Ex-CIA Official May Refuse To Testify About Videotapes

Not just any former CIA official but the head of clandestine operations such as rendition, waterboarding, torture, kidnapping and murder, all in the name of “the war on terror”.

A former CIA official at the center of the controversy over destroyed interrogation videotapes has been blocked by Justice Department officials from gaining access to government records about the incident, according to sources familiar with the case.

Federal Judge Won’t Review Destruction Of CIA Videotapes
Thursday, Jan. 10 at 12:30 p.m. ET: National Security and Intelligence
The former official, Jose Rodriguez Jr., has also told the House intelligence committee through a letter from his attorney that he will refuse to testify next week about the tapes unless he is granted immunity from prosecution for his statements, the sources said.

The panel has issued a subpoena for Rodriguez, the former chief of clandestine operations who issued the order to destroy the videotapes in 2005. He and other former CIA officials are also being blocked from gaining access to documents about the incident, sources said.

9/11 and the incompetence excuse: Could a bunch of sociopathic screw-ups really pull off the crime of the century?

By Warren Pease
Online Journal Contributing Writer


Jan 9, 2008, 00:18

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Many who deny government complicity in 9/11/01 maintain that some of the best evidence against official involvement in the crime of the century lies in the Bush administration’s unbroken record of sheer incompetence, an argument bolstered by the perception that key members of the administration, notably The Commander Guy, spent that entire day running around like headless chickens.

On the contrary, they did no such thing. Rather, the administration was highly competent and enormously successful that day — they just had different criteria for success than would sane people. And they’ve been highly competent ever since. You just have to adjust your standards for evaluating success, then view the past six years through the PNAC/neocon lens. Let’s review some of their primary accomplishments — on 9/11 and in the six eternal years since:

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Vengeance, Blackwater Style: US Military and Western Mainstream Media trying to conceal War Crimes committed in Fallujah


Every time I read a story published in Western mainstream media about what transpired in Fallujah in 2004 during two US assaults on the city I feel sick.

The evidence proving that the United States committed war crimes, slaughtering innocent men, women and children is irrefutable. The US military’s use of chemical weapons is irrefutable. The destruction of a city amounting to collective punishment is irrefutable. All of this occurred because four Blackwater mercenaries were killed by Iraqis who were trying to protect their city form what we now know as “America’s Private Army”.

I have tried to understand why Western mainstream media has remained complicit in its coverage and reporting of this event, and I believe I have found the answer.

Yesterday, The Washington Times reported that “a secret intelligence assessment of the first battle of Fallujah shows that the U.S. military thinks that it lost control over information about what was happening in the town, leading to ‘political pressure’ that ended its April 2004 offensive with control being handed to Sunni insurgents.” This propaganda piece continues to state that “the decision to order an immediate assault on Fallujah, in response to the televised killing of four contractors from the private military firm Blackwater, effectively prevented the Marine Expeditionary Force charged with retaking the town from carrying out ‘shaping operations,’ such as clearing civilians from the area, which would have improved their chances of success.”

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A soldiers perspective on the war in Iraq

Sharp End International. Spy alert.

While it is save to assume that, if you run a blog critical of the official 9/11 conspiracy theory, you will be on a watch list and the site will be monitored, and it would be dangerously naive to assume you can write about or investigate Blackwater or other creepy private military organisations without them finding out, it is not common to find out who does the monitoring. And while we thought we were relatively safe, doing all this from a country that seemingly has all it’s civil rights firmly secured, it seems that the monitoring is done by a group that brings the threat these private contractors pose for all of us much closer to home that we find comfortable.

This morning as we checked the usage of the site, as we do every morning, we found something strange.
Wordpress lets you see which sites referred people onto your site, and lets you go back through those sites by clicking on the hyperlink.
In other words, someone puts a link to your site much as we link people trough to the sites of the articles we choose to publish.
Nothing strange in that. We sometimes click on those links to see what site has linked onto our one. If it’s an interesting site we make it part of the blog roll or read what people have to say. The links are generally made by people who agree with what they find here and want to share it on forums with their mates.

So it was somewhat surprising to find that one of the referrals was made from a private military contractor site called; Sharp End International.
What made it down right unnerving was the fact that there was no link on the page we connected too.

In other words the referrer wasn’t actually referring since there was no link.

A quick Google led me to a wikipedia entry about the company which apparently trains government and corporate entities. And this is were it gets down right scary. The company uses mostly Australian and New Zealand ex-special forces instructors and it is New Zealand were this site comes from.

Additionally; one of the photos used to promote the sites clearly shows Bremer III the “viceroy” of Iraq responsible for it’s destruction in the early days of the occupation. Paul Bremer the III was guarded not by Sharp End International but by Erik Princes Blackwater USA.
In fact it shows one of the Blackwater guys right behind Bremer.
And this is were we come close to drawing the line as this site is dedicated to 9/11 truth and the possible connection of Erik Prince with the traitors who are really responsible for the horrors of that day.

The same Wiki entry claims that the main customers of SEI are petroleum companies, mining facilities, financial institutions, corporate identities or celebrities.
While we are so not interested in celebrities all the other clients are very much on our watch list.
In fact the two other blogs we run are http://aotearoaawiderperspective.wordpress.com and http://kasm.wordpress.com. The first one is about international finance and its connection to John Key the rich banker turned politician and the leader of the opposition party of New Zealand and the second one is about Kiwis against seabed mining.

We will investigate further and in the mean time please be carefull, and above all; be warned.

Blackwater critics to Pentagon: Don’t say we didn’t warn you

Defense and legal experts issued two years worth of warnings to the Pentagon about its heavy reliance on Blackwater Worldwide and other private security firms in Iraq — and watched as the Defense Department continued to expand its use of the contractors, according to a new report.In a series of memos, letters and in-person meetings with high-level officials in the US and Iraq, critics had warned of a “lack of control” over the private guards, writes the the Washington Post‘s Steve Fainaru. But despite a growing number of incidents in which Blackwater employees allegedly shot and killed Iraqi civilians, the US government was slow to act.

“We set this thing up for failure from the beginning,” a retired Marine colonel who advised Iraqi military forces in 2004 told the Post. “We’re just sorting it out now…I still think, from a pure counterinsurgency standpoint, armed contractors are an inherently bad idea, because you cannot control the quality, you cannot control the action on the ground, but you’re held responsible for everything they do.”

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Ok one more; Disputed in Iraq, Blackwater Now Splits California Town

Lenny Ignelzi/Associated Press

A sign addresses the recall on members of the planning board in Potrero, Calif.

More Articles by Solomon Moore”>SOLOMON MOORE

Published: December 11, 2007

POTRERO, Calif. — The scandal in Iraq involving
the private security firm, is a world away from this tiny town near the Mexican border. But five members of the community’s planning group are expected to lose their posts on Tuesday for approving a Blackwater training camp on an old chicken farm here.

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Blackwater’s Bu$ine$$

By Jeremy Scahill

Gunning down seventeen Iraqi civilians in an incident the military has labeled “criminal.” Multiple Congressional investigations. A federal grand jury. Allegations of illegal arms smuggling. Wrongful death lawsuits brought by families of dead employees and US soldiers. A federal lawsuit alleging war crimes. Charges of steroid use by trigger-happy mercenaries. Allegations of “significant tax evasion.” The US-installed government in Iraq labeling its forces “murderers.” With a new scandal breaking practically every day, one would think Blackwater security would be on the ropes, facing a corporate meltdown or even a total wipeout. But it seems that business for the company has never been better, as it continues to pull in major federal contracts. And its public demeanor grows bolder and cockier by the day.

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Blackwater probe narrows focus to guards

WASHINGTON – Federal prosecutors investigating the shooting deaths of 17 Iraqi civilians have narrowed their focus on as few as three Blackwater Worldwide bodyguards and have given others immunity for cooperating in the case, The Associated Press has learned.

New information about the deadly Sept. 16 incident, which has strained relations between the United States and Iraq, reflects progress by the government to prosecute Blackwater guards for the shooting in Baghdad’s Nisoor Square.

A final decision on whether to prosecute the guards – and how many – may still be months away. But two weeks into a federal grand jury investigation, people close to the case told AP that authorities have focused the number who could face charges to about three of the dozen or more guards on the security detail.

Despite the progress, the people who discussed the case noted concerns about testimony given by the four Blackwater guards who have so far appeared in front of the secret panel. Details were discussed on condition of anonymity because of the sensitive nature of the information.

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US official in Blackwater probe quits

WASHINGTON, Dec 7 (Reuters) – U.S. State Department Inspector General Howard Krongard, under scrutiny for his brother’s link to the Blackwater security firm, has decided to resign, U.S. officials said on Friday.Krongard, the State Department’s top investigator, has been accused by current and former subordinates of thwarting probes into waste, fraud and abuse in Iraq, including alleged arms smuggling by Blackwater.

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Cheney’s Gestapo pushes for Potrero Base

The fires that ravaged California earlier this year started near Potrero, now Blackwater is suggesting that the fires would have been easier to control if they had had their Base in Potrero. MAny locals opppose the Base but it seems if Blackwater USA wants something it ussualy get’s it.(Travellerev) 

Randel Parks pushed his hands into the pockets of his jeans and rocked back on the heels of his cowboy boots. “I’ve been here 30 years,” he said, staring at the ground, “and I’ve spent most of my adult life working on this property, turning it into my piece of paradise. I’ll be damned if I’m going to let them spoil it.” A mile away, around a bend in the mountain road that runs past Parks’s property, his new neighbours spread a map out on the ground to discuss plans for the 325-hectare (800-acre) site they are in the process of buying. “There will be eight 100-yd carbine ranges here, and three 50-yd pistol ranges here. And we’ll have a 10,000-sq ft armoury and a bunkhouse for 360 students over here.”

Welcome to Blackwater West, the latest expansion from the company that dominates private security operations in Iraq. Last month Blackwater’s chief executive, Erik Prince, appeared before Congress to defend the company’s role in the alleged shootings of unarmed civilians. This week, reports alleged that it had turned a blind eye to the use of steroids among its employees.

Now the company is looking to expand domestically. So it has come to the border hamlet of Potrero, population 850. Eight miles from Mexico and 40 miles inland from San Diego, Potrero has found itself at the centre of a controversy.

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Witnesses testify in Blackwater lawsuit

WASHINGTON – A federal grand jury investigating Blackwater Worldwide heard witnesses Tuesday as a private lawsuit accused the government contractor’s bodyguards of ignoring orders and abandoning their posts shortly before taking part in a Baghdad shooting that left 17 Iraqi civilians dead.Filed this week in U.S. District Court in Washington, the civil complaint also accuses North Carolina-based Blackwater of failing to give drug tests to its guards in Baghdad – even though an estimated one in four of them was using steroids or other “judgment altering substances.”

A Blackwater spokeswoman said Tuesday its employees are banned from using steroids or other enhancement drugs but declined to comment on the other charges detailed in the 18-page lawsuit.

The lawsuit was filed Monday on behalf of five Iraqis who were killed and two who were injured during the Sept. 16 shooting in Baghdad’s Nisoor Square. The shootings enraged the Iraqi government, and the Justice Department is investigating whether it can bring criminal charges in the case, even though the State Department promised limited immunity to the Blackwater guards.

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Baghdad Bonanza

KBR, Inc., the global engineering and construction giant, won more than $16 billion in U.S. government contracts for work in Iraq and Afghanistan from 2004 to 2006—far more than any other company, according to a new analysis by the Center for Public Integrity. In fact, the total dollar value of contracts that went to KBR—which used to be known as Kellogg, Brown, and Root and until April 2007 was a subsidiary of Halliburton—was nearly nine times greater than those awarded to DynCorp International, a private security firm that is No. 2 on the Center’s list of the top 100 recipients of Iraq and Afghanistan reconstruction funds.

Another private security company, Blackwater USA, whose employees recently killed as many as 17 Iraqi civilians in what the Iraqi government alleges was an unprovoked attack, is 12th on the list of companies and joint ventures, with $485 million in contracts. (On November 14, the New York Times reported that FBI investigators have concluded that 14 of the 17 shootings were unjustified and violated deadly-force rules in effect for security contractors in Iraq, and that Justice Department prosecutors are weighing whether to seek indictments.) First Kuwaiti General Trading & Contracting, which immediately precedes Blackwater on the Top 100, came under fire in July after a pair of whistleblowers told a House committee that the company essentially “kidnapped” low-paid foreign laborers brought in to help build the new U.S. embassy in Baghdad. First Kuwaiti and the U.S. State Department denied the charges.

Other key findings from the Center’s analysis:

Blackwater probe stifled by conflicts

WASHINGTON – The State Department’s acerbic top auditor wasn’t happy when Justice Department officials told one of his aides to leave the room so they could discuss a criminal investigation of Blackwater Worldwide, the contractor protecting U.S. diplomats in Iraq.The episode reveals the badly strained relationship between Bush administration officials over the probe into whether Blackwater smuggled weapons into Iraq that could have gotten into insurgents’ hands.

As a result of the bureaucratic crosscurrents between State’s top auditor and Justice, the investigation has been bogged down for months.

A key date was July 11, when Howard Krongard, State’s inspector general, sent an e-mail to one of his assistant inspector generals, telling him to “IMMEDIATELY” stop work on the Blackwater investigation. That lead to criticisms by Democrats that Krongard has tried to protect Blackwater and block investigations into contractor-related wrongdoing in Iraq.

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State IG’s brother quits Blackwater

Saturday November 17, 2007 12:31 AM
By RICHARD LARDNER

Associated Press Writer

WASHINGTON (AP)- The brother of embattled State Department Inspector General Howard Krongard quit as an adviser to Blackwater Worldwide on Friday, two days after the relationship with the security contractor was sharply criticized by a congressional oversight committee.

Erik Prince, Blackwater’s top executive, said the conflict of interest questions raised by the connection prompted Alvin “Buzzy” Krongard to submit his resignation.

“I have reluctantly accepted it,” Prince said in a statement.

Alvin Krongard never received any payment for his work on Blackwater’s advisory board, which only met once, Prince said.

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Olberman on the Krongard scandal.

CBS: Blackwater notified ‘all immunities shall be cancelled’

An exclusive CBS report says that all private security firms in Iraq have been notified that “immunity from Iraqi law is about to end.” The Iraqi interior ministry sent a letter to security contractors explaining that a soon to be ratified Iraq law will remove legal immunities, originally granted by former Coalition Provisional Authority head L. Paul Bremer in 2004.

One contractor, distrustful of the Iraqi police, told CBS, “There’s no question it’s a disaster if this got passed.” American officials expect that the law will not be ratified.

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Blackwater Goes to Mexico.

By JOHN ROSS

If and when private security contractor Blackwater USA and its heavily-armed operatives are forced to pull out of Iraq as the result of the September 16th rampage in downtown Baghdad when its employees massacred up to 28 Iraqis, Mexico could be a profitable option for the North Carolina-based company.

Actually, Blackwater is almost in Mexico already. For months, the North Carolina-based corporation has been pressuring local San Diego officials to grant it an operating license for an 824-acre training site to be known as Blackwater West in Potrero California 45 miles east of that bustling port city but only six miles from the Tecate Mexico border crossing. The site, some of which snakes through the Cleveland National Forest, is a favored transit route for undocumented Mexican workers heading north and has been recently scorched by out-of-control wildfires.

Blackwater USA’s plans have drawn the ire of locals who are not happy about having 15 firing ranges in earshot and a coalition of homeowners, local farmers, environmentalists, and peaceniks has been pieced together to oppose the project. Nonetheless, Blackwater has kept up a full court press on county officials, even sailing the company yacht flying a humongous Blackwater flag, into a local marina last spring and inviting members of the planning commission aboard for cocktails.

Blackwater USA is attracted to the San Diego area because of the heavy concentration of military bases such as Camp Pendleton in the environs that could produce a windfall of security and training contracts from its pals in the Pentagon. Blackwater USA was founded by ex-Navy Seal Eric Prince who cultivates close ties with the military.

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Jeremy Scahill on Blackwater

I thought about boycotting Bill Maher but then I could not put this on the site so I caved, sorry.

Blackwater’s Owner Has Spies for Hire: Ex-U.S. Operatives Dot Firm’s Roster

First it became a brand name in security for its work in Iraq and Afghanistan. Now it’s taking on intelligence.

The Prince Group, the holding company that owns Blackwater Worldwide, has been building an operation that will sniff out intelligence about natural disasters, business-friendly governments, overseas regulations and global political developments for clients in industry and government.

The operation, Total Intelligence Solutions, has assembled a roster of former spooks — high-ranking figures from agencies such as the CIA and defense intelligence — that mirrors the slate of former military officials who run Blackwater. Its chairman is Cofer Black, the former head of counterterrorism at CIA known for his leading role in many of the agency’s more controversial programs, including the rendition and interrogation of al-Qaeda suspects and the detention of some of them in secret prisons overseas.

Its chief executive is Robert Richer, a former CIA associate deputy director of operations who was heavily involved in running the agency’s role in the Iraq war.

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