Posts Tagged ‘Blackwater’

Libyen: Cash From Chaos

Montag, Dezember 24th, 2012

“Blackwater Wins the Battle of Benghazi

BY SPENCER ACKERMAN12.20.121:06 PM

A diplomatic security agent, right, ushers U.S. diplomats from a helicopter in Afghanistan, 2011

A diplomatic security agent, right, ushers U.S. diplomats from a helicopter in Afghanistan, 2011. Photo: Department of State

U.S. embassy security in the post-Benghazi era is shaping up to be a financial bonanza for security contractors. It’s not necessarily going to look like the ‘roided-out era in which the firm formerly known as Blackwater and its ilk paraded diplomats through dangerous thoroughfares with specialty rifles in tow. But any company that can provide the State Department with either armed guards, surveillance tools or hardened facilities would be smart to practice its elevator pitch.

The scope of the bonanza isn’t yet clear, especially concerning how much of a likely cash infusion at the State Department will go to private security contractors. And the rebranded company Academi doesn’t do nearly the amount of business with State that it did under its old Blackwater incarnation, and so we’re just using its old moniker as a placeholder here. But both the influential independent commission on the September attacks in Benghazi and a Senate hearing on Thursday pointed to flooding the State Department’s security corps with money. And one of the key post-Benghazi decisions the next secretary of state will make is whether to continue spending that cash on hired guards or to bolster the ranks of State Department employees that protect diplomats themselves.

The Benghazi commission, run by former Amb. Thomas Pickering and retired Adm. Mike Mullen, recommended spending an additional $2.2 billion over the next decade on “construction of new facilities in high risk, high threat areas.” It also urged using emergency war funding to finance “respond[ing] to emerging security threats and vulnerabilities and operational requirements” in dangerous postings. Ironically, even while the commission blasted the Bureau of Diplomatic Security for inadequately protecting the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, its recommendations will line the bureau’s coffers.

At the State Department, Secretary Hillary Rodham Clinton asked Congress to reroute $1.3 billion in unspent Iraq reconstruction cash for enhancing embassy security. According to congressional sources who’ve seen the request, that cash takes a variety of forms: hiring 150 more Diplomatic Security agents for the State Department; funding an additional deployment of 225 Marines comprising 35 teams; and approximately $700 million to bolster the exterior defenses of its diplomatic buildings. A letter Clinton sent to her legislative oversight committees urged legislators give her “authority to streamline mandatory processes for faster results.” The Sex Pistols called it Cash From Chaos; the diplomatic corps prefers more bureaucratic language.

Those calls for added cash were blessed by a key legislative panel, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, at a Friday hearing. Senators of both parties repeated the mantra “resources matter” and decried recent cuts in the State Department’s operations budget, a perspective cheered by Clinton deputies Thomas Nides and William Burns. “Just to build a wall at an embassy could potentially take months to go through a contracting process,” Nides lamented.

Most U.S. diplomatic facilities are secured by personnel run by the governments that host them, an obligation under an international pact known as the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations. Some senators on the panel expressed discomfort with it, particularly after learning that the Benghazi complex was secured by unarmed employees of a British security firm and by a Libyan militia that proved unreliable. “Generally, these people are confused, said Sen. James Risch (R-Id.), who said he got a “real sense of incompetence” from foreign guards. Nides and Black pledged that a revamped team at the Bureau of Diplomatic Security was taking a look at the “capacity” of local forces in “high risk” environments to adequately protect U.S. diplomats.

This is a crucial moment for the Bureau of Diplomatic Security. When it doesn’t depend on local guards to protect embassies, it depends on private security contractor in dangerous places. Numerous internal State Department studies have faulted the bureau for lax oversight of those contractors, which has led to dead local civilians and wasted money. And it’s not just the bureau: its ultimate boss, Undersecretary for Management Patrick Kennedy, blocked Congress’ Iraq watchdog from learning even basic facts about its hired army in Iraq. The bureau may have been burned by the Benghazi commission, but it’s about to have a lot more cash on its hands.

But if there was ever a time for Diplomatic Security to reform, it’s now, after its four top leaders resigned over their Benghazi performance. In addition to hiring new Diplomatic Security agents, Clinton has set up a new position in the department to oversee how it protects State’s most dangerous outposts. Congressional sources say that the biggest opportunity for post-Benghazi contract cash is in the construction windfall for bolstering embassy perimeter security and installing better spy equipment. If the bureau opts to train and deploy more of its own agents to protect diplomats instead of hiring guards, it would mark a major departure for the State Department.

That’s a departure that seemed to weigh heavily on the Senate panel chairman, Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.). Kerry threw his support for having an “expeditionary diplomatic corps” that goes “outside the wire” to connect with locals in far-flung places. But he worried about the “unmistakable stare” from distrustful locals “as you pass through a village with masses of guns and big armored personnel carriers and Humvees.” What he didn’t say is that that’s how U.S. diplomats pass through those villages: in armored SUVs full of men in wraparound shades and carrying rifles. With Kerry likely to be nominated as secretary of state, he’ll decide how comfortable he is with State’s history of using those contractors to keep his diplomats safe — especially since he’s likely to have a lot more cash in a chaotic world to spend on security.”

 

(Quelle: Wired.com)

BRD: Die andere Piratenpartei

Donnerstag, September 29th, 2011

“Söldner für deutsche Schiffe

Private Militärdienste sind ein gutes Geschäft – auch für deutsche Unternehmen

Von Hermannus Pfeifer, Hamburg

Trotz zahlreicher Piratenüberfälle sieht die Bundesregierung einen Einsatz der Bundespolizei auf deutschen Handelsschiffen eher skeptisch. Anders als im Luftverkehr gebe es bei Handelsschiffen keine besondere Schutzpflicht des Staates, hieß es am Freitag aus Regierungskreisen. Bundesinnenminister Hans-Peter Friedrich (CSU) befürwortet den Einsatz privater Sicherheitsdienste. Allerdings sollen deutsche Reeder dabei nur Söldner von Firmen einsetzen dürfen, die eine staatliche Zulassung haben.

Der hierzulande verbotene Einsatz von privaten Piratenjägern ist weltweit längst Praxis. Auf jedem zehnten Handelsschiff fahren nach Angaben der Gewerkschaft ver.di bewaffnete Söldner mit. Reeder nennen noch höhere Zahlen: Sicherheitsdienste kämen die Unternehmen unterm Strich billiger als Versicherungsprämien und Lösegelder. Aus Sicht der Reeder erscheint es alternativlos, die Piraten-Bekämpfung »in professionelle Hände zu legen«, sagt Claus Brandt, Experte der Beratungsgesellschaft PWC. 27 deutsche Reedereien setzen bereits bewaffnete private Sicherheitsdienste ein, weitere sechs Reedereien unbewaffnete Wachleute. Eigner nutzen dabei das Seerecht aus: Lediglich auf Schiffen unter Schwarz-Rot-Gold gilt deutsches Recht. Von den 3659 Schiffen mit bundesdeutschen Eigentümern fahren jedoch nur 570 unter deutscher Flagge.

Im privaten Sicherheitsgeschäft auf See tummeln sich bekannte internationale Größen. Zu den ersten Firmen, die das Geschäftsfeld Piratenabwehr für sich erschließen wollten, gehört Blackwater. Das Unternehmen, das sich in Irak einen zweifelhaften Ruf erwarb, tritt heute unter dem Namen »Xe Services« auf. Erfahrungen auf See konnte die Firma zunächst nicht vorweisen. Inzwischen hat Blackwater/Xe eine Reihe ehemaliger Marinesoldaten unter Vertrag, meldet der Infodienst »Streitkräfte und Strategien«. Trotzdem, so Piratenexperte Michael Weisfeld, haben viele Reeder »wenig Vertrauen zu den international tätigen Sicherheitsfirmen«. Sie fordern daher eine staatliche Zertifizierung und dürften im Regelfall lieber auf deutsche Militärfirmen setzen.

Der Bundesverband Deutscher Wach- und Sicherheitsunternehmen (BDWS) wiegelt ab, das Interesse der Mitgliedsfirmen sei »verhalten«. Dazu dürfte die unsichere Rechtslage beitragen. So sind Kriegswaffen für private Militärfirmen in Deutschland tabu. Außerdem erfordern Pirateneinsätze eine aufwendige Logistik. Die Teams gehen vor der Südspitze Indiens oder vor Tansania auf hoher See von eigenen Versetzbooten an Bord und fahren drei, vier Tage mit, um später auf der anderen Seite des Gefahrengebietes wieder auszusteigen. Schnellfeuerwaffen und Maschinengewehre bringen Sicherheitsleute mit. Der Transport solcher Kriegswerkzeuge durch Häfen und Flughäfen dürfte nur in wenigen Fällen legal ablaufen.

Die Münchner Firma Result Group bietet auf ihrer Internet-Seite die »Begleitung von Schiffen in High-Risk-Areas« wie den Golf von Aden und Indonesien an. Das Unternehmen soll von einem Hauptkommissar der bayrischen Polizei gegründet worden sein und wirbt mit seinen 60 »hoch qualifizierten Experten«, die früher unter anderem für das Kommando Spezialkräfte (KSK) der Bundeswehr oder die GSG 9 der Bundespolizei gearbeitet hätten.

Konkurrent International Security Network (ISN), eine GmbH aus dem badischen Rheinmünster, wirbt gleich mit einem kürzlich erfolgten Besuch des Generals a.D. Ulrich Wegener. Der frühere Chef der Spezialpolizeieinheit GSG 9 soll sich von der »taktischen und strategischen Leistungsfähigkeit« beeindruckt gezeigt haben. Innerhalb von 48 Stunden könne ISN Einsatzkräfte und ihr üppiges Equipment weltweit einsetzen.

Rolf Uesseler, Autor des Standardwerkes über private Militärfirmen (»Krieg als Dienstleistung«), befürchtet, dass See-Söldner »die Demokratie zerstören« könnten. Und die Gewerkschaft ver.di hält private Piratenjäger eher für einen Teil der »Ausweitung des Problems«. Es drohe eine Gewaltspirale auf dem Meer.”

 

(Quelle: Neues Deutschland.)

Siehe auch:

Verdi für einen Einsatz der deutschen Marine zum Schutz für Frachter!

Vereinigte Arabische Emirate: Die geheime Privatarmee des Scheichs

Sonntag, Mai 15th, 2011

“Secret Desert Force Set Up by Blackwater’s Founder

By MARK MAZZETTI and EMILY B. HAGER

ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates — Late one night last November, a plane carrying dozens of Colombian men touched down in this glittering seaside capital. Whisked through customs by an Emirati intelligence officer, the group boarded an unmarked bus and drove roughly 20 miles to a windswept military complex in the desert sand.

The Colombians had entered the United Arab Emirates posing as construction workers. In fact, they were soldiers for a secret American-led mercenary army being built by Erik Prince, the billionaire founder of Blackwater Worldwide, with $529 million from the oil-soaked sheikdom.

Mr. Prince, who resettled here last year after his security business faced mounting legal problems in the United States, was hired by the crown prince of Abu Dhabi to put together an 800-member battalion of foreign troops for the U.A.E., according to former employees on the project, American officials and corporate documents obtained by The New York Times.

The force is intended to conduct special operations missions inside and outside the country, defend oil pipelines and skyscrapers from terrorist attacks and put down internal revolts, the documents show. Such troops could be deployed if the Emirates faced unrest or were challenged by pro-democracy demonstrations in its crowded labor camps or democracy protests like those sweeping the Arab world this year.

The U.A.E.’s rulers, viewing their own military as inadequate, also hope that the troops could blunt the regional aggression of Iran, the country’s biggest foe, the former employees said. The training camp, located on a sprawling Emirati base called Zayed Military City, is hidden behind concrete walls laced with barbed wire. Photographs show rows of identical yellow temporary buildings, used for barracks and mess halls, and a motor pool, which houses Humvees and fuel trucks. The Colombians, along with South African and other foreign troops, are trained by retired American soldiers and veterans of the German and British special operations units and the French Foreign Legion, according to the former employees and American officials.

In outsourcing critical parts of their defense to mercenaries — the soldiers of choice for medieval kings, Italian Renaissance dukes and African dictators — the Emiratis have begun a new era in the boom in wartime contracting that began after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. And by relying on a force largely created by Americans, they have introduced a volatile element in an already combustible region where the United States is widely viewed with suspicion.

The United Arab Emirates — an autocracy with the sheen of a progressive, modern state — are closely allied with the United States, and American officials indicated that the battalion program had some support in Washington.

“The gulf countries, and the U.A.E. in particular, don’t have a lot of military experience. It would make sense if they looked outside their borders for help,” said one Obama administration official who knew of the operation. “They might want to show that they are not to be messed with.”

Still, it is not clear whether the project has the United States’ official blessing. Legal experts and government officials said some of those involved with the battalion might be breaking federal laws that prohibit American citizens from training foreign troops if they did not secure a license from the State Department.

Mark C. Toner, a spokesman for the department, would not confirm whether Mr. Prince’s company had obtained such a license, but he said the department was investigating to see if the training effort was in violation of American laws. Mr. Toner pointed out that Blackwater (which renamed itself Xe Services ) paid $42 million in fines last year for training foreign troops in Jordan and other countries over the years.

The U.A.E.’s ambassador to Washington, Yousef al-Otaiba, declined to comment for this article. A spokesman for Mr. Prince also did not comment.

For Mr. Prince, the foreign battalion is a bold attempt at reinvention. He is hoping to build an empire in the desert, far from the trial lawyers, Congressional investigators and Justice Department officials he is convinced worked in league to portray Blackwater as reckless. He sold the company last year, but in April, a federal appeals court reopened the case against four Blackwater guards accused of killing 17 Iraqi civilians in Baghdad in 2007.

To help fulfill his ambitions, Mr. Prince’s new company, Reflex Responses, obtained another multimillion-dollar contract to protect a string of planned nuclear power plants and to provide cybersecurity. He hopes to earn billions more, the former employees said, by assembling additional battalions of Latin American troops for the Emiratis and opening a giant complex where his company can train troops for other governments.

Knowing that his ventures are magnets for controversy, Mr. Prince has masked his involvement with the mercenary battalion. His name is not included on contracts and most other corporate documents, and company insiders have at times tried to hide his identity by referring to him by the code name “Kingfish.” But three former employees, speaking on the condition of anonymity because of confidentiality agreements, and two people involved in security contracting described Mr. Prince’s central role.

The former employees said that in recruiting the Colombians and others from halfway around the world, Mr. Prince’s subordinates were following his strict rule: hire no Muslims.

Muslim soldiers, Mr. Prince warned, could not be counted on to kill fellow Muslims.

A Lucrative Deal

Last spring, as waiters in the lobby of the Park Arjaan by Rotana Hotel passed by carrying cups of Turkish coffee, a small team of Blackwater and American military veterans huddled over plans for the foreign battalion. Armed with a black suitcase stuffed with several hundred thousand dollars’ worth of dirhams, the local currency, they began paying the first bills.

The company, often called R2, was licensed last March with 51 percent local ownership, a typical arrangement in the Emirates. It received about $21 million in start-up capital from the U.A.E., the former employees said.

Mr. Prince made the deal with Sheik Mohamed bin Zayed al-Nahyan, the crown prince of Abu Dhabi and the de facto ruler of the United Arab Emirates. The two men had known each other for several years, and it was the prince’s idea to build a foreign commando force for his country.

Savvy and pro-Western, the prince was educated at the Sandhurst military academy in Britain and formed close ties with American military officials. He is also one of the region’s staunchest hawks on Iran and is skeptical that his giant neighbor across the Strait of Hormuz will give up its nuclear program.

“He sees the logic of war dominating the region, and this thinking explains his near-obsessive efforts to build up his armed forces,” said a November 2009 cable from the American Embassy in Abu Dhabi that was obtained by the anti-secrecy group WikiLeaks.

For Mr. Prince, a 41-year-old former member of the Navy Seals, the battalion was an opportunity to turn vision into reality. At Blackwater, which had collected billions of dollars in security contracts from the United States government, he had hoped to build an army for hire that could be deployed to crisis zones in Africa, Asia and the Middle East. He even had proposed that the Central Intelligence Agency use his company for special operations missions around the globe, but to no avail. In Abu Dhabi, which he praised in an Emirati newspaper interview last year for its “pro-business” climate, he got another chance.

Mr. Prince’s exploits, both real and rumored, are the subject of fevered discussions in the private security world. He has worked with the Emirati government on various ventures in the past year, including an operation using South African mercenaries to train Somalis to fight pirates. There was talk, too, that he was hatching a scheme last year to cap the Icelandic volcano then spewing ash across Northern Europe.

The team in the hotel lobby was led by Ricky Chambers, known as C. T., a former agent with the Federal Bureau of Investigation who had worked for Mr. Prince for years; most recently, he had run a program training Afghan troops for a Blackwater subsidiary called Paravant.

He was among the half-dozen or so Americans who would serve as top managers of the project, receiving nearly $300,000 in annual compensation. Mr. Chambers and Mr. Prince soon began quietly luring American contractors from Afghanistan, Iraq and other danger spots with pay packages that topped out at more than $200,000 a year, according to a budget document. Many of those who signed on as trainers — which eventually included more than 40 veteran American, European and South African commandos — did not know of Mr. Prince’s involvement, the former employees said.

Mr. Chambers did not respond to requests for comment.

He and Mr. Prince also began looking for soldiers. They lined up Thor Global Enterprises, a company on the Caribbean island of Tortola specializing in “placing foreign servicemen in private security positions overseas,” according to a contract signed last May. The recruits would be paid about $150 a day.

Within months, large tracts of desert were bulldozed and barracks constructed. The Emirates were to provide weapons and equipment for the mercenary force, supplying everything from M-16 rifles to mortars, Leatherman knives to Land Rovers. They agreed to buy parachutes, motorcycles, rucksacks — and 24,000 pairs of socks.

To keep a low profile, Mr. Prince rarely visited the camp or a cluster of luxury villas near the Abu Dhabi airport, where R2 executives and Emirati military officers fine-tune the training schedules and arrange weapons deliveries for the battalion, former employees said. He would show up, they said, in an office suite at the DAS Tower — a skyscraper just steps from Abu Dhabi’s Corniche beach, where sunbathers lounge as cigarette boats and water scooters whiz by. Staff members there manage a number of companies that the former employees say are carrying out secret work for the Emirati government.

Emirati law prohibits disclosure of incorporation records for businesses, which typically list company officers, but it does require them to post company names on offices and storefronts. Over the past year, the sign outside the suite has changed at least twice — it now says Assurance Management Consulting.

While the documents — including contracts, budget sheets and blueprints — obtained by The Times do not mention Mr. Prince, the former employees said he negotiated the U.A.E. deal. Corporate documents describe the battalion’s possible tasks: intelligence gathering, urban combat, the securing of nuclear and radioactive materials, humanitarian missions and special operations “to destroy enemy personnel and equipment.”

One document describes “crowd-control operations” where the crowd “is not armed with firearms but does pose a risk using improvised weapons (clubs and stones).”

People involved in the project and American officials said that the Emiratis were interested in deploying the battalion to respond to terrorist attacks and put down uprisings inside the country’s sprawling labor camps, which house the Pakistanis, Filipinos and other foreigners who make up the bulk of the country’s work force. The foreign military force was planned months before the so-called Arab Spring revolts that many experts believe are unlikely to spread to the U.A.E. Iran was a particular concern.

An Eye on Iran

Although there was no expectation that the mercenary troops would be used for a stealth attack on Iran, Emirati officials talked of using them for a possible maritime and air assault to reclaim a chain of islands, mostly uninhabited, in the Persian Gulf that are the subject of a dispute between Iran and the U.A.E., the former employees said. Iran has sent military forces to at least one of the islands, Abu Musa, and Emirati officials have long been eager to retake the islands and tap their potential oil reserves.

The Emirates have a small military that includes army, air force and naval units as well as a small special operations contingent, which served in Afghanistan, but over all, their forces are considered inexperienced.

In recent years, the Emirati government has showered American defense companies with billions of dollars to help strengthen the country’s security. A company run by Richard A. Clarke, a former counterterrorism adviser during the Clinton and Bush administrations, has won several lucrative contracts to advise the U.A.E. on how to protect its infrastructure.

Some security consultants believe that Mr. Prince’s efforts to bolster the Emirates’ defenses against an Iranian threat might yield some benefits for the American government, which shares the U.A.E.’s concern about creeping Iranian influence in the region.

“As much as Erik Prince is a pariah in the United States, he may be just what the doctor ordered in the U.A.E.,” said an American security consultant with knowledge of R2’s work.

The contract includes a one-paragraph legal and ethics policy noting that R2 should institute accountability and disciplinary procedures. “The overall goal,” the contract states, “is to ensure that the team members supporting this effort continuously cast the program in a professional and moral light that will hold up to a level of media scrutiny.”

But former employees said that R2’s leaders never directly grappled with some fundamental questions about the operation. International laws governing private armies and mercenaries are murky, but would the Americans overseeing the training of a foreign army on foreign soil be breaking United States law?

Susan Kovarovics, an international trade lawyer who advises companies about export controls, said that because Reflex Responses was an Emirati company it might not need State Department authorization for its activities.

But she said that any Americans working on the project might run legal risks if they did not get government approval to participate in training the foreign troops.

Basic operational issues, too, were not addressed, the former employees said. What were the battalion’s rules of engagement? What if civilians were killed during an operation? And could a Latin American commando force deployed in the Middle East really be kept a secret?

Imported Soldiers

The first waves of mercenaries began arriving last summer. Among them was a 13-year veteran of Colombia’s National Police force named Calixto Rincón, 42, who joined the operation with hopes of providing for his family and seeing a new part of the world.

“We were practically an army for the Emirates,” Mr. Rincón, now back in Bogotá, Colombia, said in an interview. “They wanted people who had a lot of experience in countries with conflicts, like Colombia.”

Mr. Rincón’s visa carried a special stamp from the U.A.E. military intelligence branch, which is overseeing the entire project, that allowed him to move through customs and immigration without being questioned.

He soon found himself in the midst of the camp’s daily routines, which mirrored those of American military training. “We would get up at 5 a.m. and we would start physical exercises,” Mr. Rincón said. His assignment included manual labor at the expanding complex, he said. Other former employees said the troops — outfitted in Emirati military uniforms — were split into companies to work on basic infantry maneuvers, learn navigation skills and practice sniper training.

R2 spends roughly $9 million per month maintaining the battalion, which includes expenditures for employee salaries, ammunition and wages for dozens of domestic workers who cook meals, wash clothes and clean the camp, a former employee said. Mr. Rincón said that he and his companions never wanted for anything, and that their American leaders even arranged to have a chef travel from Colombia to make traditional soups.

But the secrecy of the project has sometimes created a prisonlike environment. “We didn’t have permission to even look through the door,” Mr. Rincón said. “We were only allowed outside for our morning jog, and all we could see was sand everywhere.”

The Emirates wanted the troops to be ready to deploy just weeks after stepping off the plane, but it quickly became clear that the Colombians’ military skills fell far below expectations. “Some of these kids couldn’t hit the broad side of a barn,” said a former employee. Other recruits admitted to never having fired a weapon.

Rethinking Roles

As a result, the veteran American and foreign commandos training the battalion have had to rethink their roles. They had planned to act only as “advisers” during missions — meaning they would not fire weapons — but over time, they realized that they would have to fight side by side with their troops, former officials said.

Making matters worse, the recruitment pipeline began drying up. Former employees said that Thor struggled to sign up, and keep, enough men on the ground. Mr. Rincón developed a hernia and was forced to return to Colombia, while others were dismissed from the program for drug use or poor conduct.

And R2’s own corporate leadership has also been in flux. Mr. Chambers, who helped develop the project, left after several months. A handful of other top executives, some of them former Blackwater employees, have been hired, then fired within weeks.

To bolster the force, R2 recruited a platoon of South African mercenaries, including some veterans of Executive Outcomes, a South African company notorious for staging coup attempts or suppressing rebellions against African strongmen in the 1990s. The platoon was to function as a quick-reaction force, American officials and former employees said, and began training for a practice mission: a terrorist attack on the Burj Khalifa skyscraper in Dubai, the world’s tallest building. They would secure the situation before quietly handing over control to Emirati troops.

But by last November, the battalion was officially behind schedule. The original goal was for the 800-man force to be ready by March 31; recently, former employees said, the battalion’s size was reduced to about 580 men.

Emirati military officials had promised that if this first battalion was a success, they would pay for an entire brigade of several thousand men. The new contracts would be worth billions, and would help with Mr. Prince’s next big project: a desert training complex for foreign troops patterned after Blackwater’s compound in Moyock, N.C. But before moving ahead, U.A.E. military officials have insisted that the battalion prove itself in a “real world mission.”

That has yet to happen. So far, the Latin American troops have been taken off the base only to shop and for occasional entertainment.

On a recent spring night though, after months stationed in the desert, they boarded an unmarked bus and were driven to hotels in central Dubai, a former employee said. There, some R2 executives had arranged for them to spend the evening with prostitutes.

Mark Mazzetti reported from Abu Dhabi and Washington, and Emily B. Hager from New York. Jenny Carolina González and Simon Romero contributed reporting from Bogotá, Colombia. Kitty Bennett contributed research from Washington.”

 

(Quelle: New York Times.)

Siehe auch:

Hilfe von Prinz Blackwater

Irak: USA erhöhen die Zahl paramilitärischer Truppen

Freitag, Juli 23rd, 2010

“Iraq Withdrawal? Obama and Clinton Expanding US Paramilitary Force in Iraq

By Jeremy Scahill

UPDATE: In Iraq today, three private security contractors were killed in a rocket attack on Baghdad’s Green Zone. All of them were employees of Triple Canopy, the security company hired by the Obama administration to take over much of Blackwater’s work in Iraq. Another fifteen people were wounded in the attack. The dead included two Ugandans and a Peruvian. The attack highlights the inevitable consequences of an emerging Obama administration policy wherein more contractors are going to be deployed to Iraq and many of them will be so-called third country nationals like those killed in today’s attack. The coming surge in contractors in Iraq is being done under the auspices of the State Department’s diplomatic security division, which was massively expanded under the Bush administration paving the way for the Department’s almost total reliance on private contractors for security in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere.

As a candidate for president, Senator Hillary Clinton vowed to ban the use of private security contractors, which she referred to as mercenaries. ‘These private security contractors have been reckless and have compromised our mission in Iraq,’ Clinton said in February 2008. ‘The time to show these contractors the door is long past due.’ Clinton was one of only two senators to sponsor legislation to ban these companies. Fast forward to the present and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is presiding over what is shaping up to be a radical expansion of a private, US-funded paramilitary force that will operate in Iraq for the foreseeable future–the very type of force Clinton once claimed she opposed.

The State Department is asking Congress to approve funds to more than double the number of private security contractors in Iraq with a State Department official testifying in June at a hearing of the Wartime Contracting Commission that the Department wants ‘between 6,000 and 7,000 security contractors.’ The Department also has asked the Pentagon for twenty-four Blackhawk helicopters, fifty Mine-Resistant Ambush-Protected (MRAP) vehicles and other military equipment. ‘After the departure of U.S. Forces [from Iraq], we will continue to have a critical need for logistical and life support of a magnitude and scale of complexity that is unprecedented in the history of the Department of State,’ wrote Patrick Kennedy, under secretary of state for management, in an April letter to the Pentagon. ‘And to keep our people secure, Diplomatic Security requires certain items of equipment that are only available from the military.’

What is unfolding is the face of President Obama’s scaled-down, rebranded mini-occupation of Iraq. Under the terms of the Status of Forces agreement, all US forces are supposed to be out of Iraq by the end of 2011. Using private forces is a backdoor way of continuing a substantial US presence under the cover of ‘diplomatic security.’ The kind of paramilitary force that Obama and Clinton are trying to build in Iraq is, in large part, a byproduct of the monstrous colonial fortress the United States calls its embassy in Baghdad and other facilities the US will maintain throughout Iraq after the ‘withdrawal.’ The State Department plans to operate five ‘Enduring Presence Posts’ at current US military bases in Basrah, Diyala, Erbil, Kirkuk and Ninewa. The State Department has indicated that more sites may be created in the future, which would increase the demand for private forces. The US embassy in Baghdad is the size of Vatican City, comprised of twenty-one buildings on a 104-acres of land on the Tigris River.

In making their case to Congress and the Defense Department for the expansion of a private paramilitary force in Iraq, State Department officials have developed what they call a ‘lost functionality’ list of fourteen security-related tasks that the military currently perform in Iraq that would become the responsibility of the State Department as US forces draw down. Among these are: recovering killed and wounded personnel, downed aircraft or damaged vehicles, convoy security and threat intelligence. The department also foresees a need to run a tactical operations center that would dispatch of armed response teams. Ambassador Kennedy said that without military equipment and an expansion of personnel, ‘the security of [State] personnel in Iraq will be degraded significantly and we can expect increased casualties.’

For years, companies operating in the private security/defense logistics industry have predicted an increased reliance on contractors in Iraq that would accompany a draw-down of official US forces. What is clear from the current State Department plan for Iraq is that the United States is going to have armed forces in the country for the foreseeable future. The only question is, How many will be there as uniformed soldiers and how many will be private paramilitaries?”

 

(Quelle: The Nation.)

Afghanistan: CIA gibt Blackwater-Nachfolgerin Millionenauftrag

Donnerstag, Juni 24th, 2010

CIA gives Blackwater firm new $100 million contract

By Jeff Stein

The Central Intelligence Agency has hired Xe Services, the private security firm formerly known as Blackwater Worldwide, to guard its facilities in Afghanistan and elsewhere, according to an industry source.

The previously undisclosed CIA contract is worth about $100 million, said the industry source, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss the deal, which is classified.

“It’s for protective services … guard services, in multiple regions,” said the source.

Two other security contractors, Triple Canopy and DynCorp International, put in losing bids for the CIA’s business, the source said.

The revelation comes only a day after members of a federal commission investigating war-zone contractors blasted the State Department for granting Blackwater with a new $120 million contract to guard U.S. consulates under construction in Afghanistan.

CIA spokesman Paul Gimigliano stopped short of confirming the contract, saying only that Xe personnel would not be involved in operations.

“While this agency does not, as a rule, comment on contractual relationships we may or may not have, we follow all applicable federal laws and regulations,” Gimigliano said.

The spokesman added, “We have a very careful process when it comes to procurement, and we take it seriously. We’ve also made it clear that personnel from Xe do not serve with CIA in any operational roles.”

Mark Corallo, a spokesman for Erik Prince, chairman of the board at Xe and owner of Prince Group — which owns Xe — said the firm would have no comment.

“Blackwater has undergone some serious changes,” maintained a U.S. official who is familiar with the deal and spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss it freely.

“They’ve had to if they want to survive. They’ve had to prove to the government that they’re a responsible outfit. Having satisfied every legal requirement, they have the right to compete for contracts. They have people who do good work, at times in some very dangerous places. Nobody should forget that, either.”

The Moyock, N.C.-based firm has been fighting off prosecutions and civil suits since a September 2007 incident in Baghdad, when its guards opened fire in a city square, allegedly killing 17 unarmed civilians and wounding 24.

In December a federal judge threw out charges against five of the alleged Blackwater shooters on procedural grounds, but the Justice Department is appealing the ruling.

Early this year German prosecutors launched a preliminary investigation into allegations that the CIA sent Blackwater operatives on an assassination mission against a suspected terrorist in Hamburg, Germany, in 2001.

In April, meanwhile, a federal grand jury indicted four of Prince’s former top deputies, including his legal counsel, and a fifth employee, on 15 counts of conspiracy, weapons and obstruction-of-justice charges.

Prince personally has not been charged with any crimes.

Members of the federal Commission on Wartime Contracting hammered a State Department official during a hearing Monday, repeatedly asking how much weight was given to Blackwater’s record when the decision was made to give the firm a new contract last week.

“I don’t want to guess,” said Charlene Lamb, the department’s assistant director of International Programs.

Apparently weary of all the controversy, Prince announced two weeks ago he was putting the company on the block.

“A number of firms” are interested in buying the company, a spokeswoman said, declining to elaborate.

Meanwhile, on June 15, The Nation magazine reported that Prince was considering moving to the United Arab Emirates.

“If Prince’s rumored future move is linked to concerns over possible indictment,” wrote Jeremy Scahill, author of a book on Blackwater, “the United Arab Emirates would be an interesting choice for a new home — particularly because it does not have an extradition treaty with the United States.”

Prince’s spokesman Corallo declined to discuss his client’s plans, saying “his personal life is his own.”

 

(Quelle: Washington Post.)

 

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