Posts Tagged ‘Blackwater’

Obama Administration Keeping Blackwater Armed and Dangerous in Afghanistan

June 20, 2010

by Jeremy Scahill, The Nation, June 20, 2010

Blackwater is up for sale and its shadowy owner, Erik Prince, is rumored to be planning to move to the United Arab Emirates as his top deputies face indictment for a range of alleged crimes, yet the company remains a central part of President Obama’s Afghanistan war. Now, Blackwater’s role is expanding.

On Friday, the US State Department awarded Blackwater another “diplomatic security” contract to protect US officials in Afghanistan. CBS News reports that the $120 million deal is for “protective services” at the US consulates in Herat and Mazar-e-Sharif. Blackwater has another security contract in Afghanistan worth $200 million and trains Afghan forces. The company also works for the CIA and the US military and provides bodyguards for US Ambassador Karl Eikenberry as well as US lawmakers and other officials who visit the country. The company has four forward operating bases in Afghanistan and Prince has boasted that Blackwater’s counter-narcotics forces have called in NATO airstrikes.

The new security contract was awarded to one of Blackwater’s alter egos, the United States Training Center, despite the indictments of five senior company officials on bribery, weapons and conspiracy charges. Its operatives in both Afghanistan and Iraq have been indicted for killing innocent civilians. The Senate Armed Services Committee has called on the Justice Department to investigate Blackwater’s use of a shell company, Paravant, to win training contracts in Afghanistan. Despite these and numerous other scandals, the State Department once again awarded the company a lucrative contract.

“Under federal acquisition regulations, the prosecution of the specific Blackwater individuals does not preclude the company or its successive companies and subsidiaries from bidding on contracts,” a State Department spokesperson told CBS. “On the basis of full and open competition, the department performed a full technical evaluation of all proposals and determined the US Training Center has the best ability and qualifications to meet the contract requirements.”

Representative Jan Schakowsky, who chairs the Intelligence Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations, immediately blasted the State Department’s awarding of the contract to Blackwater. “This is a company whose cowboy-like behavior has not only resulted in civilian deaths; it has also jeopardized our mission and the safety of U.S. troops and diplomatic personnel worldwide.  Instead of punishing Blackwater for its extensive history of serious abuses the State Department is rewarding the company with up to $120 million in taxpayer funds,” Schakowsky said. “I strongly believe that the former Blackwater should not be receiving further U.S. contracts, and I have repeatedly urged the U.S. government to no longer do business with this company. Though the name Blackwater has become synonymous with the worst of contractor abuses, the bigger problem is our dangerous reliance on such companies for the business of waging war.”

Earlier this year, Schakowsky and Senator Bernie Sanders reintroduced the Stop Outsourcing Security Act, which would phase out the use of private security contractors by the government. Ironically, Hillary Clinton was a co-sponsor of the legislation when she was a senator and running for president. Now, as Secretary of State, she is the US official in charge of most Blackwater contracts. Blackwater is also bidding on a contract potentially worth up to $1 billion to train the Afghan National Police.

© 2010 The Nation
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Blackwater and the Khost Bombing: Is the CIA Deceiving Congress?

January 7, 2010

Jeremy Scahill, The Nation, January 6, 2009

A leading member of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence has told The Nation that she will launch an investigation into why two Blackwater contractors were among the dead in the December 30 suicide bombing at the CIA station at Forward Operating Base Chapman in Khost, Afghanistan. “The Intelligence Committees and the public were led to believe that the CIA was phasing out its contracts with Blackwater and now we find out that there is this ongoing presence,” said Illinois Democrat Jan Schakowsky, chair of the Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations, in an interview. “Is the CIA once again deceiving us about the relationship with Blackwater?”

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Blackwater ‘became an extension’ of the CIA: report

December 11, 2009
By Raw Story,  Thursday, December 10th, 2009

blackwaterwelcomesign Blackwater became an extension of the CIA: reportThe role of Blackwater employees in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars was so central to the US’s efforts that the lines between the controversial security contractor, the CIA and the military were effectively “blurred,” says a report in the New York Times.

During the height of the Iraqi insurgency from 2004 to 2006, Blackwater guards participated almost nightly in “snatch and grab” raids on suspected militants, the Times reported in a story published late Thursday.

The company’s cooperation in top-secret CIA operations “illuminate[s] a far deeper relationship between the spy agency and the private security company than government officials have previously acknowledged,” the Times reports.

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The Secret US War In Pakistan

December 7, 2009

By Jeremy ScahillZNet, Dec 7, 2009
Source: The Nation
Jeremy Scahill’s ZSpace Page

At a covert forward operating base run by the US Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) in the Pakistani port city of Karachi, members of an elite division of Blackwater are at the center of a secret program in which they plan targeted assassinations of suspected Taliban and Al Qaeda operatives, “snatch and grabs” of high-value targets and other sensitive action inside and outside Pakistan, an investigation by The Nation has found. The Blackwater operatives also assist in gathering intelligence and help direct a secret US military drone bombing campaign that runs parallel to the well-documented CIA predator strikes, according to a well-placed source within the US military intelligence apparatus.

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Blackwater Founder Tells of Extensive Government-Contracted Assassinations

December 5, 2009

Yana Kunichoff, Truthout, Dec 4, 2009

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The head of Blackwater revealed the details of his collaboration with the CIA to locate and assassinate top al Qaeda operatives as part of a covert antiterror operation Tuesday, and blamed Democrats for the leak that ended the program.

In an article published in Vanity Fair, Erik Prince, the founder of Blackwater, spoke about the extent of his involvement with the CIA, which ranged from putting together, funding and executing operations to bring personnel into “denied areas” to targeting specific people for assassination who were deemed enemies by the US government.

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Blackwater’s Secret War in Pakistan

November 24, 2009

Jeremy Scahill, The Nation, Nov 23, 2009

At a covert forward operating base run by the US Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) in the Pakistani port city of Karachi, members of an elite division of Blackwater are at the center of a secret program in which they plan targeted assassinations of suspected Taliban and Al Qaeda operatives, “snatch and grabs” of high-value targets and other sensitive action inside and outside Pakistan, an investigation by The Nation has found. The Blackwater operatives also assist in gathering intelligence and help run a secret US military drone bombing campaign that runs parallel to the well-documented CIA predator strikes, according to a well-placed source within the US military intelligence apparatus.

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Where is the Defund Blackwater Act?

September 25, 2009

Democrats joined Republicans in voting to “Defund ACORN,” yet have done nothing to stop Blackwater’s ongoing taxpayer funded crusade in Iraq and Afghanistan.

By Jeremy Scahill, RebelReports, Sep 24, 2009

Republican Congressional leaders are continuing their witch-hunt against ACORN, the grassroots community group dedicated to helping poor and working class people. This campaign now unfortunately has gained bi-partisan legislative support in the form of the Defund ACORN Act of 2009 which has now passed the House and Senate. As Ryan Grim at Huffington Post has pointed out, the legislation “could plausibly defund the entire military-industrial complex:”

The congressional legislation intended to defund ACORN, passed with broad bipartisan support, is written so broadly that it applies to “any organization” that has been charged with breaking federal or state election laws, lobbying disclosure laws, campaign finance laws or filing fraudulent paperwork with any federal or state agency. It also applies to any of the employees, contractors or other folks affiliated with a group charged with any of those things.

According to the Project on Oversight and Government Reform, this legislation could potentially eliminate a virtual Who’s Who of war contractors including Lockheed Martin, Boeing and KBR to other corporations such as AT&T, FedEx and Dell.

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Another Lawsuit Targets Founder of Blackwater

September 17, 2009

by Bill Sizemore, The Virgin-Pilot, Sep 16, 2009

Yet another civil lawsuit accuses Blackwater guards of driving through the streets of Baghdad randomly shooting innocent Iraqis.

[Grilled by the politicans ... Erik Prince, chairman of the Prince Group, LLC and Blackwater USA, testifies during a House Oversight and Government Reform Committee hearing on Capitol Hill. (Photo: AFP)]Grilled by the politicans … Erik Prince, chairman of the Prince Group, LLC and Blackwater USA, testifies during a House Oversight and Government Reform Committee hearing on Capitol Hill. (Photo: AFP)

The latest case accuses Blackwater founder Erik Prince of personally directing murders from a 24-hour remote monitoring “war room” at the private military company’s Moyock, N.C., headquarters.

Prince “personally directed and permitted a heavily-armed private army… to roam the streets of Baghdad killing innocent civilians,” alleges the suit, filed by four Iraqi citizens.

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State Department Asks Embattled Blackwater to Continue in Iraq

September 3, 2009

Replacement ‘Not Ready to Take Over’ for Banned Group

by Jason Ditz, Antiwar.com, September 02, 2009

The US State Department has announced today that it has asked Blackwater, which was banned by the Iraqi government earlier this year, to continue its operations in Iraq because the contractors for its replacement Dyncorp weren’t ready to take over.

Blackwater contractors were implicated in charges of “improper conduct” related to their 2007 massacre of 17 civilians in Baghdad, leading to considerable outrage over their continued presence by the Iraqi government, which was finally able to ban them outright in January.

Despite the ban, the group has been operating without a license in Iraq on behalf of the State Department since then, though the Iraqi government has been impatient with the delay, it has ruled out a long term presence amid reports that the State Department had made arrangements for a replacement.

But now that replacement says that equipment shortages are keeping it from being able to do the job, leaving the infamous group, which has since changed its name to Xe in an attempt to rebrand itself as something other than a band of brutal mercenaries who play fast and loose with the rules of engagement, filling the role for an unknown period of time. It seems even a formal ban couldn’t get rid of the organization.

Americans: Serfs Ruled by Oligarchs

August 20, 2009

By Paul Craig Roberts | Counterpunch, Aug 19, 2009

“In a little time [there will be] no middling sort.  We shall have a few, and but a very few Lords, and all the rest beggars.”  R.L. Bushman

“Rapidly you are dividing into two classes–extreme rich and extreme poor.”    “Brutus”

Americans think that they have “freedom and democracy” and that politicians are held accountable by elections.  The fact of the matter is that the US is ruled by powerful interest groups who control politicians with campaign contributions.  Our real rulers are an oligarchy of financial and military/security interests and AIPAC, which influences US foreign policy for the benefit of Israel.

Have a look at economic policy.  It is being run for the benefit of large financial concerns, such as Goldman Sachs.

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