CIA DIRECTOR PANETTA CONTRACTS BLACKWATER SECURITY FIRM
Jim Kouri, CPP
July 18, 2010
During an interview on ABC television's Sunday news show "This Week," Director of Central Intelligence Leon Panetta explained a $100-million contract with the controversial firm formerly named Blackwater Worldwide to provide security services in Afghanistan.
When the contract was first announced, several lawmakers voiced outrage by the Obama government's dealings with Xe Services, the new corporate name for Blackwater. Opponents of the deal claim the "recycled special operations company is the same as when its security personnel allegedly killed unarmed Iraqis."
Five of its security officers allegedly killed 17 unarmed Iraqis and wounded about 20 other civilians during a September 2007 incident in Baghdad.
Director Panetta claimed during the interview that his agency did not have much choice but to turn to Xe since it is one of the few firms capable of providing large-scale security services in war zones.
Panetta told ABC television's "This Week" audience:
"I have to tell you that in the war zone, we continue to have needs for security. You've got a lot of forward bases. We've got a lot of attacks on some of these bases. We've got to have security.
"Unfortunately, there are a few companies that provide that kind of security. The State Department relies on them, we rely on them to a certain extent."
However, critics of the Xe deal claim that another firm, DynCorp International, is a firm just as capable of handling a large-scale security mission in Afghanistan. DynCorp is a company as capable and professional as any other firm and it doesn't have the 'baggage' that Blackwater must carry no matter what name it goes by.
"[Xe] underbid everyone else by about 26 million dollars. And a panel that we had said that they can do the job, that they have cleaned up their act. So there really was not much choice but to accept that contract," Panetta explained.
The CIA isn't the only federal agency awarding a contract to Xe. Secretary Hillary Clinton's US State Department last week signed a security services contract worth some 120 million dollars with Xe. That, too, was for security services in Afghanistan.
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The firm, with corporate headquarters in North Carolina, lost its Iraq contract to provide security for US embassy diplomats after the Iraqi government and U.S. military opponents repeatedly accused it of adopting a "cowboy mentality," according to an AP report. Blackwater's services were dropped last year.
© 2010 Jim Kouri- All Rights Reserved