CIA Hired Blackwater in Program to Kill al-Qaida Leaders

August 20, 2009

(ChattahBox)—According to the New York Times, citing unidentified current and former government officials, the CIA hired the notorious private security firm, Blackwater for work in a secret program to kill al-Qaida leaders in 2004. Knowledge of the controversial program was withheld from Congress, presumably under direct orders from former Vice President Dick Cheney.

The existence of the secret program was just recently revealed to Congress by current CIA director, Leon Panetta immediately after he learned of it and cancelled the program.

Now with the news that the shady security firm, Blackwater was involved in the secret program to kill al-Qaida operatives, it raises additional questions about the program carried out during the Bush administration.

According to the NY Times piece, Blackwater was hired to provide planning, training and surveillance, but it’s not clear if the firm was also hired to carry out the assassinations. The unnamed sources said that the program was not successful.

“The program never resulted in the capture or killing of any terrorists suspects, according to current and former U.S. intelligence officials. It was never fully operational, and has been canceled twice: once by then-CIA Director George Tenet, restarted by Porter Goss, and finally by CIA Director Leon Panetta in June,” according to the NY Times.

Some CIA officials, including Leon Panetta believed that the inclusion of a private contractor into a program with lethal authority, raised security and accountability concerns. Outside contractors were used to interrogate detainees in secret harsh interrogations programs, which involved torture. Panetta has since banned contractors from conducting interrogations.

The officials told the NY Times that Blackwaters’s involvement in the secret killing program ended well before Panetta began his stint as CIA Director.

When Panetta learned of Blackwater’s involvement in the secret and lethal counterterrorism program, he called for a meeting to advise top Congressional leaders of the program.

House Speaker Pelosi and other lawmakers are calling for an investigation into the secret assassination program to “take whatever actions they believe are necessary to get more information on the subject, including whether former Vice President Dick Cheney played a direct role in proposing the secret program and withholding information from Congress.”

The involvement of Erik Prince’s Blackwater firm, now renamed to Xe, is certainly alarming. Blackwater has been mired in controversy, since it arrived in Iraq at the start of the war to provide private security services. The firm is accused of murdering 17 Iraqi civilians in a September 2007, shooting in Baghdad’s Nisoor Square and that’s not all.

A recent article by Jeremy Scahill for “The Nation,” raises additional concerns, about Blackwater’s allegedly illegal and disturbing activities in Iraq. To say that Blackwater’s involvement in the secret assassination program, raised “accountability” concerns is an understatement.

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