Washington, Dec. 11 (ANI): Agents from America's private security firm, Blackwater Worldwide, directly collaborated with CIA to carry out secret raids on suspected insurgents in Iraq and Afghanistan, and in the transporting of detainees, former company employees and intelligence officials have revealed.
Several former Blackwater guards said that their involvement in the operations became so routine during the period of 2004 to 2006 that the lines dividing the Central Intelligence Agency, the military and Blackwater became blurred.
"It was virtually continuous, and hundreds of guys were involved, rotating in and out over a period of several years," The New York Times quoted a former Blackwater manager as saying.
According to one former top C.I.A. officer, instead of simply providing security for C.I.A. officers, Blackwater personnel at times became partners in missions to capture or kill militants in Iraq and Afghanistan.
"It became a very brotherly relationship. There was a feeling that Blackwater eventually became an extension of the agency," said one former top C.I.A. officer," he said.
Former Blackwater security personnel also said they participated in secret flights transporting detainees around war zones.
"A group of individuals were selected who could manage detainees without the use of lethal force," said one former Blackwater guard who participated in one of the flights.
One former Blackwater guard recalled a meeting in Baghdad in 2004 in which Blackwater founder Erik Prince encouraged the Blackwater personnel "to do whatever it takes" to help the C.I.A. with the intensifying insurgency, the former guard recalled.
The secret practice raises questions about the use of guns for hire on the battlefield, but the CIA denies any unlawful collaboration with Blackwater.
"Contractors give you flexibility in shaping and managing your talent mix - especially in the short term - but the accountability's still yours," CIA spokesperson George Little said. (ANI)