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Sunday, September 06, 2009

CIA used Blackwater-linked mercenaries as journalists

By Wayne Madsen
Online Journal Contributing Writer

(WMR) -- The CIA used credentialed journalists to engage in counter-intelligence and counter-terrorism operations from 2003 to 2005.

WMR has learned that two individuals working as subcontractors to the CIA had significant links to Blackwater’s CIA-approved and sanctioned operations in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, and Iran. Both traveled with credentials issued by United Press International (UPI), the wire service owned by News World Communications, owned by South Korean cult leader Reverend Sun Myung Moon.

One of the contractor fake UPI journalists obtained a journalist visa from the Iranian Interests Section, which operates under the Pakistan embassy in Washington, to visit Tehran in 2003 and engaged in “target analysis and spotting” for a planned U.S. attack on Iran. The fake journalist also maintained close liaison with Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld’s office and officers of the Israeli Defense Force. The “reporter” also engaged in counter-intelligence/terrorism operations in the Pakistani northwest tribal border region with Afghanistan, as well as in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Another journalist covert agent operated in Afghanistan with not only a UPI credential but also a UPI tri-band international cell phone, which the individual used to run up a huge phone bill making phone calls from Afghanistan and other locations to the United States.

One of the CIA journalist agents also swept up intelligence on the knowledge possessed by various overseas officials about what they knew about the 9/11 attacks. These included Taliban, Northern Alliance, and Pashtun officials in Afghanistan, Pakistani Inter Service Intelligence (ISI) officers and mujaheddin elements once allied to the CIA during the Afghan war with the Soviet Union, Saudi government officials, and members of the neocon-linked Iraqi National Congress, including its leader Ahmad Chalabi.

Both faux journalists were also in Uzbekistan in the months following 9/11, ostensibly to cover the regional news from that country. However, the country was also a focal point for U.S. military activities in the region and, in 2005, Uzbek forces launched an attack against protesters in Andijan, killing up to 1,500 people. The government claimed the protesters were Islamic radicals but later admitted they were protesting poor economic conditions.

The CIA has long stressed that it does not use journalists as agents. However, the use of UPI-credentialed journalists in private military contractor covert operations puts to rest that stated policy.

Both journalists in question were veterans of the U.S. Special Forces and had close links to the headquarters of the U.S. Army Special Forces at Fort Bragg, North Carolina. Blackwater/Xe maintains a training facility at Moyock, North Carolina.

Over the past few days, the Associated Press has reported that the CIA used Blackwater contract assassins in other countries and there have been other reports that the firm used foreign mercenaries to carry out covert operations. The AP also quoted one former high-level CIA official as stating that the agency used Blackwater for hit teams because “you wouldn’t want to have American fingerprints on it.”

WMR has also learned that a Blackwater security operative infiltrated the presidential campaigns of former Democratic Senator Mike Gravel of Alaska and Representative Ron Paul (R-TX). The operative, who was permitted to carry loaded weapons at televised presidential debates featuring other candidates, including Secret Service-protected candidates Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, as well as Senators John McCain, Joe Biden, and Chris Dodd, Representative Dennis Kucinich, and former Governors Mitt Romney and Mike Huckabee, also served in Iraq and had close ties with the Israeli Defense Force. The Secret Service refused to interfere with the Blackwater employee’s access to the presidential candidates of both parties, claiming that whom presidential candidates chose to have as their personal security members was their business. The Blackwater employee also was permitted to fly on regularly-scheduled commercial flights with the loaded weapons.

The employee’s affiliations were not much of a secret as one source reported that he had a “huge Star of David” tattooed on his chest.

Previously published in the Wayne Madsen Report.

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