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.
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. officers, they say, Blackwater personnel at times became partners in missions to capture or kill militants in Iraq and Afghanistan, a practice that raises questions about the use of guns for hire on the battlefield.
Schultz asked Scahill if we had any idea of what kind of resources Blackwater had committed in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Scahill: Ed, this company was a plausible deniability machine. Erik Prince the owner of that company built a parallel infrastructure to the U.S. military. He had an air force with his own aircraft. He had a maritime division. He had Blackwater Select which was providing special operations guys. They were guarding and still do guard U.S. diplomats and ambassadors, including the U.S. ambassador in Afghanistan right now.
Ed I also understand that Blackwater, because it’s owned by such an incredibly wealthy individual did some operations for free. That’s the ultimate deniability under the Bush administration. There were arrangements with Cheney, the C.I.A. and Special Forces where Blackwater’s guys were essentially working for free in operations funded by the owner of that company Erik Prince.
The story here though Ed that everyone seems to be missing is that Blackwater wasn’t just working for the C.I.A. They were working for the Joint Special Operations Command—the U.S. military and we talked about this on your show recently, including in Pakistan where Blackwater simultaneously worked for the C.I.A. and for JSOC. That story is a scandal that needs to be investigated much more thoroughly Ed.
Schultz: Is this relationship between Blackwater and the C.I.A. and the use of Blackwater still in existence under the Obama administration.
Scahill: It certainly is. In fact news breaking as I came on tonight that Leon Panetta the C.I.A. Director is trying to cancel Blackwater’s participation in the C.I.A. drone bombing campaign which has put its operatives on the ground not only in Pakistan but in Afghanistan as well. And so my understanding from both within Blackwater and from outside is that Blackwater remains very active with both U.S. Special Forces and the C.I.A.
Scahill tweeted this before going on Ed's show: #Blackwater is leaking the CIA ops for a reason. It also distracts from ongoing ops that are not CIA.