It turns out government use of private contractors went to a whole new level during the Bush Administration.
The New York Times is reporting that private military contractor Blackwater — recently renamed Xe Services — was part of the controversial Al Qaeda assasination program that the CIA kept from Congress.
NYT: The Central Intelligence Agency in 2004 hired outside contractors from the private security contractor Blackwater USA as part of a secret program to locate and assassinate top operatives of Al Qaeda, according to current and former government officials.
Executives from Blackwater, which has generated controversy because of its aggressive tactics in Iraq, helped the spy agency with planning, training and surveillance. The C.I.A. spent several million dollars on the program, which did not successfully capture or kill any terrorist suspects.
Leon Panetta, the C.I.A.’s director, has already ended the program and Blackwater’s role was eliminated when C.I.A. officials questioned the wisdom of using outsiders in an assassination operation. Still, Blackwater’s controversial past raises questions whatever role the firm played:
It is unclear whether the C.I.A. had planned to use the contractors to actually capture or kill Qaeda operatives, or just to help with training and surveillance in the program. American spy agencies have in recent years outsourced some highly controversial work, including the interrogation of prisoners. But government officials said that bringing outsiders into a program with lethal authority raised deep concerns about accountability in covert operations.
What a strange world we live in. The government is doing everything the private sector used to do–like run car companies and fund banks–while the private sector is going all those traditonally governmental tasks–like killing people and running jails.
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