Blackwater/Academi settles weapons-smuggling charges

Blackwater/Academi headquartersBy JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
In the eyes of many, the United States-based security firm formerly known as Blackwater is synonymous with ‘scandal’. Founded in 1997 by self-confessed CIA agent Erik Prince, the company was awarded hundreds of millions of dollars in non-competitive contract bids by the Bush administration, to provide wide-ranging security services in Iraq. But the company’s ‘shoot-first-ask-questions-later’ attitude resulted in numerous bloody incidents in the country, including the 2007 Nisur Square massacre, in which at least 14 Iraqi civilians were killed by trigger-happy Blackwater guards. In 2009, a frustrated US Department of State refused to renew the company’s governmental contracts, after which Blackwater terminated its partnership with the US government (or did it?). What is perhaps less known about the company, now renamed to Academi LLC, is that it has for years been the subject of several investigations by US authorities for a host of criminal offences, ranging from selling secret plans to foreign governments to illicit weapons trafficking. According to court documents unsealed yesterday at the United States District Court in New Bern, North Carolina, Academi has agreed to pay $7.5 million to settle some of these charges. Under the agreement, the company has owned up to 17 different criminal violations with which it was charged after a five-year multi-agency federal investigation led by the Department of Justice. The charges include possessing unregistered fully automatic weapons in the US, illegally exporting encrypted satellite-telephone hardware to Sudan, training foreign nationals without a license, giving classified documents to foreign governments, as well as selling weapons to the Kingdom of Jordan without US government authorization and then lying about it to US federal firearms officials. Read more of this post

One third of Pakistani spy budget comes from CIA, say officials

ISI HQ

ISI HQ

By IAN ALLEN | intelNews.org |
As much as one third of the annual budget of Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence has come from the CIA in the last eight years, according to a new report in The Los Angeles Times. The paper says that even more US dollars have been supplied to the ISI through a secret CIA monetary rewards program that pays for the arrest or assassination of militants wanted by Washington. The payments reportedly began during the early years of the George W. Bush administration, and are now continuing under the Obama administration, despite “long-standing suspicions” that the ISI and the Pakistani military maintain close links with the Afghan Taliban and al-Qaeda operatives in Pakistan and elsewhere. Read more of this post

News you may have missed #0049

  • Return to court for ex-CIA station chief accused of rape. Andrew M. Warren has been free on bail since February of 2009, when he was unceremoniously recalled to the US from the CIA’s Algiers station. He is accused of having drugged and raped two Algerian women at his official residence. On Tuesday he was back at a federal courtroom in Washington for a status hearing.
  • Swedish spy threat at Cold War levels, claims report. A study by the Swedish Military Intelligence and Security Service (MUST), says spying on Sweden by “several countries, including those in our immediate surroundings” is “at the same level […] as during the Cold War”.
  • Former CIA station chief doubts Daniel Boyd story. Milt Bearden, former CIA station chief in Pakistan, doubts that Boyd, who was arrested along with seven others in North Carolina on domestic terrorism charges, ever saw action in Afghanistan, as stated by his prosecutors.

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