Hmmm… Don’t you just love it when the truth just slips out…
Q All right. And I want to talk, of course, about another issue that has come up and again — (inaudible) — about the phone security companies(sic) that have been operating in Iraq, in Afghanistan and now in Pakistan. Xe International, formerly known as Blackwater or Data Corp. Under what rules are they operating here in Pakistan?
SEC. GATES: Well, they’re operating as individual companies here in Pakistan in Afghanistan and in Iraq. Because they are theaters of war involving the United States, there are rules concerning the contracting companies. If they’re contracting with us or with the State Department here in Pakistan, then there are very clear rules set forth by the State Department and by ourselves.
Q Which were, of course, set aside by the government in Iraq.
SEC. GATES: Well, that was a long time ago.
Q Okay. But is there a separate set of rules in place right now?
SEC. GATES: I would say they are very stringent rules.
The Pentagon has gone into damage control mode after Defense Secretary Robert Gates appeared to confirm that security contractor Blackwater is operating in Pakistan.
The admission, quickly denied by Defense Department officials, has set fire to long-simmering rumors inside Pakistan about the involvement of for-profit contractors in the war against the Taliban.
Not just the Pentagon…
* Interior minister challenges those claiming Blackwater’s presence to prove it through documentary evidence
Interior Minister Rehman Malik on Saturday denied the presence of the Blackwater security agency in Pakistan, adding that US Defence Secretary Robert Gates has stated that he was misquoted by the media when they said that he had admitted to Blackwater’s presence in the country.
Talking to reporters after the hand-over ceremony of explosives scanners to Islamabad police at the Islamabad Sports Complex, he termed the reports regarding presence of Blackwater in the country “part of a conspiracy”.
Referring to the US defence secretary’s statement that Blackwater was operating as an individual company in Pakistan, Malik said Gates had told him, “I fell prey to a conspiracy…I was misquoted by the media”.
Challenged: Categorically ruling out the presence of Blackwater in Pakistan, he said, “I state again with full responsibility, and according to the available record, there is no Blackwater in the country. It is just hype being created by certain elements”.
A senior minister from the NWFP Bashir Ahmed Bilour on Friday confirmed the presence of Xe Services, formerly known as Blackwater, in the NWFP.
Bilour further disclosed that not only do Blackwater officials exist in the NWFP, they have also been imparting training to Pakistanis.
However, he added, that Blackwater is operating in a limited capacity in Pakistan.
Meanwhile, the Information Minister Qamar Zaman Kaira also acknowledged the presence of US security agencies in Pakistan after several months of denial.
Some more hype…
The US contractor Blackwater is operating in Pakistan at a secret CIA airfield used for launching drone attacks, according to a former US official, despite repeated government denials that the company is in the country.
The official, who had direct knowledge of the operation, said that employees with Blackwater, now renamed Xe Services, patrol the area round the Shamsi airbase in Baluchistan province.
He also confirmed that Blackwater employees help to load laser-guided Hellfire missiles on to CIA-operated drones that target al-Qaida members suspected of hiding in the Afghanistan-Pakistan border regions, confirming information that surfaced in the US media in the summer.
Ironically that Guardian article was written prior to the Khost tragedy, also this Grey Lady article…
Blackwater Guards Tied to Secret C.I.A. Raids
…Several former Blackwater guards said that their involvement in the operations became so routine that the lines supposedly dividing the Central Intelligence Agency, the military and Blackwater became blurred. Instead of simply providing security for C.I.A. officers, they say, Blackwater personnel at times became partners in missions to capture or kill militants in Iraq and Afghanistan, a practice that raises questions about the use of guns for hire on the battlefield.
So tell me that after the Khost tragedy we’re not vowing revenge…
CIA deaths prompt surge in US drone strikes
Beginning the day after the attack on a CIA base in Khost, Afghanistan, the agency has carried out 11 strikes that have killed about 90 people suspected of being militants, according to Pakistani news reports, which make almost no mention of civilian casualties. The assault has included strikes on a mud fortress in North Waziristan on January 6 that killed 17 people and a volley of missiles on a compound in South Waziristan last Sunday that killed at least 20.
“For the CIA, there is certainly an element of wanting to show that they can hit back,” said Bill Roggio, editor of The Long War Journal, an online publication that tracks the CIA’s drone campaign. Roggio, as well as Pakistani and American intelligence officials, said many of the recent strikes had focused on the Pakistani Taliban and its leader, Hakimullah Mehsud, who claimed responsibility for the Khost bombing.
With a whole lot more to follow…
What the f*ck are we doing…?