Where Does Blackwater Play in the CIA-DNI Conflict?

By now you’ve probably read Jeremy Scahill’s latest, which moves forward the story of Blackwater thugs being deployed with the JSOC in Pakistan. It confirms what Sy Hersh reported last year–that these covert actions were (and may still be) eluding Congressional oversight, that Dick Cheney directed their activities directly.

But I’d like to focus on the picture Scahill draws of the competing lines of authority in Pakistan and put it in the context of the recently-solved turf war between Leon Panetta and Dennis Blair. Scahill explains that, since both JSOC and CIA are doing drone strikes in Pakistan (and Blackwater is assisting both) but JSOC’s have remained secret until now, CIA often gets the blame for Blackwater’s mistakes.

The military intelligence source says that the drone strike that reportedly killed Pakistani Taliban leader Baitullah Mehsud, his wife and his bodyguards in Waziristan in August was a CIA strike, but that many others attributed in media reports to the CIA are actually JSOC strikes. “Some of these strikes are attributed to OGA [Other Government Agency, intelligence parlance for the CIA], but in reality it’s JSOC and their parallel program of UAVs [unmanned aerial vehicles] because they also have access to UAVs. So when you see some of these hits, especially the ones with high civilian casualties, those are almost always JSOC strikes.” The Pentagon has stated bluntly, “There are no US military strike operations being conducted in Pakistan.”

The military intelligence source also confirmed that Blackwater continues to work for the CIA on its drone bombing program in Pakistan, as previously reported in the New York Times, but added that Blackwater is working on JSOC’s drone bombings as well. “It’s Blackwater running the program for both CIA and JSOC,” said the source. When civilians are killed, “people go, ‘Oh, it’s the CIA doing crazy shit again unchecked.’ Well, at least 50 percent of the time, that’s JSOC [hitting] somebody they’ve identified through HUMINT [human intelligence] or they’ve culled the intelligence themselves or it’s been shared with them and they take that person out and that’s how it works.”

The military intelligence source says that the CIA operations are subject to Congressional oversight, unlike the parallel JSOC bombings.

I’m particularly focused on these competing lines of authorities in Pakistan because of one aspect to the turf war between Leon Panetta and Dennis Blair. The feud had been reported as one primarily about whether Blair or Panetta will pick station chiefs. But as Marc Ambinder reported, they also feuded over who would control covert ops.

The conflict over covert action was even more sensitive. Since the CIA’s establishment in 1947, its officers have had a direct line to the National Security Council. No cut-outs, no go-betweens.  Blair and his deputies believed that the CIA’s National Clandestine Service was failing to provide a full picture of several of the agency’s largest covert collection and special activity programs. In particular, the DNI would often find out about CIA-initiated drone strikes in Pakistan well after the fact. The CIA was conscientious about briefing the National Security Council, but did not bother to loop in the DNI.

That won’t happen any longer. The CIA will keep its unfettered access to national security principals, and the DNI still doesn’t have the authority to order covert action programs, but the White House is now requiring the CIA to fully brief the DNI on all covert action programs and will seek from the DNI regular assessments of whether any program fits in with the nation’s intelligence strategy, which is set by Blair. Since Blair briefs Congress more often than Panetta does, it makes sense for Blair to know as much about covert action programs as CIA briefers would.

“The relationship between the White House and the CIA on covert action hasn’t changed at all,” a U.S. intelligence official sympathetic to the CIA’s point of view said.  “That includes the direct line of command and communication between the President, who orders covert action, and the CIA, which carries it out. That’s exactly how every president since Harry Truman has wanted it.”

A third issue, regarding CIA attendance at meetings where non-CIA business is discussed,  has also been settled — apparently in favor of the DNI.

Often, CIA officials would bring several representatives to N.S.C. meetings, even when they dealt with other, non-CIA intelligence activities. Blair complained that the CIA was over-represented at the meetings.  The CIA disagreed. But now, for any meeting that deals with non-CIA intelligence activities, Blair can decide whether a CIA or NSA person will represent the DNI. Of course, the White House can who they want, but the point, according to those familiar with the agreement, is that there is one intelligence community leader who decides who participates in high-level meetings.

Now, this is all presented in the context of CIA failing to keep DNI in the loop on covert actions. There’s no mention of whether JSOC is briefing DNI on its own covert actions–though the implication of Scahill’s piece and Hersh’s earlier reporting is that JSOC side-stepped all of that, and reported directly to OVP. But I could also see why CIA would want to be present at meetings that didn’t directly impact it–particularly if the meeting pertained to a parallel covert effort whose mistakes were being blamed on the CIA.

It seems both parallel strains of our covert forces want to avoid oversight–and it seems that Blackwater’s centrality in both strains only exacerbates our command problems.

67 replies
  1. klynn says:

    Jim White and I were just writing in his diary that we were looking forward to your “take” on this Scahill piece.

    You did not disappoint. Thank you EW.

    It seems both parallel strains of our covert forces want to avoid oversight–and it seems that Blackwater’s centrality in both strains only exacerbates our command problems.

    On this note, Obama cannot move forward on his decision until this is addressed.

    If former OVP is still involved, I hope action against him happens ASAP.

    I wonder how many of the recent activities and decisions in the UK have had some of this background information?

    • victoria2dc says:

      On this note, Obama cannot move forward on his decision until this is addressed.

      If former OVP is still involved, I hope action against him happens ASAP.

      Apparently Obama has made his decision and is ready for TV!

      What do you mean by: “If former OVP is still involved, I hope action against him happens ASAP.”

      Are you saying that you think Dick might still be involved in the operational functions of the US military/CIA and its covert programs? How could that be? Wouldn’t that mean that the CIA/military and their contractors have staged a coup and are ignoring the change that took place last January?

      That would be a spectacular revelation, but perhaps I’m not understanding your point. Could you please clarify?

      • bobschacht says:

        What do you mean by: “If former OVP is still involved, I hope action against him happens ASAP.”

        We had a few ex-Intel folks hanging around in the comments a few weeks back, and one of them asserted that when a covert action was initiated by someone (such as Cheney), it was alleged that they retain directive authority with that covert operation even after they’ve left office. They also receive intel related to that operation after they’ve left office. I think that’s what “involved” means. One would think that Obama or his designated representative (such as CIA Director Panetta or DNI Blair) could revoke Cheney’s authorities in such operations, but I don’t know that for a fact. I wonder if Obama even knows what covert ops Cheney had control over.

        Bob in AZ

        • Stephen says:

          This whole issue of Cheney still having input regarding black ops I find very disturbing because I think this would be a paramount concern for all Americans especially the current Obama administration. I know this has been hashed around every once and a while here at Emptywheel but what gives? Is this just another conspiracy theory? It is beyond me that this has not been addressed by the media or anyone for that matter. Is it just a matter of asking Panetta whats going on. Holy shit Batman, this guy is the world’s arch enemy.

          • bmaz says:

            Where has it actually been established that Cheney still has such involvement and/or control? I have seen the speculation and fears, but not a shred of tangible evidence to such effect.

            • Stephen says:

              Sorry bmaz, I do not have any link or evidence that Cheney is still active other than what has been periodically mentioned or discussed here at Emptywheel. Take for instance the gem that Cheney now lives or resides close to CIA headquarters. Is this true, because I find that a bizarre situation if it is? I’m wondering the same as you.

            • Stephen says:

              Sorry bmaz, I do not have any link or evidence that Cheney is still active other than what has been periodically mentioned or discussed here at Emptywheel. Take for instance the gem that Cheney now lives or resides close to CIA headquarters. Is this true, because I find that a bizarre situation if it is? I am wondering the same as you.

  2. Jim White says:

    Turf wars, indeed. I have a call into Levin’s press office, asking for a response to the Scahill piece, but perhaps EW would be much more likely to get a response. If so, I would highly recommend asking that in the upcoming SASC hearings on the Af/Pak escalation that McChrystal be asked directly about many of the revelations in the Scahill piece. I’d especially ask about the accusations of his bypassing the normal military chain of command (see the fairly recent comments from Gates and Jones on that re McChrystal’s speech in London) to deal directly with Cheney. I’d also have someone ask him whether he still has contact with Cheney.

    Shouldn’t there also be SASC hearings on the black JSOC budget for Blackwater?

    • readerOfTeaLeaves says:

      I’d especially ask about the accusations of his bypassing the normal military chain of command (see the fairly recent comments from Gates and Jones on that re McChrystal’s speech in London) to deal directly with Cheney. I’d also have someone ask him whether he still has contact with Cheney.

      Shouldn’t there also be SASC hearings on the black JSOC budget for Blackwater?

      Stunner of a post, EW.
      And great comments.
      Things begin to make more sense now.

      phred@3 must have had the same history profs, and read the same history books, that I have.
      Ominous, indeed.

      I’ve become increasingly convinced that until the black money and off-books accounts are cleaned up, we’ll be in the strangle-hold of criminals and/or neoFeudalists.

      This post synchs perfectly with Fox Fallon’s retirement, because things were happening that he evidently did not know about, and could not control. He was head of the region, was he not?
      So basically, Cheney was subverting the highest Naval officer in the region.

      Looks like ‘the crazies’ are still out of the box.
      And it has to be funded by vast quantities of black money.

  3. phred says:

    A couple of years ago I heard a lecture on the collapse of the ancient Greek democracy. One of the key points made was that initially citizens had to fight in the army. As time went by they paid mercenaries to fight their battles for them. In the end, the mercenaries turned on the Greeks who no longer wanted to pay for their services.

    What I find most ominous in Scahill’s article is the news that Blackwater works for us (CIA and JSOC) and the Pakistanis. They are a for profit mercenary force that will travel the globe to work for whoever will pay them. That cannot be a good thing from our own national security point of view. And I suspect it is also not a good thing as our system of government teeters on the brink of corporate-oligarchy.

  4. BoxTurtle says:

    Obama likely knew and approved of this activity. The drones strike count really jumped when he took office which tells me that Obama is right on top of that activity.

    The problem is going to be in Pakistan, that story removed a lot of the deniability that the Pakistan government was using to allow the drone strikes.

    Pakistan is now between a rock and a hard place. If they stop working with us, the very first AQ operation that comes out of Pakistan could result in US troops in mass in the tribal areas. They saw what happened to Afganistan when they refused to turn over “guest Bin Laden” and they can’t like the thought of that happening in their country. They also know that a few accurate articles about the relationship between the ISI and AQ would be enough for America to dump Pakistan into the friend of AQ bucket, as it’s only high level government support that’s kept them out of that bucket for the last 5 years.

    Both governments will deny the article and try to pretend it never happened. Any congressional hearings will be classified and ObamaCo will try to prevent those.

    Boxturtle (Change, yeah right. But Obama is at least a better dresser than Bush)

    • fatster says:

      But Pakistan has nukes, which does restrict somewhat U.S. options, wouldn’t it? Imagine those nukes in the hands of a very angry, anti-U.S. Pakistani leadership.

      Meanwhile, Gonzo’s baaaaaack:

      Gonzales evades criminal prosecution for misleading Congress on NSA spying

      Reason given for his ability to evade prosecution is quite interesting.

      • BoxTurtle says:

        Oh yeah, they’ve got nukes. But Whom are they going to hit? They can’t reach American territory, I think Diego Garcia and Israel are the only potential targets. Unless they want to hit India just to get the last word.

        Further, we’ve been worrying about their nukes falling into the wrong hands for quite awhile. Although denied by both sides, there have been stories written about US plans to “secure” Pakistan’s nukes in the event of an AQ takeover.

        If we offically invaded pakistan, a face saving explaination would be found. Just like we have with our current “unoffical” invasion.

        Boxturtle (A six warhead American strikeback would kill 85%+ of Pakistans population)

        • fatster says:

          Not trying to argue with you at all. I’m concerned about those nukes because of the possibility of an anti-U.S. group getting into power and transferring the nukes into other hands who might take them to other places where they could be very dangerous. Let’s hope the U.S. is being as vigilant as they say in keeping an eye on the nukes and they are fully prepared to halt any such activity.

          (Obviously, I get very skittish about nukes.)

          • Jim White says:

            Keeping an eye on the nukes qualifies to me as the only reason for having US Special Forces in Pakistan. Forget Blackwater in that role, they’d grab the nukes and then extort a higher “finders fee” to put them in US hands.

          • BoxTurtle says:

            Digesting all that I’ve read about Pakistans nukes, applying a reasonable Bullshit filter, and acknowledging that all parties involved have good reason lie, I believe the following:

            1) Almost all of the nukes aren’t assembled and are kept separate from the cores. The nukes that are assembled are mounted on rockets for a second strike on India.

            2) The United States believes we are aware of all of Pakistans storage locations and have plans to secure the cores if needed. There are at least two plans, one that assumes Pakistans cooperation and one that doesn’t.

            3) The nukes that are assembled have PALs, but we are not confident that Pakistans PALs cannot be bypassed. Pakistan has refused a US offer to share our PALs with them.

            4) AQ is fully aware of the locations of at least some of the storage bunkers.

            5) I think that majority of the cores are U235. This is bad, since it is very easy to make a gun type weapon given the U235.

            6) I think that assembled weapons are PU239, as they would be smaller and lighter for rocket delivery.

            Summary: Great risk there, but manageable IF both sides are smart.

            Boxturtle (And that’s a big IF)

      • bmaz says:

        Well this is pure horse manure. The reason relied on is basically that AGAG fessed up that he did things at the direction of the President and therefore that undermines the criminal element of intent. Pure crap. It, at best, could serve as a pleadable justification defense which could be affirmatively asserted and argues to a jury. This is yet another instance of the refusal of the Obama Administration to “look back” and uphold the law.

        • phred says:

          The DOJ should simply state that politicians and their appointees are not bound by the law and be done with it. At least a bit of honesty would be a little more tolerable than the b.s. they keep spewing on a regular basis.

          I expected to be disappointed by the Obama administration. I did not expect to be this disappointed, however.

  5. phred says:

    Here are another couple of key paragraphs:

    Since 9/11, many top-level Special Forces veterans have taken up employment with private firms, where they can make more money doing the highly specialized work they did in uniform. “The Blackwater individuals have the experience. A lot of these individuals are retired military, and they’ve been around twenty to thirty years and have experience that the younger Green Beret guys don’t,” said retired Army Lieut. Col. Jeffrey Addicott, a well-connected military lawyer who served as senior legal counsel for US Army Special Forces. “They’re known entities. Everybody knows who they are, what their capabilities are, and they’ve got the experience. They’re very valuable.”

    “They make much more money being the smarts of these operations, planning hits in various countries and basing it off their experience in Chechnya, Bosnia, Somalia, Ethiopia,” said the military intelligence source. “They were there for all of these things, they know what the hell they’re talking about. And JSOC has unfortunately lost the institutional capability to plan within, so they hire back people that used to work for them and had already planned and executed these [types of] operations. They hired back people that jumped over to Blackwater SELECT and then pay them exorbitant amounts of money to plan future operations. It’s a ridiculous revolving door.

    Hmmm, where have we seen this sort of thing before? A revolving door from government service to lucrative private employment. As bmaz says, “what could go wrong”?

    So since they give me a perfect opening… Private contractors will bankrupt the country as we pay them “exorbitant amounts of money” to do the same damn thing they did in government service for a lot less and with better oversight.

    It’s not that we will stop paying Blackwater freeing them to work for other countries/private interests, so much as we will run out of funds to pay them.

    Why is it that the fuckers who are pitching fits over the national debt and the cost of “government run healthcare” aren’t on the TV machine every fucking day screaming about this?!?! This is what is crippling the federal budget. And now there are rumors of sending another 34,000 to Afghanistan. How many high-priced Blackwater whores will be going with them I wonder…

    Ok. End of rant.

  6. johnfalstaff says:

    Scahill spells out JSOC. He spells it J-o-i-n-t S-p-e-c-i-a-l O-p-e-r-a-t-i-o-n-s C-o-m-m-a-n-d. SASC is likely the Senate Armed Services Committee.

    • emptywheel says:

      Ah, I see you’re still screaming for finger bowls again, this time screaming AT my other guests.

      But see!! You’ve proved that you now know how the Toobz work. There’s a L-I-N-K there with easily accessible information for the boors who want the party to be conducted on their terms and only their terms.

      At some point, though, you’re probably going to want to figure out whether you actually want to talk to others at this party or just sniff at them. Because it’s one thing for a boorish guest to criticize me. It’s another for a boorish guest to start lecturing my other guests simply because they have an existing, perfectly functional conversation.

      • johnfalstaff says:

        I wasn’t screaming at you and certainly wasn’t screaming at a guest.

        If my understanding of the esoterica is accurate, ignore it. If not, correct it.

        I see you’re still wallowing at less than 80%. Maybe you should try to broaden your base. I suggest you eliminate pretentiousness, disdain, and superciliousness, wherever you find them.

        You have basically the same dozen or so people commenting on every thread. They are informed and informative, albeit meager in number.

        I contributed cash because I thought this blog was important.

        Just 1 administrative aside, I contributed but did not receive a Secret Decoder Ring.

        Cordially yours.

        • 4jkb4ia says:

          Acronyms can very easily be found with The Google.

          Since the days of Plame/TNH, this blog works by accreting small pieces and having them chewed over. You cannot tell the people who are loyal not to do it this way. You can maybe increase readability by having a “related posts” list. I am technically five weeks behind because you have to see things develop. The Patriot Act revision is a good example.

          And a great advantage of doing it this way is that this blog supports COMPLEX NARRATIVES. Never mind that I cannot remember half of the details of same.

    • bmaz says:

      Give it a rest. You seem to be a very bright chap, you are doing just fine and don’t really seem to have any real problem figuring out what is going on. If you do, simply ask; people here are very helpful. But we are not going to change how we do things to suit your individual tastes, and don’t take kindly to the persistent carping that we should. Give it a rest.

  7. TarheelDem says:

    Here is an off-the-wall tinfoil hat question:

    What the relationships through which Dick Cheney can meddle in national security operations, continuing his direct role? Through Blackwater management is an obvious way. But what other avenues open the possibility of Cheney sandbagging Obama’s policies as Bush Sr. did Carter’s.

  8. perris says:

    let me make a point;

    By now you’ve probably read Jeremy Scahill’s latest, which moves forward the story of Blackwater thugs being deployed with the JSOC in Pakistan. It confirms what Sy Hersh reported last year–that these covert actions were (and may still be) eluding Congressional oversight, that Dick Cheney directed their activities directly.

    blackwater is a private company, there is absolutely no reason cheney isn’t STILL directing their activities

    they MUST be de-certified, de-armed and their weapons natinalized

  9. bobschacht says:

    Great analysis! Thanks!

    I wonder if there’s a word missing near the end of your second long quote:

    …Of course, the White House can (____?) who they want,…

    I am also one of those who worries about subcontracting important intelligence operations to non-gov contractors. If that doesn’t amount to a high-level security risk, I don’t know what else would be.

    Bob in AZ

    • readerOfTeaLeaves says:

      f that doesn’t amount to a high-level security risk, I don’t know what else would be.

      Scahill addresses this topic around 1:45 in that segment linked above, and — might I add — in a very respectful way about the expertise of these former Special Ops forces who can make far more at Blackwater AND ALSO do things that are illegal under US law.

      But the issue of whether Cheney controls them, or who does control them, is not raised directly on Morning Ho; the instant it comes into peripheral view, Mika changes the subject. Which is kind of interesting in itself, eh?

  10. readerOfTeaLeaves says:

    Well, Scahill is on Morning Joe today.
    Which is another word for ‘going mainstream’.

    Irrespective of what HoJo says, I always find it interesting to track **who** is invited on that show.
    Mika does a long diversion into the 2012 Pres campaign (gag me!!), and brings up the idea of a run by Lou Dobbs. So then they go to Mark Halprin, whose a co-guest with Scahill. (I interpret the subtext to be: ‘in 2012, Dobbs can’t address our problems, but maybe a Former US Military Commander could’. Ahem…)

    Nice waste of Scahill’s expertise, eh?

    Still, they did show the cover of Scahill’s book, so not a total loss?
    Just a disgusting waste of what could have been a riveting interview with Scahill.

    • readerOfTeaLeaves says:

      Dunno, but was that before or after Fox Fallon tossed in the towel out of what would appear (from my spot in the peanut gallery) to be disgust and frustration?

  11. fatster says:

    Boy, this place is hopping today! Thanks for yet one more brilliant article, EW, and for attracting the enlightened, dedicated folks who gather here.

  12. WilliamOckham says:

    OT: Did I miss a discussion of the new Vaughn Index and Declaration from the CIA of documents relating to the destruction of the torture tapes?

    The first interesting bit is this:

    Of the 55 documents at issue, the Agency determined that 13 documents could be released in part. Prior to releasing the 13 documents, however, the Agency was informed by the Department of Justice that Special Prosecutor John Durham was asserting Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) Exemption (b) (7) (A) over the portions of the 13 documents that the CIA was prepared to release. Therefore, all of the documents were withheld in full.

    • bobschacht says:

      I think the point of this declaration has previously been made by someone here in the Wheel House a week or two ago. Makes one wonder what Durham is up to, or whether he’s just sitting on stuff.

      Bob in AZ

  13. Gitcheegumee says:

    Seymour Hersh did an earlier piece called The Gray Zone for the New Yorker,where much of the history of the black ops,starting with Afghanistan in 2001, is delineated.

    PRIMO info.

    Annals of National Security: The Gray Zone : The New YorkerAnnals of National Security. The Gray Zone. How a secret Pentagon program came to Abu Ghraib. by Seymour M. Hersh May 24, 2004 …
    http://www.newyorker.com/fact/content/?040524fa_fact – Similar

    Was hoping EW would pick up on this Scahill report.Thanks!

  14. earlofhuntingdon says:

    I think the metaphor used with China-US debt relations – the bank owns the small debtor who pays late, the large debtor owns the bank – is distracting and incomplete. More and more, though, it seems to describe the relationship between the US and Blackwater. It has its hands in so many bipartisan supported pies that it would take a Congress of Feingolds and Graysons to extract them.

  15. Gitcheegumee says:

    I don’t know if this was mentioned on earlier threads,but the DOJ dropped charges against a Blackwater employee involved in the massacre of 17 Iraqis back in ’07:

    Sunday, November 22, 2009

    DOJ dropping charges against Blackwater guard involved in 2007 Iraq shootings
    Steve Czajkowski at 9:40 AM ET

    [JURIST] Federal prosecutors from the US Department of Justice (DOJ) [official website] indicated Friday that they will drop manslaughter charges against a Blackwater Worldwide [JURIST news archive] security guard who had been involved in the September 2007 shooting incident in Baghdad [JURIST report] that killed 17 Iraqis.
    According to the US Attorney for the District of Columbia, Channing Phillips [official profile], a motion was filed under seal to dismiss the charges against Nicholas Slatten. No reason was given as to why the indictment was being dismissed, but prosecutors asked [Reuters report] that they be allowed to resubmit the charges at a later date if desired. Since the incident Blackwater has changed its name to Xe Services [corporate website].
    Slatten was one of six guards indicted [text, PDF; JURIST report] in December on charges of voluntary manslaughter, attempt to commit manslaughter, and using and discharging a firearm during and in relation to a crime of violence, which carries a 30-year mandatory minimum sentence. Five of the guards pleaded not guilty [JURIST report] in January. However, a sixth guard pleaded guilty [text, PDF] to charges of voluntary manslaughter and attempt to commit manslaughter for his role in the same incident.
    The Blackwater incident caused domestic outrage in Iraq and has prompted legal controversy in the US. In November 2008, a Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) investigation into the incident concluded that the shootings were unjustified [JURIST report]. Blackwater ended its operations in Iraq [JURIST report] in May.——————-

    Linky to follow

  16. Gitcheegumee says:

    JURIST – Military ContractorsBlackwater ex-employees accuse company of misconduct in Iraq … Fourth Circuit rules insurer not liable for alleged Iraq abuses by military contractor …
    jurist.law.pitt.edu/currentawareness/contractors.php – Cached

  17. Gitcheegumee says:

    I always wondered WHO paid the insurance for injuries suffered by employees of wartime contractors?

    Well, its seems there is a Defense Base Act that uses tax payer money for certain injuries.

    For other injuries ,not covered by DBA, there are just THREE insurance companies underwriting these policies-and contractors MUST have them on their employees. Not surprisingly,AIG is one of the insurance firms. Here’s an excerpt from Propublica:

    National Security
    Pentagon Study Proposes Overhaul of Defense Base Act to Cover Care for Injured Contractors
    by T. Christian Miller, ProPublica – September 15, 2009 6:52 pm EST

    WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congress could save as much as $250 million a year through a sweeping overhaul of the controversial U.S. system to care for civilian contractors injured in war zones, according to a new Pentagon study.

    In the most extensive review ever of the taxpayer-financed system, the Pentagon suggested that the government could issue its own insurance to cover the skyrocketing costs of medical care and disability pay for injured civilians.

    Currently, the U.S. pays more than $400 million annually to AIG and a handful of other carriers to purchase special workers’ compensation insurance policies required for overseas civilian contractors by a law known as the Defense Base Act, the study found.

    By cutting out insurance company profits as high as 35 percent, the government could self-insure the contractors for less money, according to a copy of the study obtained by ProPublica [1]. The study is due to be released Friday.

    The Pentagon’s suggestion would require a massive legislative revision of the government’s 60-year-old system to care for injured civilians, which has been criticized as expensive and ineffective for modern war zones where civilian contractors account for half the work force.

    Under the proposed system, the U.S. would pay directly for medical benefits and disability benefits rather than relying upon private insurance providers. The government would hire an outside firm to administer the claims to avoid the expense of training and hiring examiners.

    The report makes clear, however, that such a fundamental change to the system would face a battle from the insurance industry. AIG dominates the market for the insurance, which exploded from an $18 million a year business to more than $400 million per year after civilian contractors flooded into war zones in Iraq and Afghanistan, the report said.

    AIG controls about 75 percent of the market, followed by Chicago-based CNA and Bermuda-based ACE Group. Together, the three firms collect 97 percent of all premiums paid by defense contractors for the insurance, the cost of which is reimbursed by the government.————–Propublica

  18. Gitcheegumee says:


    Source: BBC===========August,’09

    A court in Pakistan has lifted the final restrictions on controversial nuclear scientist Dr Abdul Qadeer Khan, allowing him total freedom of movement.

    Dr Khan, whose work helped Pakistan become a nuclear state, spent years under house arrest after he admitted selling off nuclear weapons secrets.

    In February 2009 most restrictions on him were lifted, but he still had to notify authorities of his movements.

    Dr Khan confessed to transferring nuclear weapons technology to Libya, North Korea and Iran in 2004 but was later pardoned by former Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf.

    Read more: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/south_asia/8226124.stm

  19. x174 says:

    mt: thanks for following up on the Blackwater-CIA thing

    a comment in Jim White’s post on Scahill’s piece highlights the nexus of bad actors involved and points to potential critical research topics.

    “This story brings together an amazing array of bad actors: Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, Stanley McChrystal and Blackwater. It should come as no surprise, then, that the outcome of this team working together is a jaw-dropping tale of war crimes that continue to be carried out.”

    the Blackwater-CIA operational overlap appears to be a significant clue.

    not only is Blackwater’s & CIA’s (i.e., the executive branch’s) approach in Pakistan (for example) inherently dysfunctional but it looks as though the egregious illegal tentacles created during the Cheney administration have taken on a life of their own.

    isn’t odd that Cheney, who would rarely leave his bat cave over eight years now is in the news every week (and some weeks almost daily)?

    and yet he (like Blackwater) persists, along with

    his assassination squads,
    his redirecting Obama’s agenda ex cathedra
    his extensive covert operations

    it is unimaginable what problems may result if destabilized nuclear Pakistan falls due in part to such Cheneyesque death squads.

  20. x174 says:


    it’s just an idea but i think the compounding cumulative circumstantial evidence speaks loudly and clearly.

    do you think that black ops that were initiated under the Cheney administration are still functionally in existence? i think that it is most likely that they are (e.g., Blackwater).

    do you think it odd that Obama has backpedaled on his entire international agenda after releasing the torture memos?

    do you think it coincidental that right after the torture memos are released that Cheney rears his ugly head and repeatedly denounces the president in public to this very (yester)day?

    what is your explanation for the emasculation of Obama administration and the persistence of the Bush-Cheney policy in every detail?

    it seems reasonable that such vast covert operations cannot be unplugged as simply as Panetta would like us to believe.

    if you haven’t seen it yet i would recommend that you watch the movie called The Walker; it does a nice job of showing what happens when someone like Cheney is in charge.

      • Sara says:

        I read the google selection of Pakistan News perhaps three or four times a week, and one thing I have noted is a significant stand-down in reports of Predator attacks since the beginning of the South Waziristan invasion by the Pak Army. There have been a few in North W — near the border, but none or few deep into the FATA. I have been assuming this is something of a deal — as long as the Pakistani Army keeps going, the Predator attacks will be cut back. Pakistan’s attack against the Mahsud linked Taliban in S. W — is against those attacking Pakistan’s Cities and Institutions. The Predator attacks in N. W seem to be against prefered US and NATO targets such as the Haqqanni networks, with which it is reported ISI has significant relationships. (Reportedly Haqqanni is responsible for both attacks on the Indian Embassy in Kabul.)

        Rough sketch — I think it may be possible the drone attacks have dual purposes. On one hand, yes, take out identified High Value targets. But on the otherhand, they may also serve to pressure Pakistan to put its army in the field in the FATA, instead of on the border with India. As the Pakistani Army progresses, the tempo of the Predator Attacks seems to decrease.

  21. x174 says:


    i submit as evidence the plethora of facts that emerged during the Bush-Cheney administration (exempli gratis: http://www.commondreams.org/views07/0316-28.htm)

    the loose thread known as Blackwater (or Xe) may be the critical detail that elicits the underlying connections linking the Bush and Obama Administrations.

    and yet, knowledge and acquisition of evidence related to executive assassinations may come at a steep price indeed.

  22. marc says:

    The Nation report mentions Blackwater ops posing as aid workers presumably to gather intelligence for drone attacks. If true all I can say is sad day for aid workers in Pakistan or anywhere else thanks to Blackwater they are all walking around with an even bigger target on their backs.

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