Wired’s Danger Room November 21, 2012
Inside a compound in Kabul called Camp Integrity, the Pentagon stations a small group of officers to oversee the U.S. military’s various operations to curb the spread of Afghanistan’s cash crops of heroin and marijuana, which help line the Taliban’s pockets. Only Camp Integrity isn’t a U.S. military base at all. It’s the 10-acre Afghanistan headquarters of the private security company formerly known as Blackwater.
Those officers work for an obscure Pentagon agency called the Counter Narco-Terrorism Program Office, or CNTPO. Quietly, it’s grown into one of the biggest dispensers of cash for private security contractors in the entire U.S. government: One pile of contracts last year from CNTPO was worth more than $3 billion. And it sees a future for itself in Afghanistan over the long haul.
Earlier this month, a U.S. government solicitation sought to hire a security firm to help CNTPO “maintain a basic, operational support cell” in Kabul. Army Lt. Col. James Gregory, a Pentagon spokesman, explains that “cell” doesn’t kick in the doors of any Afghan narco-kingpins. It handles the more mundane tasks of overseeing the contracts of the Pentagon’s counter-narcotics programs, from “training and linguists, and [providing] supplies, such as vehicles and equipment.” The solicitation, however, indicates those services aren’t going anywhere: When all the options are exercised, the contract extends through September 29, 2015, over a year past the date when Afghan soldiers and cops are supposed to take over the war. And the “government preferred location” to base CNTPO? Camp Integrity.
The envisioned Pentagon counter-narco-terrorism staff is pretty small: only two to four personnel. But protecting them at Camp Integrity is serious business. The November 6 solicitation calls for a security firm that can “provide a secure armory and weapons maintenance service, including the ability to check-in and check-out weapons and ammunition,” particularly 9 mm pistols and M4 rifles; and to provide “secure armored” transportation to the CNTPO team — primarily “in and around Kabul, but could include some remote locations.”
CNTPO has a longstanding relationship with Blackwater, the infamous security firm that is now known as Academi. In 2009, it gave Blackwater a contract to train Afghan police, and company employees used that contract to requisition guns from the U.S. military for their private use. Although that contract was ultimately taken out of CNTPO’s hands, the office’s relationship with Academi/Blackwater endures. Last year, Academi told Danger Room it has a contract with CNTPO, worth an undisclosed amount, to provide “all-source intelligence analyst support and material procurement” for Afghanistan. An Academi spokeswoman, Kelley Gannon, declined to comment on Academi’s relationship with CNTPO, or whether it’ll bid on the new contract
TUESDAY, AUGUST 7, 2012 FBI Version
*_ACADEMI / BLACKWATER CHARGED AND ENTERS_*
*_DEFERRED PROSECUTION AGREEMENT_*__
RALEIGH, N.C. — U.S. Attorney Thomas G. Walker announced the unsealingof a bill of information and deferred prosecution agreement (DPA) involving Academi LLC, formerly known as Blackwater Worldwide and Xe Services, LLC (Academi / Blackwater). The bill of information and DPA were unsealed today in U.S. District Court in New Bern, N.C., during proceedings before the Honorable Louise W. Flanagan, U.S. District Judge. In the agreement, the company admits certain facts set forth in a bill of information and agrees to a $7.5 million fine. The agreement also acknowledges and references a $42 million settlement between the company and the Department of State as part of a settlement of
violations of the Arms Export Control Act and the International Trafficking in Arms Regulations.
“Today’s proceedings conclude a lengthy and complex investigation into a company which has provided valuable services to the United States Government, but which, at times, and in many ways, failed to comply with important laws and regulations concerning how we as a country interact with our international allies and adversaries,” said U.S. Attorney Walker. “Compliance with these laws is critical to the proper conduct of our defense efforts and to international diplomatic relations. This prosecution is an important step to ensuring that our corporate citizens comply with these rules in every circumstance.”
IRS-Criminal Investigation Special Agent in Charge Jeannine A. Hammett stated, “High-ranking corporate officials hold positions of trust not only in their companies but also in the eyes of the public. That trust is broken when such officials abuse their power and commit crimes to line their own pockets. An international fraud of this magnitude requires a coordinated effort among law enforcement agencies to stop those involved from profiting from their wrongdoing.”
“Compliance with the firearms laws of the United States in both domestic and international commerce is essential to maintaining order and accountability,” stated ATF Special Agent in Charge Wayne L. Dixie. “Whether it is an individual or a corporation, we will enforce the provisions of the federal gun laws equally. If violations are discovered, we will move to hold those responsible for the violations accountable for their actions.”
“Blackwater profited substantially from Department of Defense (DoD) contracts in support of overseas contingency operations over the past decade,” commented Special Agent in Charge John F. Khin, Southeast Field Office, Defense Criminal Investigative Service (DCIS). “This investigation showed that no contractor is above the law, and that all who do business with the DoD will be held accountable. With this agreement, Blackwater acknowledged their wrongdoing, and took steps to remedy and mitigate the damage they caused to the United States and the public trust.”
“For an extended period of time, Academi / Blackwater operated in a manner which demonstrated systemic disregard for U.S. Government laws and regulations. Today’s announcement should serve as a warning to others that allegations of wrongdoing will be aggressively investigated,” said Chris Briese, Special Agent in Charge of the Charlotte Division of the FBI.
“This company clearly violated U.S. laws by exporting sensitive technical data and unauthorized defense services to a host of countries around the world,” said Brock D. Nicholson, Special Agent in Charge of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Atlanta. “In doing so, company employees were frequently in possession of illegal firearms and aided other foreign nationals in the acquisition of illegal firearms. HSI is proud to have played a role in assisting the investigation to call this company to account for its actions.” Nicholson oversees HSI activities in Georgia and the Carolinas.
The government security contractor formerly known as Blackwater Worldwide has admitted to the key facts behind 17 federal criminal charges, including illegal exports and unauthorized possession of automatic weapons, as part of an effort to end a long-running investigation into the firm’s conduct.
Blackwater, now known as Academi LLC, agreed to pay a $7.5 million fine on top of a $42 million settlement it reached earlier regarding civil arms export violations.
“Today’s proceedings conclude a lengthy and complex investigation into a company which has provided valuable services to the United States Government, but which, at times, and in many ways, failed to comply with important laws and regulations concerning how we as a country interact with our international allies and adversaries,” U.S. Attorney Thomas Walker said in a statement. “Compliance with these laws is critical to the proper conduct of our defense efforts and to international diplomatic relations. This prosecution is an important step to ensuring that our corporate citizens comply with these rules in every circumstance.”
Some of the charges relate to Blackwater’s possession of machine guns at a training compound in North Carolina.
“ACADEMI is pleased to reach this important agreement on this legacy matter. It is yet another step in our commitment to fairly resolve past issues and become the industry leader in governance, compliance, and regulatory matters,” Academi spokesman John Procter said in a statement. “The agreement, which does not involve any guilty plea or admit to any violations, reflects the significant and tangible efforts that ACADEMI’s new ownership and leadership team have made in achieving that goal. The company is fully committed to this agreement and looks forward to successfully fulfilling its obligations on this legacy matter.”
More on the company’s deferred prosecution agreement here from the Associated Press.
RALEIGH, N.C. — The international security contractor formerly known as Blackwater has agreed to pay a $7.5 million fine to settle federal criminal charges related to arms smuggling and other crimes.
Documents unsealed Tuesday in a U.S. District Court in North Carolina said the company, now called Academi LLC, agreed to pay the fine as part of a deferred prosecution agreement to settle 17 violations.
The list includes possessing automatic weapons in the United States without registration, lying to federal firearms regulators about weapons provided to the king of Jordan, passing secret plans for armored personnel carriers to Sweden and Denmark and illegally shipping body armor overseas.
Federal prosecutors said it settles a long and complex case against the company, which has held billions in U.S. security contracts in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The Justice Department plans to bring a new indictment against four Blackwater Worldwide guards involved in a 2007 shooting that killed 17 Iraqis.
U.S. District Judge Ricardo Urbina had thrown out the case in 2009, but an appeals court reinstated the charges last year.
Urbina, who has since retired, said prosecutors built their case on sworn statements the guards had given under a promise of immunity.
A Justice Department attorney told Judge Royce Lamberth on Wednesday that a special team will ensure that prosecutors working on the new indictment don’t have access to “privileged statements.” Prosecutors say they will seek a superseding indictment after gathering additional evidence.
The guards are accused of opening fire in a crowded Baghdad intersection in 2007.
The Virginian Pilot June 25, 2012
Academi plans to build a 235-bed lodge at its Moyock, N.C.,-based compound with plans to expand operations where it trains military and law enforcement personnel how to shoot better under stress, protect officials from terrorist attacks, and storm criminal hideouts, among other things.
The $3.2 million lodge is the largest expansion of facilities on the 7,000-acre compound in at least four years. It comes after a tumultuous period during which the company name changed twice and management rolled over.
Formerly known as Blackwater, Academi is the largest taxpayer in Camden County. With about 250 workers on site, it also is the largest private employer in the county, where most its facilities are based.
AOL Defense June 8, 2012
Last month, apparently without attracting any public attention (until now), they quietly bought another security firm, International Development Solutions, and took over its piece of the State Department’s $10 billion World Protective Services contract, which then-Blackwater got kicked out of years ago.
And ACADEMI plans on further acquisitions, CEO Ted Wright confirmed in an exclusive interview with AOL Defense.
The company has spent a year rebuilding and is set to grow again, said Wright, who took over in June 2011. (He was hired by a new ownership team that bought out Blackwater founder Erik Prince the previous December). “The things we said we were going to do a year ago, we’ve kind of done,” said Wright, just back from visiting employees in Afghanistan.
Since he started, the company has not only a new name but a new management team, a new board of directors — in fact it didn’t even have a board before — and a new corporate headquarters in Arlington, looking across the Potomac River straight at the headquarters of the State Department. Many of the employees doing security work in the field are new, Wright said, and the core of ACADEMI’s business, its training cadre, has turned over almost completely: Only about 10 instructors remain from the old days, compared to 30 new hires, with another 20 on the way.
Another Defense Base Act PTSD failure.
McIntosh took his own life in February in Harlingen, Texas. He was 35
Doug Robinson at Deseret News June 5, 2012
Dale McIntosh stands with children in Central America. McIntosh did private security work in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Dale McIntosh was no stranger to death. When it wasn’t everywhere around him, it was a constant threat, something that kept him literally looking over his shoulder for months at a time.
A former Marine, he hired himself out as a privately contracted bodyguard in the Middle East, where he lived on the edge and saw and did things so terrible that it haunted him. He survived firefights, ambushes, exploding cars, road mines, snipers and rocket-propelled grenades. In the end, he escaped without any wounds, or at least none we could see.
When he returned, he seemed to be the Dale that his friends remembered — charming, gregarious, warm, outgoing — but inside, he was hurting and disturbed. McIntosh brought demons home with him.
In 2006, I wrote a lengthy profile about McIntosh, then a student at Westminster who took time off from his studies to pursue quick money and an adrenaline fix in Iraq and Afghanistan. This is the postscript: McIntosh took his own life in February in Harlingen, Texas. He was 35
After graduating from Utah State, Dale served five years in the Marines — part of it in special ops — but felt unfulfilled because he never saw action. He compared it to being an athlete who never got in the game. Eager to use his military skills and see action, he signed on to do private security work. At the time, there was a big demand for security firms, the most famous and controversial of which was Blackwater. With a shortage of manpower, the U.S. government hired the firms to protect American interests and personnel in the Middle East. They were largely ungoverned by law, which did not make them popular at home or abroad. McIntosh spent six months in Afghanistan, five months in Iraq, two months in Bosnia and then another two months in Iraq before returning to Utah in the fall of 2005.
Doug Robinson has written at length about his friend Dale. Please read the entire story here
James Vicini Rueters June 4, 2012
Supreme Court on Monday rejected an appeal by four Blackwater Worldwide security guards who argued prosecutors made improper use of their statements to investigators in charging them with killing 14 Iraqi civilians in 2007.
The justices refused to review a ruling by a U.S. appeals court in Washington, D.C., that reinstated the criminal charges against the guards for their roles in the Baghdad shooting that outraged Iraqis and strained ties between the two nations.
The shooting occurred as the guards, U.S. State Department security contractors, escorted a heavily armed four-truck convoy of U.S. diplomats through the Iraqi capital on September 16, 2007.
The guards, U.S. military veterans, responded to a car bombing when gunfire erupted at a busy intersection. The guards told State Department investigators they opened fire in self-defense, but prosecutors said the shooting was an unprovoked attack on civilians.
Several other lawsuits filed by Contractor Employers will expose the extent to which Civilian Contractors were actually working for the CIA and the State Department in capacities that are not known to the public.
It is known that Ronco Consulting has worked for/with the CIA via the State Department .
Blackwater/Academi has banked more than $2 billion from security and training contracts with various federal agencies, including the CIA, since 2002. Several former CIA officials later went to work for the company.
Five ex-Blackwater executives, facing federal firearms charges in connection with a gift of weaponry to a Middle Eastern monarch, have come up with a new explanation for how it occured:
It was a CIA operation.
In court papers filed last month in Raleigh, the defendants say the gift of five guns to King Abdullah II of Jordan during a royal visit to Blackwater’s Moyock, N.C., headquarters in March 2005 was requested, directed and authorized by the Central Intelligence Agency.
Attorneys for the five have filed declarations from two retired CIA officials, including a former Jordan station chief, who say they are familiar with the circumstances of the king’s visit and would be willing to testify about it.
The CIA did not respond to a request for comment.
It’s a new wrinkle in a case that dates to April 2010, when the five security company executives were indicted on a variety of felony firearms charges. One key section of the indictment involved King Abdullah’s 2005 visit to Moyock, during which the monarch was presented a Bushmaster M4 rifle, a Remington shotgun and three Glock handguns.
Law Offices of Scott J Bloch May 23, 2012
WASHINGTON, DC (May 23, 2012) – Blackwater Industries, which changed its name to Xe Services, and now has changed it yet again to Academi LLC, lost its initial bid to have the $240 million suit for employee misclassification sent to arbitration and dismissed from federal court in Washington, D.C.
Scott Bloch filed an amended complaint (see link above) in the class action lawsuit on behalf of four former security specialists, who were injured while working for Blackwater, in order to recover their payment of social security, unemployment insurance, and unpaid benefits and state and local withholding and unemployment insurance, and other unspecified damages. The action seeks $240,000,000 in damages for lost benefits, overtime, treble damages and punitive damages, as well as additional amounts as proved for the class of specialists.
The court has rejected that motion filed by Blackwater and required it to file another motion to determine if the same Plaintiffs agreed to have an arbitrator determine if the agreements were unconscionable, procured by duress, fraud and undue influence.
“Blackwater acted illegally and unconscionably toward these brave individuals,” said Bloch. ”Through their fraud as pointed out in the Amended Complaint, they avoided overtime for security workers who worked sometimes 12-16 hours a day 6 days a week. They were forced to sign agreements they never read and were not given time to read and not given copies, which took away valuable rights and were unlawful in their terms. Now the court has rejected their initial motion and required Blackwater to seek the same relief if they can prove that the Plaintiffs who never were allowed to read the original agreements agreed to have an arbitrator determine whether they properly agreed to anything. We continue to assert the illegality of the agreements and the actions of Blackwater.”
International Business Times March 8, 2012
The press agency of Lebanon’s Hezbollah movement charged Wednesday that the CIA, Israel’s Mossad and private security firms have been exposed supporting Syrian rebels in Homs.
Al-Manar, a channel linked to the Shi’ite militia Hezbollah — a close ally of the Assad regime in Syria — asserted that 700 Arab and Western gunmen along with Israeli, American and European-made weapons were seized in the rebellious Homs neighborhood of Baba Amro when government forces overwhelmed and routed the rebel Free Syrian Army last weekend. It said mercenaries of Xe Services LL, formerly known as Blackwater, and Academi were also apprehended
The site quoted one predicting: “Huge and critical surprises will be uncovered in the coming few days, such as the kinds of arms seized, as well as the military tactics the armed groups follows, and the sides that supervised the operations.”
Salim Harba, a Syrian security expert, told Al-Manar that “a coordination office was established in Qatar under American-Gulf sponsorship. The office includes American, French, and Gulf — specifically from Qatar and Saudi Arabia — intelligence agents, as well as CIA, Mossad, and Blackwater agents and members of the Syrian Transitional Council.”
He added, “Qatar had also made deals with Israeli and American companies to arm the armed groups, and Gulf countries have been financing the agreements.”
WAVY March 1, 2012
MOYOCK, N.C. It’s new name is ACADEMI . However, many know it as the company formally called Blackwater USA.
ACADEMI’s new owner wants to portray the company in a different light. In a direction, they claim, of more transparency.
For the first time since the change of command, only 10 On Your Side was invited behind the gates of the ACADEMI training center in Moyock, North Carolina.
At first glance the vast land is quiet and serene.
There’s a meditation garden with a short path winding around a simple pond. At the garden’s entrance stands a child embracing the American flag. The silent symbolism is powerful.
Mixed within the beautiful landscape are occasional bursts of gunfire. You also hear the squeal of car tires. Both are a reminder it’s work as usual during WAVY.com’s visit.
On the track, head driving instructor Craig Stephens explained the importance of driving techniques. “I can use this car to save my life. And that’s what I basically train the guys here for,” Stephens said.
The property consists of 7,000 acres sprawled across the border of North Carolina’s Camden and Currituck counties. Parts of it looks like a giant playground, a ropes course with a zip line and slide. There’s also a track where high speed turns are perfected.
Every facility serves a specific purpose, often rooted in some past tragedy. There’s a mock town with a church and high school, which was built to train for and respond to massacres like Columbine and Virginia Tech.
The ACADEMI contractors are mostly former members of the military and police force. They venture into conflict zones to protect American dignitaries. Their biggest client is the U.S. State Department