Blackwater Assumes Police Powers in Afghanistan – To Eliminate Rivals?

sarabeth at 1115 has dug out a rather astounding bit of news from an Associated Press story about yet another crooked Texas security contractor, this one doing business primarily in Afghanistan on a contract with USAID to provide security for construction sites and mine-clearing. The lede involves the usual folderol – accusations of over-billing in the $$Millions$$ and dubious hiring practices involving ex-militia – but deep into the story sarabeth caught this:

The American security official said agents from the private security firm Blackwater USA raided USPI’s Kabul office last month and seized computers and office files.

 

Hold on a second here. So a private contractor raided the offices of a rival private contractor and stole its records? Who gave it the authority to pretend it was the FBI? Is the USAID suddenly a law enforcement agency? Or did Blackwater do this on its own to get rid of a competitor? Either way, there’s no possible excuse for its actions.

But we’re not done yet. sarabeth, curious, did some more digging and came up with another AP story that added a fairly startling detail: units of the Afghan police provided security for Blackwater during the raid.

Afghan police provided security for the raid on the company, according to Paktiawal, and the U.S. official said Blackwater security teams took computers and office files. Two Afghan workers were taken into custody, and Blackwater held American and Canadian citizens at gunpoint, the official said.

(emphasis added)

What the hell is going on here? A private security company not only raids a rival and seizes its assets but it arrests two civilian Afghan workers and holds American and Canadian citizens at gunpoint? While the Afghan police protect them?

A little context would be helpful, and the AP has some: the Afghan govt may expel as many as 14 private contractors operating in the country.

Dozens of security companies also operate in Afghanistan, some of them well-known U.S. firms such as Blackwater and Dyncorp, but also many others that may not be known even to Afghan government.

Authorities on Tuesday closed the Afghan-run security firms Watan and Caps, where 82 illegal weapons were found during the two raids in Kabul, police Gen. Ali Shah Paktiawal said.

More companies ? “maybe 13, maybe 14” ? will be closed next week, including some whose employees may have committed murder or robberies, he said.

Security companies that guard Western embassies are among those firms, a Western security official said on condition he not be identified because of the sensitivity of the matter. He would not identify the companies.

***

The Western official would not say whether armed supporters of the anti-Taliban Northern Alliance were involved in that bloodshed, but said the incident drew attention to the lack of rules for security firms.

“Allegedly there were 10,000 guards, but in truth the Ministry of Interior had no idea who they were, who they were reporting to,” the official said.

The Interior Ministry says 59 Afghan and international security companies are registered, but the Western official said as many as 25 other firms could be operating in the country.

Some of the 59 registered firms are suspected of involvement in criminal activity such as killing and robbery, and the police are investigating those cases, Paktiawal said. He could not provide a breakdown of how many companies are Afghan and how many are foreign.

The Western official said there had been “a few” occasions in which security companies were accused of murder and that one firm “shut down and disappeared” after such an accusation.

So in the midst of this “crackdown” on private security firms, one of the politically best-connected of them suddenly goes after a competitor and, as if it had police powers in a foreign country, forcibly acquires that company’s billing records and its contracts containing information about what services it’s providing and to whom and for how much. This stinks of a govt-sponsored take-down to benefit Blackwater, and whether it’s the US govt, the Afghan govt, or both, no private security corporation has any business seizing assets and arresting people.

That Blackwater is acting way beyond its assigned role is bad enough, but that it appears to be doing so as a way of eliminating potential business rivals with the connivance of the US Embassy in Kabul is obscene. it reminds sarabeth of OJ’s recent raid.

It?s all very well for Blackwater to be hired to provide security, but by what stretch of imagination and law does their role extend to conducting raids on business premises in an independent, sovereign country? Not only conducting raids but seizing property. And holding American and Canadian citizens at gunpoint. Recently schooled in this aspect of the law, thanks to O.J. Simpson?s Las Vegas hotel shenanigans, I can confidently assert that that constitutes kidnapping. But they didn?t stop at the holding-at-gunpoint version of kidnapping. They actually took Afghan workers into custody.

***

So what we?re saying then is that the U.S. embassy ordered a raid on the business premises of USAID?s security contractor (in an independent, sovereign country). And they ordered their own private paramilitary force ?a very private company, as the Prince of Blackness was kind enough to remind us all ? to conduct the raid. In pursuance of said criminal contract, Blackwater USA then burst into USPI?s business premises (with guns drawn, just like O.J.?s goons), engaged in multiple acts of the holding-at-gunpoint version of kidnapping (just like O.J.?s goons) and decamped with property belonging to the person or persons in occupation of said premises (just like O.J.?s goons). And they went one better than O.J.?s goons ? as any paramilitary NGO would have to, just out of professional pride ? by kidnapping Afghan workers who were physically removed from the premises at gunpoint.

Apparently, the State Dept has just made Blackwater its private police force. If that doesn’t scare you, it should.

2 Responses to “Blackwater Assumes Police Powers in Afghanistan – To Eliminate Rivals?”

  1. Tim says:

    Blackwater provides armed escort for all federal officials leaving the American embassy in Kabul – they escorted federal law enforcement officers to USPI – they certainly had no part in the raid or a look at any of the items confiscated in that raid. If you really believe Blackwater can walk in and raid another company in Kabul (or anywhere else on the planet earth) you may need to borrow some brain cells my friend – this is the real world.
    Blackwater has a contract which specifies exactly what their duties and responsibilities are and if they step one foot outside the boundaries of that contract they can be fined heavily, lose the contract and lose the privilege of working on other Department of State contracts worldwide. Think they are going to risk all that to see what a second rate competitor like USPI is up to? Get a life mate.

  2. Concerned says:

    Finally someone that has common sense and a brain. What Tim said is exactly correct but the folks that wrote the little story above are absolutely clueless and more dangerous than anyone I have met in a Private Security Company. They are more dangerous because they will believe anything that is in print if it suits their agenda. Instead of trying to find the facts they latch on to whatever is printed then rank and rave about things they have absolutely no clue about. If they would take a little time to do some honest research then they would not have wasted their time printing useless information based on a poorly written and basically untrue AP article. I know because I watched the raid as it occurred.

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