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Archive for December 18th, 2010

Officials: CIA station chief pulled from Islamabad

Posted by Admin on December 18, 2010

The flag of Afghanistan between 1997-2001, dis...

Former Flag of Afghanistan showing the Shahadah

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20101217/ap_on_go_ot/us_pakistan_cia

WASHINGTON – The CIA has pulled its top spy out of Pakistan after terrorists threatened to kill him, current and former U.S. officials said, an unusual move for the U.S. and a complication on the front lines of the fight against al-Qaida.

The CIA station chief was in transit Thursday after a Pakistani lawsuit earlier this month accused him of killing civilians in missile strikes.

The lawsuit listed a name for the station chief, but The Associated Press has learned the name is not correct. The AP is not publishing the station chief’s name because he remains undercover and his name is classified.

CIA airstrikes from unmanned aircraft have killed terrorist leaders but have led to accusations in Pakistan that the strikes kill innocent people. The U.S. does not acknowledge the missile strikes, but there have been more than 100 such attacks this year — more than double the amount in 2009.

The lawsuit blew the American spy’s cover, leading to threats against him and forcing the U.S. to call him home, the officials said, speaking on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the issue.

“Our station chiefs routinely encounter major risk as they work to keep America safe, and they’ve been targeted by terrorists in the past,” CIA spokesman George Little said. “They are courageous in the face of danger, and their security is obviously a top priority for the CIA, especially when there’s an imminent threat.”

The Pakistani lawsuit also named CIA Director Leon Panetta and Defense Secretary Robert Gates.

Demonstrators in the heart of the capital have carried placards bearing the officer’s name as listed in the lawsuit and urging him to leave the country.

Shahzad Akbar, the lawyer bringing the case, said he got the name listed in the lawsuit from local journalists. He said he included the name because he wanted to sue a CIA operative living within the jurisdiction of the Islamabad court.

A Pakistani intelligence officer said the country’s intelligence service, the ISI, knew the identity of the stationchief, but had “no clue” how the name listed in the lawsuit was leaked.

The officer spoke on condition of anonymity because his agency, like many around the world, does not allow its operatives to be named in the media.

The CIA’s work is unusually difficult in Pakistan, one of the United States’ most important and at times frustrating counterterrorism allies.

The station chief in Islamabad operates as a secret general in the U.S. war against terrorism. He runs the Predator drone program targeting terrorists, handles some of the CIA’s most urgent and sensitive tips and collaborates closely with Pakistan’s ISI, one of the most important relationships in the spy world.

Almost a year ago seven CIA officers and contractors were killed when a suicide bomber attacked a CIA base in Khost, Afghanistan. Six other agency officers were wounded in the attack, one of the deadliest in CIA history.

It’s rare for a CIA station chief to see his cover blown. In 1999, an Israeli newspaper revealed the identity of the station chief in Tel Aviv. In 2001, an Argentine newspaper printed a picture of the Buenos Aires station chief and details about him. In both instances, the station chiefs were recalled to the U.S.

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Associated Press writer Chris Brummitt in Islamabad contributed to this report.

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Former Blackwater bought by investment group

Posted by Admin on December 18, 2010

Blackwater Worldwide's new company logo--refer...

Blackwater now Renamed Xe Services

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20101217/ap_on_bi_ge/us_blackwater_sale

Erik Prince

AP – FILE – In this July 2008 file photo, Erik Prince, founder and CEO of then Blackwater Worldwide, now called Xe Services

RALEIGH, N.C. – An investment group with ties to the founder of the company formerly known as Blackwater announced Friday that it has bought the security firm, which was heavily criticized for its contractors’ actions in Iraq.

USTC Holdings said in a statement that the acquisition of the company now called Xe Services includes its training facility in North Carolina.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed. But the statement said owner and founder Erik Prince will no longer have an equity stake and no longer be involved in Xe’s management or operations. The company will be managed by a board appointed by the equity holders and will include independent, unaffiliated directors, the statement said.

Prince founded the company in 1997 along with former colleagues from the Navy SEALs.

The ownership group is led by two private equity firms, including New York-based Forte Capital Advisors. Forte managing partner Jason DeYonker has been a longtime financial adviser to Prince, helping him expand the Moyock, N.C., training grounds and negotiating Blackwater’s first training contracts with the U.S. government.

“The future of this industry belongs to those companies with the highest standards of governance, transparency, and performance,” DeYonker said.

Xe announced in June that it was seeking a buyer. At the time, Prince said selling the company was a difficult decision, but constant criticism of Xe helped him make up his mind.

“Performance doesn’t matter in Washington, just politics,” he said.

In August, Prince moved to Abu Dhabi.

The private company became famous as Blackwater, which provided guards and services to the U.S. government in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere. It became one of the most respected defense contractors in the world, but also attracted sharp criticism over its role in those missions.

It has been trying to rehabilitate its image since a 2007 shooting in Baghdad that killed 17 people, outraged the Iraqi government and led to federal charges against several Blackwater guards. The accusations later were thrown out of court after a judge found prosecutors mishandled evidence.

In March, Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl Levin suggested the Pentagon should consider banning Xe from a $1 billion deal to train Afghan police. The Michigan Democrat said he thought the company’s involvement was hindering the U.S. mission in Afghanistan.

Earlier this year, Xe sold its aviation division for $200 million to Wood Dale, Ill.-based AAR Corp. Also, five former executives, including Gary Jackson, the company’s ex-president, were indicted on charges of conspiring to violate federal firearms laws. Jackson was among the top officials who left the company last year in a management shake-up.

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