State Secrets

CIA Death Squad Hired Blackwater

As if the CIA’s secret assassination program couldn’t get creepier: The New York Times reports that the intelligence agency’s program to seek and kill jihadists employed none other than infamous military contractor Blackwater. The CIA did not have a formal contract with Blackwater but used “individual agreements” with company heavyweights, including Blackwater founder Erik Prince. It is unclear whether the agency intended to pay Blackwater for assassinations and captures, or for help with training and surveillance. Senior CIA officials, apparently realizing that “assassin for hire” has a certain unsavory ring to it, ended Blackwater’s partnership in the assassination program years before Leon Panetta took over the agency. However, the Times reports that Blackwater’s involvement may have played a role in Panetta’s decision to come clean on the death squad. Last week, Joseph Finder suggested in The Daily Beast that Panetta had jumped the gun in disclosing the secret program to Congress.