[No Comment ]Black Ops for Hire | Harper's Magazine

Sign in to access Harper’s Magazine

Need to create a login? Want to change your email address or password? Forgot your password?

  1. Sign in to Customer Care using your account number or postal address.
  2. Select Email/Password Information.
  3. Enter your new information and click on Save My Changes.

Locked out of your account? Get help here.

Subscribers can find additional help here.

Not a subscriber? Subscribe today!

Get Access to Print and Digital for $23.99.
Subscribe for Full Access
Get Access to Print and Digital for $23.99.
[No Comment]

Black Ops for Hire


The black ops department of Blackwater (now Xe Services) specializes in the sorts of operations we normally associate with the CIA’s clandestine service and the Pentagon’s JSOC. Their principal clients may indeed be the CIA and JSOC, but it appears that increasingly they peddle their services to choice corporate clientele. Jeremy Scahill reports at The Nation:

Over the past several years, entities closely linked to the private security firm Blackwater have provided intelligence, training and security services to US and foreign governments as well as several multinational corporations, including Monsanto, Chevron, the Walt Disney Company, Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines and banking giants Deutsche Bank and Barclays, according to documents obtained by The Nation. Blackwater’s work for corporations and government agencies was contracted using two companies owned by Blackwater’s owner and founder, Erik Prince: Total Intelligence Solutions and the Terrorism Research Center (TRC). Prince is listed as the chairman of both companies in internal company documents, which show how the web of companies functions as a highly coordinated operation. Officials from Total Intelligence, TRC and Blackwater (which now calls itself Xe Services) did not respond to numerous requests for comment for this article.

One of the most incendiary details in the documents is that Blackwater, through Total Intelligence, sought to become the “intel arm” of Monsanto, offering to provide operatives to infiltrate activist groups organizing against the multinational biotech firm.

Governmental recipients of intelligence services and counterterrorism training from Prince’s companies include the Kingdom of Jordan, the Canadian military and the Netherlands police, as well as several US military bases, including Fort Bragg, home of the elite Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC), and Fort Huachuca, where military interrogators are trained, according to the documents. In addition, Blackwater worked through the companies for the Defense Intelligence Agency, the Defense Threat Reduction Agency and the US European Command.

All corporate majors today have acute security concerns—for the safety of their personnel, particularly executives, the movement of products, and their commercial operations. They also have a strong desire to know more about their competition and business partners, to help them avoid undesirable combinations and measure the risks in transactions they pursue. But the real question lurking in the background is, are the black ops vendors cross-selling services? Do the corporate clients expect to reap the benefit of U.S. government intelligence to which the contractor has access? That possibility is another reason that policy-makers in Washington should be cautious about using private companies in sensitive matters. The fact that such services could be cross-sold points to an acute failure of government oversight.

More from