Subjects: US news
Last month, it was disclosed that the CIA once hired Blackwater USA, the private security contractor, to carry out an assassination program targeting suspected top members of al-Qaeda.
The ensuing debate about whether such activities ought to be outsourced has been on a low-boil ever since.
The ruckus has been exacerbated by Blackwater’s thug-like reputation which it earned after its employees got into the habit of shaking down Iraqi civilians not to mention allegedly slaying 17 of them in Baghdad back in 2007.
The Justice Department indicted 5 Blackwater guards last year in connection with that incident.
Some lawmakers don’t like the idea of outsourcing intelligence operations from government employees.
Diane Feinstein, who chairs the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, recently told the Washington Post for example, that she has “believed for a long time that the intelligence community is over-reliant on contractors to carry out its work.”
That may be, but there is no legal prohibition against doing so.
“Actual intelligence analysis, actual intelligence collection are permissible activities for contractors under current OMB guidance,” former CIA director Michael Hayden told the Post.
“The CIA views contractors as essential to the accomplishment of its mission, bringing unique skills that the agency may need only for limited periods of time,” CIA spokesman Paul Gimigliano said in a statement.
In case you’re looking for them in the Yellow Pages by the way, Blackwater recently renamed itself Xe Services. Its founder, Erik Prince, financially backs Republican political candidates and causes.
After the US invaded Iraq in 2003, Prince’s company secured several contracts to protect US personnel, including a $21 million no-bid contract to protect Paul Bremer, who headed the US led Coalition Provisional Authority at the time.
Next year, Blackwater won a $1 billion, 5-year State Department contract to guard US diplomats and dignitaries worldwide.