German Arms Firm Ends Blackwater Deal After TV Report

Weapons manufacturer Heckler & Koch said it would end its relationship with Blackwater after German media reported that the controversial US-run military firm was using its guns in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Blackwater, a private security company which has been contracted to protect high-profile US officials and foreign dignitaries in Iraq, had been using Heckler & Koch machine guns in both Iraq and Afghanistan, German broadcaster ARD’s “Report Mainz” program reported Monday, Feb. 19.

The German arms manufacturer contacted the program shortly before the report was aired on Monday night and said it would cut all its ties to the US firm, according to “Report Mainz.”

The German company on its Web site described its work with Blackwater as a “unique and strategic partnership” in which the two firms were cooperating to develop “special edition” firearms and offer training courses in the United States to use Heckler & Koch weapons.

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Hayden Admits: Contractors Lead ‘Enhanced Interrogations’ at CIA Black Sites

Ciaprison In testimony before the Senate Select Intelligence Committee, Director of Central Intelligence Mike Hayden admitted to using contractors for “enhanced interrogation” at the CIA’s secret prisons, the so-called black sites.  It was an issue first raised last summer on The Spy Who Billed Me.  From Tuesday’s exchange:

FEINSTEIN:  I’d like to ask this question: Who carries out these [enhanced interrogation] techniques? Are they government employees or contractors?

HAYDEN: At our facilities during this, we have a mix of both government employees and contractors. Everything is done under, as we’ve talked before, ma’am, under my authority and the authority of the agency. But the people at the locations are frequently a mix of both — we call them blue badgers and green badgers.

FEINSTEIN: And where do you use only contractors?

HAYDEN: I’m not aware of any facility in which there were only contractors. And this came up…

FEINSTEIN: Any facility anywhere in the world?

HAYDEN: Oh, I mean, I’m talking about our detention facilities. I want to make something very clear, because I don’t think it was quite crystal clear in the discussion you had with Attorney General Mukasey.

Earlier, Senator Feinstein has asked Attorney General Mukasey whether the use of contractors in coercive interrogation techniques (i.e. enhanced interrogation techniques) is legal.  Specifically, Senator Feinstein asked:

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Showdown in Blackwater’s Backyard

Marshall Adame is a Democrat running for Congress in North Carolina’s 3rd District, a jurisdiction along the Tar Heel state’s low-lying eastern coast that is home to the U.S. Marine Corps’ Camp Lejeune, Air Station Cherry Point, and Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, as well as Blackwater Worldwide’s 7,000-acre corporate headquarters and training facility. Adame is an underdog in the congressional race, where he will likely face seven-term Republican incumbent Walter B. Jones—who brought the term “freedom fries” to Congress—in the general election. Jones has since become an opponent of the Iraq war, atoning for his vote to authorize the war by writing letters of condolence to the families of dead soldiers—a “mea culpa to my Lord,” he says. But the incumbent and his Republican party are not the only obstacles Adame will have to overcome if he hopes to take over the 3rd District’s congressional seat. He also faces tough opposition from Blackwater.

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Pioneering Blackwater Protesters Given Secret Trial and Criminal Conviction

The message to you the American citizen: Do not attack Blackwater Worldwide peacefully or otherwise.
The first secret courtcases against political activists in America have been and gone. The end game has begun.
 
Meet Blackwater; Cheneys Gestapo. The army of the New World Order.(travellerev)

By Jeremy Scahill.

Last week in Currituck County, N.C., Superior Court Judge Russell Duke presided over the final step in securing the first criminal conviction stemming from the deadly actions of Blackwater Worldwide, the Bush administration’s favorite mercenary company. Lest you think you missed some earth-shifting, breaking news, hold on a moment. The “criminals” in question were not the armed thugs who gunned down 17 Iraqi civilians and wounded more than 20 others in Baghdad’s Nisour Square last September. They were seven nonviolent activists who had the audacity to stage a demonstration at the gates of Blackwater’s 7,000-acre private military base in North Carolina to protest the actions of mercenaries acting with impunity — and apparent immunity — in their names and those of every American.

The arrest of the activists and the subsequent five days they spent locked up in jail is more punishment than any Blackwater mercenaries have received for their deadly actions against Iraqi civilians. “The courts pretend that adherence to the law is what makes for an orderly and peaceable world,” said Steve Baggarly, one of the protest organizers. “In fact, U.S. law and courts stand idly by while the U.S. military and private armies like Blackwater have killed, maimed, brutalized and destroyed the livelihoods of hundreds of thousands of Iraqis.”

U.S. Cannot Manage Contractors In Wars, Officials Testify on Hill

With even more U.S. contractors now in Iraq and Afghanistan than U.S. military personnel, government officials told Congress yesterday that the Bush administration is not prepared to manage the contractors’ critical involvement in the American war effort.

At the end of last September, there were “over 196,000 contractor personnel working for the Defense Department in Iraq and Afghanistan,” said Jack Bell, deputy undersecretary of defense for logistics and materiel readiness.

Contractors “have become part of our total force, a concept that DoD [the Defense Department] must manage on an integrated basis with our military forces,” he also said in prepared testimony for a hearing yesterday of the Senate homeland security subcommittee. “Frankly,” he continued, “we were not adequately prepared to address” what he termed “this unprecedented scale of our dependence on contractors.”

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US quietly demands Iraq give defense contractors, US military immunity from prosecution

US officials are dragooning Iraq into accepting immunity for US civilian contractors in new negotiations with the Iraqi government just months after a feud over a private defense contractor exploded into an international outcry.

The Bush administration insists that Baghdad give the US “broad authority to conduct combat operations and guarantee civilian contractors specific legal protections from Iraqi law, according to administration and military officials,” a front page story in Friday’s New York Times reports.

The Administration’s proposed security agreement would replace the current United Nations mandate authorizing the US presence in Iraq, which is set to expire Dec. 31, 2008.

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Blackwater dropped blinding tear gas on Iraqis, US soldiers in 2005

Blackwater security contractors employed in Iraq dropped a blinding riot-control gas on Iraqi civilians and US military personnel on a busy Baghdad street in May 2005, according to the reporter who first broke the NSA wiretapping scandal in the New York Times.”The copter dropped CS gas, a riot-control substance the American military in Iraq can use only under the strictest conditions and with the approval of top military commanders,” James Risen writes. “An armored vehicle on the ground also released the gas, temporarily blinding drivers, passers-by and at least 10 American soldiers operating the checkpoint.”

CS gas — 2-chlorobenzalmalononitrile — is among the most common tear gases used by law enforcement and militaries in conflict zones.

Use of CS gas in war is prohibited by the 1997 Chemical Weapons Convention (signed in 1993), as it could trigged retaliation with more toxic substances such as nerve gas. “A 1975 presidential order allows their use by the United States military in war zones under limited defensive circumstances and only with the approval of the president or a senior officer designated by the president,” the Times notes.

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