I was contacted by CNN this morning for assistance with a humorous segment they were trying to put together on Blackwater's name. The journalist told me she realized it might not be the lightest of segments when she looked up the meaning of blackwater and saw it could be waters with feces and other nasty particulate matter suspended in it. That sort of sums up the current situation of Blackwater USA--they're definitely bogged down in deep shit. Her comments did raise the question for me, "How Black Are the Waters?" as in how secret are the government projects that are outsourced. I ran this by her producer, but it was determined that the topic was "way too heavy" for them at Wolf Blitzer's Situation Room.
Okey Dokey. Now I'm thinking Fox & Friends...
Seriously, how black are the waters Blackwater prowls?
The answer is the waters of clandestine and covert government outsourcing get very black, much blacker than anything that Blackwater USA is involved with.
So what do we know about Blackwater's black contracts? Blackwater contracts with the CIA, much to competitor Triple Canopy's envy and frustration. Blackwater is not, however, the biggest security contractor hired by the Agency. That title belongs to a very large, very low profile company that you've never read about in the media that provides site security to CIA facilities worldwide, including the blackest sites the Agency runs.
Blackwater provides Protective Security Details and Tactical Support Teams to the CIA in Iraq, very similar to the services for the State Department that have caused it so much misery of late. The Tactical Support Teams are rapid response teams comprised of their top operators, highly skilled and disciplined professionals, a far cry from the trigger-happy mercenaries portrayed in the media. These are the real tier-one guys who swoop in to reinforce and, if needed, rescue Protective Security Details. (It was a Tactical Support Team that was involved in the controversial shooting.)
The European Parliament has implicated Blackwater with CIA rendition flights to the secret CIA prisons where terrorists are interrogated using "special interrogation methods," the so-called "black sites." Blackwater denies this, but if they are indeed contracted by the Air Branch, they would have to deny it. The CIA's Special Activities Division's Air Branch has long been a mess. Since Dusty Foggo got nailed in the Duke Cunningham scandal before he got his big chance to consolidate air services in a single, pocket-lining contract, the Air Branch has continued to contract out airlift services to multiple vendors, so it's very possible that Blackwater aviation has been used for such activities. It's also quite likely that the bulk of the detainee transport has been handled by CIA proprietary companies and private corporations have only been used when these are unavailable. And, contrary to popular belief, there most likely aren't all that many prisoner transport flights--definitely not enough to keep a single plane busy--because there just aren't that many high value detainees.
Blackwater at one time had contracts with the Department of Energy about which one can infer that it has probably guarded nukes or nuclear facilities. It's unknown whether this is an ongoing contract.
What else could they be up to now? When I heard about recent accusations that Blackwater was involved in smuggling arms into Iraq and these arms had somehow landed in the hands of the PKK (the Kurdish terrorist organization that has long fought the Turkish government), I could not believe that the company would be involved in such an illicit activity, particularly since 90% of its business is with the US government, an entity that they would never want to cross. However, the spy novelist in me couldn't help but wonder if an Agency contract was involved...
Plausible deniability is a bitch--or rather in this case it's perhaps more like "waters with feces and other particulate matter suspended in it."