Tag Archives | Blackwater

Blackwater’s Back-Channel Deals With U.S. Government

blackwater-logoIn one of the better pieces of investigative reporting seen in the New York Times of late, James Risen and Mark Mazzetti reveal the continuing close relationship between the U.S. Government and the disgraced mercenary group Blackwater (now re-named Xe, but they’re not fooling anyone):

Blackwater Worldwide created a web of more than 30 shell companies or subsidiaries in part to obtain millions of dollars in American government contracts after the security company came under intense criticism for reckless conduct in Iraq, according to Congressional investigators and former Blackwater officials.

While it is not clear how many of those businesses won contracts, at least three had deals with the United States military or the Central Intelligence Agency, according to former government and company officials. Since 2001, the intelligence agency has awarded up to $600 million in classified contracts to Blackwater and its affiliates, according to a United States government official.

The Senate Armed Services Committee this week released a chart that identified 31 affiliates of Blackwater, now known as Xe Services.

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Blackwater’s Erik Prince Speaks

Erik PrinceA leaked recording of secretive Blackwater founder Erik Prince giving a private talk reveals that if it’s up to him, the company’s role in 21st-century history is just beginning. Prince wants to have Blackwater (now Xe) mercenaries embedded in Islamic countries around the globe and leading the war on drugs. The Nation reports:

Despite Prince’s attempts to shield his speeches from public scrutiny, The Nation magazine has obtained an audio recording of a recent, private speech delivered by Prince to a friendly audience. The speech, which Prince attempted to keep from public consumption, provides a stunning glimpse into his views and future plans and reveals details of previously undisclosed activities of Blackwater.

In the speech, Prince proposed that the US government deploy armed private contractors to fight “terrorists” in Nigeria, Yemen, Somalia and Saudi Arabia, specifically to target Iranian influence. He expressed disdain for the Geneva Convention and described Blackwater’s secretive operations at four Forward Operating Bases he controls in Afghanistan.

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Cartman of ‘South Park’ Signs for 500 AK-47s, Like Just Like Blackwater Did…

Art imitating life? Not quite ... Spencer Ackerman reports on the Washington Independent:
On Feb. 23, I broke a story about how the Senate Armed Services Committee determined that Blackwater employees in Afghanistan signed for hundreds of AK-47s and pistols using the name “Eric Cartman,” evidently a reference to the popular South Park character. On March 17 — which Dave Weigel tells me is the season premiere — South Park will show Eric Cartman signing for the guns.
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Blackwater (Xe) Charged U.S. Taxpayers for Prostitutes

blackwater-logo The list of offenses goes on.... via NY Times
Two former employees of Blackwater Worldwide have accused the private security company of defrauding the government for years by filing bogus receipts, double billing for the same services and charging government agencies for strippers and prostitutes, according to court documents unsealed this week. In a December 2008 lawsuit, the former employees said top Blackwater officials had engaged in a pattern of deception as they carried out government contracts in Iraq and Afghanistan, and in Louisiana in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. Blackwater has earned billions of dollars from government agencies in the years since the Sept. 11 attacks, when the company won contracts to protect American diplomats in Iraq and Afghanistan. The former employees who filed the lawsuit, a married couple named Brad and Melan Davis, said there was little financial oversight of the money. Ms. Davis also asserts that a Filipino prostitute in Afghanistan was put on the Blackwater payroll under the “Morale Welfare Recreation” category, and that the company had billed the prostitute’s plane tickets and monthly salary to the government.
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Biden: U.S. to Appeal Dismissal of Blackwater Case

From The Washington Times:

The U.S. will appeal a court decision dismissing manslaughter charges against five Blackwater Worldwide guards involved in a deadly 2007 Baghdad shooting, U.S. Vice President Joe Biden said Saturday.Biden’s announcement after a meeting with Iraqi President Jalal Talabani shows just how diplomatically sensitive the incident remains nearly three years later. A lawyer for one guard, noting that word of the intended appeal came in Iraq, accused the Obama administration of political expediency and the U.S. was pursuing an innocent man, rather than justice.

Blackwater security contractors were guarding U.S. diplomats when the guards opened fire in Nisoor Square, a crowded Baghdad intersection, on Sept. 16, 2007. Seventeen people were killed, including women and children, in a shooting that inflamed anti-American sentiment in Iraq.

Biden expressed his “personal regret” for the shooting and said the Obama administration was disappointed by the dismissal. “A dismissal is not an acquittal,” he said.

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Blackwater/Xe Mercenaries Arrive In Somalia

Xe logoFrom BlackListedNews.com:

At least 18 people have been killed in clashes between rival factions in southern and central Somalia, and there are reports that Blackwater/Xe mercenaries have entered the country.

A battle broke out between the pro-government Ahlu Sunnah militia and Hizbul Islam fighters in the town of Baladwayne on Sunday and went well into Monday, during which at least 13 people lost their lives, witnesses said.

In addition, five people were killed when Hizbul Islam fighters engaged Al-Shabab fighters in the town of Dhobley near the Kenyan border, Reuters reported.

There are also allegations of US-sponsored bomb plots in the capital.

The bombings will be carried out in order to create a pretext to launch a campaign against Al-Shabab, a spokesman of the group, Sheikh Ali Mohammed Rage, told Reuters.

“We have discovered that US agencies are going to launch suicide bombings in public places in Mogadishu,” he told reporters.

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Blackwater and the Khost Bombing: Is the CIA Deceiving Congress?

From The Nation:

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?”

In December, the CIA announced that the agency had canceled its contract with Blackwater to work on the agency’s drone bombing campaign in Afghanistan and Pakistan and said Director Leon Panetta ordered a review of all existing CIA contracts with Blackwater.

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CIA Reportedly Ordered Blackwater to Murder 9/11 Suspect

Diana Sweet writes on RAW Story:

In 2004, the CIA sent a team from the private security firm Blackwater, now Xe, to Hamburg to kill an alleged al Qaeda financier who was investigated for years by German authorities on suspicion of links to al Qaeda, according to a little-highlighted element in a Vanity Fair article to be published this month.

The report cited a source familiar with the program as saying the mission had been kept secret from the German government.

“Among the team’s targets, according to a source familiar with the program, was Mamoun Darkazanli, an al Qaeda financier living in Hamburg who had been on the agency’s radar for years because of his ties to three of the 9/11 hijackers and to operatives convicted of the 1998 bombings of U.S. embassies in East Africa,” writes Vanity Fair‘s Adam Ciralsky.

“The CIA team supposedly went in ‘dark,” meaning they did not notify their own station — much less the German government RAW Story: of their presence; they then followed Darkazanli for weeks and worked through the logistics of how and where they would take him down,” reports the magazine.

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Blackwater Employees Cleared Of Murder Charges

Once again, the year comes to a close with good news for the Blackwater corporation. From the New York Times:

Iraqis on Friday reacted with disbelief, anger and bitter resignation to news that criminal charges in the United States had been dismissed against Blackwater Worldwide security guards who opened fire on unarmed Iraqi civilians in 2007.

The attack left 17 Iraqis dead and 27 wounded. Investigators concluded that the guards had indiscriminately fired on unarmed civilians in an unprovoked and unjustified assault.

Many Iraqis viewed the prosecution of the guards as a test case of American democratic principles…On Thursday, Judge Ricardo M. Urbina threw out manslaughter and weapons charges against five Blackwater guards because he said prosecutors had violated the men’s rights by building the case based on sworn statements that had been given by the guards under the promise of immunity.

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Blackwater Tied to Secret CIA Raids

BlackwaterCIAThis goes well beyond the “auxiliary service” function documented in Robert Greenwald’s Iraq For Sale. JAMES RISEN and MARK MAZZETTI report in the New York Times:

WASHINGTON — Private security guards from Blackwater Worldwide participated in some of the C.I.A.’s most sensitive activities — clandestine raids with agency officers against people suspected of being insurgents in Iraq and Afghanistan and the transporting of detainees, according to former company employees and intelligence officials.

The raids against suspects occurred on an almost nightly basis during the height of the Iraqi insurgency from 2004 to 2006, with Blackwater personnel playing central roles in what company insiders called “snatch and grab” operations, the former employees and current and former intelligence officers said.

Several former Blackwater guards said that their involvement in the operations became so routine that the lines supposedly dividing the Central Intelligence Agency, the military and Blackwater became blurred. Instead of simply providing security for C.I.A.

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