From The Nation’s press release (You can watch Democracy Now’s interview with Jeremy Scahill here):
In a stunning investigation just posted at TheNation.com, Jeremy Scahill reveals a covert military operation being run almost entirely by Blackwater, USA, a military contractor embroiled in controversy for their actions in Iraq and the Middle East. Key points from the piece:
- An elite division of Blackwater, USA is running a covert, US Military operation that includes planning targeted assassinations, “snatch and grabs” and other sensitive actions inside and outside Pakistan. This is a program that not even some Senior Level Obama Administration and Pentagon officials are aware of.
- Blackwater operatives are assisting in gathering intelligence to help run a secret, second and heretofore unreported, US military drone bombing campaign that runs parallel to the well-documented CIA predator strikes.
- Sources for The Nation report that some non-military Blackwater employees, outside of the US Military chain of command, have obtained rolling security clearances above their approved clearances, and higher than even members of the US Congress.
- Sources say that employees of Blackwater, USA are inclined to use less reliable intelligence, and to give less concern to civilian casualties. One source:
CIA operations are subject to Congressional oversight, unlike the parallel JSOC bombings. “Targeted killings are not the most popular thing in town right now and the CIA knows that,” he says. “Contractors and especially JSOC personnel working under a classified mandate are not [overseen by Congress], so they just don’t care. If there’s one person they’re going after and there’s thirty-four people in the building, thirty-five people are going to die. That’s the mentality.”
- As part of their operations, Blackwater employees may be posing as USAID workers.
The Nation’s source for much of the information is a US Military official. A second named interview subject, Col. Lawrence Wilkerson, who served as Secretary of State Colin Powell’s chief of staff from 2002 to 2005, linked these covert operations to the current debate on troop levels. “Part of this, of course, is an attempt to get around the constraints the Congress has placed on DoD. If you don’t have sufficient soldiers to do it, you hire civilians to do it.”