Port Vila, Vanuatu (PressExposure) August 31, 2009 -- More than $400 million in contracts is still being honoured to the private security company known as Blackwater, by the U.S. State Department. Blackwater operates some of the U.S.â most sensitive operations and protects some of its most important assets.
It has been revealed this week, by government officials, plus current and former Blackwater employees, that the company is engaged in the United Statesâ most important counter-terrorism program: the use of remotely piloted drones (UAVs) to assassinate Al Qaeda leaders.
With a two-year $217 million contract Blackwater continues to supply aviation services to diplomats in Iraq. This contract expires on Sept 3rd. âThe work would be given to another security and logistics company, DynCorp International,â said Ian C. Kelly, spokesman for the State Department.
There is also a 2011 contract, worth $210 million, to supply personnel and security to American diplomats in Afghanistan. Blackwater will also be paid $6 million for a three-year contract, to train foreign security guards in anti terrorism tactics, in a remote camp in North Carolina.
The overstretched military and spy service are well known for having to outsource some of their most vital jobs, including the collection of intelligence in foreign countries, working with foreign agents and covert programs.
"I certainly am of the mind that we should, insofar as possible, reduce our dependence. Whether we can go all the way to banning them, under current circumstances, seems unlikely", said Secretary of State, Hilary Rodham Clinton, who has pledged to reduce the U.S.'s dependency on private security contractors.
Government officials have estimated that approximately 25 % of the intelligence workforce is made up of contractors and up to 70 % of the entire intelligence budget goes to outside contractors.
It would be costly for the government to terminate its contracts with Blackwater, without cause, revealed a senior department official. One of the contracts does not expire until 2011.
Following a shooting in Baghdad, where 17 civilians were killed, the U.S. State Department requires Blackwater contractors to undergo âAfghan cultural awarenessâ training.
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