Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Blackwater - CIA's dirty work and wet jobs


BLACKWATER-Xe's Erik D. Prince - CIA's "Christian crusader"?

DID five American mercenaries walk free from justice for killing unarmed Iraqi civilians because the US authorities feared their links with the Central Intelligence Agency(CIA) might be brought out into the glare of publicity by a court case?

The five men employed by Blackwater Worldwide - now known as Xe - were accused of killing at least 14 people when they opened fire at close range in a busy Baghdad street two years ago. Altogether 17 people were killed, and twenty wounded. The Blackwater men, who hd been escorting American VIPs to the airport, claimed they were acting in self-defence. But none of those killed were armed.

The trial on manslaughter and fiearms charges was due next month. But in a 90-page memorandum opinion published late on New Year’s Eve, Judge Ricardo Urbina, of the Washington Federal District Court, dismissed the charges and condemned the prosecution for “reckless violation of the defendants’ constitutional rights”.

Survivors of the shooting were shocked, and the Iraqi authorities said they would pursue their own prosecution. They have barred Blackwater - which changed its name to Xe last year - from working in Iraq. Many people here too have understandably commented that the US judge's decision shows up a racialist attitude in which the lives of Iraqis and other 'lesser breeds' are not considered of value, or at least not compared to the 'rights' of gun-toting Americans.

But there is more to it than that.

Blackwater-Xe is not just any old firm, and it does not just provide "security guards", as our media pretend, making them sound like doorkeepers and night-watchmen. Based in Moyock, North Carolina, not far from the Fort Bragg home of the 'Green Berets', the company gets 90 per cent of its work from government, two-thirds of it in no-bid contracts. It provides training for army and police personnel, it provides "security guards", and it also provides a cover for illegal operations which the US government and even the CIA would not want to claim.

This could include actions in 'friendly' countries, like Germany, with or without the host government admitting it knows what is going on.


A court case might also have drawn attention to what is behind widespread killings in Iraq, and more. As in an earlier hearing last year:

'Guards employed by Blackwater, the US security company, shot Iraqis and killed victims in allegedly unprovoked and random attacks, it was claimed yesterday.

A Virginia court also received sworn statements from former Blackwater employees yesterday alleging that Erik Prince, the company’s founder, “views himself as a Christian crusader tasked with eliminating Muslims and the Islamic faith from the globe”.

They also accused the company of following a policy of deliberate killings and arms dealing and of employing people unfit or improperly trained to handle lethal weaponry.

In Baghdad yesterday, some Iraqis said they believed that the case was a last chance for justice and an opportunity for America to divorce the behaviour of its military from the private guards.

Farid Walid, who was shot in Nisour Square two years ago during a massacre that killed 17 Iraqis, said: “Everybody here knows of cases where Blackwater guards shot innocent people without a second thought. They are a symbol of the occupation. Nobody will forget. But Iraqis might think at least a little differently of America if the killers are put in prison.”

Far from being put in prison, they have not even gone into the dock.

As for their boss Erik Prince, whatever his private status as a businessman or beliefs as a "crusader" he also claims to be a CIA operative, a “vetted asset”, with a mission to build “a unilateral, unattributable capability” to hunt down and kill al-Qaeda militants for the US Government. Presumably he would have said so under oath if necessary in court.




Now a story appearing in the magazine Vanity Fair says that in 2004 the CIA sent a team from Blackwater to Hamburg to kill a Syrian-born German citizen suspected of helping fund al Qaeda. The mission was kept secret from the German government, which had been investigating the man for years.

"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 -- 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.

It says the Bush administration had a list of assassination targets, and the CIA wanted to include A Q Khan, a Pakistani nuclear scientist.Iranian nuclear scientist
Massoud Ali-Mohammadi was killed by a bomb outside his home as he left for work at the university on January 12, and the Iranian government is blaming US and/or Israeli intelligence of being behind the attack, though oppositionists claimed the scientist as a supporter, putting suspicion in the government's direction.

Although the attempt on Darkazanli was called off, German MPs are asking what their government did or did not know, and prosecutors in Hamburg have reportedly begun an investigation into the alleged assassination plot.

German authorities had investigated Darkazanli but never charged him. In 2004 he was arrested to meet a Spanish extradition request, but released nine months later.

The German news magazine Der Spiegel has now taken up the story, although a former CIA man insists they only planned to kidnap and interrogate their "suspect", not to kill him.



German politicians either side of the Bundestag are unhappy with the idea that a foreign agency, supposedly a friendly one, could plan an operation on their soil, without bothering to inform their government, and aimed at killing or kidnapping a German citizen, whoever it was. The CIA station officers said it might have been allright in South America, but not in a west European country. Presumably that is why the Agency planned to do it behind a company like Blackwater. And if they contemplated such action in Germany, who is to say they would not do it anywhere else?

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