Posts Tagged ‘US State Department’

State Department Asks Embattled Blackwater to Continue in Iraq

September 3, 2009

Replacement ‘Not Ready to Take Over’ for Banned Group

by Jason Ditz,, 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.

Blackwater Still Armed in Iraq

August 15, 2009

Jeremy Scahill, The Nation, August 14, 2009

Despite the Iraqi government’s announcement earlier this year that it had canceled Blackwater’s operating license, the US State Department continues to allow Blackwater operatives in Iraq to remain armed. A State Department official told The Nation that Blackwater (which recently renamed itself Xe Services) is now operating in Iraq under the name “US Training Center” and will continue its armed presence in the country until at least September 3. That means Blackwater will have been in Iraq nearly two years after its operatives killed seventeen Iraqi civilians in Baghdad’s Nisour Square.

Continues >>

Is Bin Laden Dead or Alive? US, Pakistan Not Sure

April 28, 2009

“No Trace” of al-Qaeda Leader, State Dept Vows to Keep Looking

by Jason Ditz |, April 27, 2009

Since his March broadcast on al-Jazeera, al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden has seemingly vanished off the face of the earth, with neither US nor Pakistan spy agencies detecting a single trace of him. This has added to the speculation that he may have died.

“The question is whether he is alive or dead,” Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari said, “there is no trace of him.” Zardari also said his advisers feel there is substance to the rumors of bin Laden’s failing health, and that “they obviously feel that he does not exist any more but that’s not confirmed.”

US State Department spokesman Robert Wood likewise admitted that they likewise “have no information that indicates that Osama bin Laden is … frankly dead or alive.” He insisted in the meantime the US would continue to operate under the assumption that he was alive and keep looking for him.

The enigmatic Saudi has been on the FBI’s ten most wanted list for over a decade, and US officials have repeatedly speculated that he is located somewhere along the mountainous border between Pakistan and Afghanistan. At this point though, that seems to be nothing more than a guess.

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