JBond Well-Known Member

    6,726 Messages
    36 Likes Received
    Good. How many did they kill? Private industry is always more efficient than the government.
  11. Hostile

    Hostile Tacos are a good investment Zone Supporter

    119,053 Messages
    2,972 Likes Received
    So the Government wanted to use Mercs?

    And this is a problem how? I suppose if you have not read US History it is. I just don't get the issue here. I'd hire Mercs today If I were Obama and he had intel on an Al Qaeda leader.

    Why do we pretend that stuff like this is shocking? Can someone explain that to me?

    Or maybe I don't want to know.
  12. Hostile

    Hostile Tacos are a good investment Zone Supporter

    119,053 Messages
    2,972 Likes Received
    See healthcare as a perfect example.

    :wink2:
  13. JBond

    JBond Well-Known Member

    6,726 Messages
    36 Likes Received
    It is sad and amusing at the same time how quickly people forget our history.
  14. Kangaroo

    Kangaroo Active Member

    9,893 Messages
    0 Likes Received
    No issues here with the use of them. Then again I understand what war and fighting is and it not very pretty. I would not be suprissed if the current administration is using Mercs in Afghanistan I am not even going to bat an eyelash over the use or hiring of them.
  15. daschoo

    daschoo Slanje Va

    2,384 Messages
    159 Likes Received
    not really much of a story then
  16. burmafrd

    burmafrd Well-Known Member

    41,800 Messages
    1,671 Likes Received
    Well its from suspect so we all know his agenda.
  17. daschoo

    daschoo Slanje Va

    2,384 Messages
    159 Likes Received
    just out of interest why when you post a link are you proving something or stating a fact whereas suspect has an agenda?
  18. burmafrd

    burmafrd Well-Known Member

    41,800 Messages
    1,671 Likes Received
    When do I say it is a fact? Come on daschoo show where I state it is a fact? I just said Suspect has a clear agenda- you disagree?
  19. zrinkill

    zrinkill Diamond surrounded by trash

    33,043 Messages
    788 Likes Received
  20. Hostile

    Hostile Tacos are a good investment Zone Supporter

    119,053 Messages
    2,972 Likes Received
    So do you. Do you disagree?

Share This Page