Olympics shambles firm G4S set to win call centre contract after MPs’ calls to blacklist it are ignored

MPs say decision is ‘unbelievable’ and they should be banned after London 2012 fiasco
G4S failed to recruit enough staff and more than 10,000 troops had to be drafted in at the last minute
Bosses say decision proves Government recognises they can ‘still win business’

Bungling Olympic security firm G4S is set to be offered another gold-plated Government contract despite its failure to provide enough staff for London 2012.

The company, which MPs want blacklisted from taxpayer-funded deals because the Army had to rescue it this summer, has now been shortlisted to help in several call centres.

G4S has been picked by the Department for Work and Pensions above 16 other firms and now looks likely to help advise the public on benefits.

Scandal: G4S’s mishandling of its Olympic security contract led to the military being called in, but it has now been shortlisted for another taxpayer-funded deal

Its inability to cope with an Olympics security contract meant that 18,000 troops and 12,000 police were drafted in to form the ‘ring of steel’ around venues that G4S had promised, causing national outrage.

G4S signed a £284million deal to provide 10,400 Games security guards, but just 16 days before the opening ceremony it admitted it had only fulfilled 83 per cent of contracted shifts.

Laughing: G4S boss Nick Buckles managed to keep his £5.3m a year job despite the embarrassing problems this summer

Politicians have today vented their fury at the news.

Shadow sports minister Clive Efford said: ‘This is unbelievable after the way they let down the country.’

Tory MP Patrick Mercer and former Army officer added: ‘I would be deeply concerned about further taxpayers’ money being spent on the firm that caused such chaos.’

But despite their catastrophic failings this summer G4S, which offers a wide range of services, not just security, said they could do the job.

Sean Williams, managing director of its employment support services arm, said the decision showed it could ‘still win business’.

‘We’ve done a massive amount of work for the Government over the past few years and we hope the Government recognises that,’ he added.

G4S look set to run call centres linked to the Coalition’s roll out of its Universal credits system.

The six main benefits will be rolled into one over the next five years and G4S staff could help answer calls from the public.

A DWP spokesperson said: ‘Framework agreements with six suppliers will allow DWP to procure contact centre requirements over the next four years, if needed.

‘DWP’s own call centres remain the primary point of contact for claimants and there is no guaranteed work for any suppliers on the Framework.’

Changes: British soldiers were denied holiday and brought back from warzones to fill in for G4S

G4S SIGNS UP NEW DIRECTORS TO SURE UP BUSINESS

G4S announced the appointment of three new directors today as the security group looks to move on following its Olympics Games contract fiasco.

ITV chief executive Adam Crozier and Paul Spence, who has served on Capgemini’s management committee, will join the G4S board next month, while Tim Weller, chief financial officer of Petrofac, will start in April.

The non-executive appointments replace Bo Lerenius and Paul Condon, who will retire from the company’s board in June following nine years service.

Shares in the FTSE 100 Index group were 3 per cent higher today.

The head of the bungling security firm kept his job despite an independent review finding the company guilty of ‘mishandling’ its Olympic contract.

By Martin Robinson

PUBLISHED: 13:31 GMT, 18 December 2012 | UPDATED: 17:49 GMT, 18 December 2012

Find this story at 18 December 2012

© Associated Newspapers Ltd

University of Oslo to end G4S contract over support for Israeli apartheid

Student campaigners created stickers imitating G4S’ logo to raise awareness on campus. (Photo courtesey of Palestine Committee at the University of Oslo)

In a major success for the campaign against Israeli prison contractor G4S, the University of Oslo has announced that it will terminate its contract with the company in July 2013.

G4S is a private security company that has a contract to provide equipment and services to Israeli prisons at which Palestinian political prisoners, including child prisoners, are detained and mistreated. G4S also provides equipment and services to checkpoints, illegal settlements and businesses in settlements. The Israeli governmentrecently confirmed that G4S also provides equipment to Israel’s illegal apartheid wall.

Student activists with the Palestine Committee at the University of Oslo began campaigning in August for the university to not renew its contract with G4S, which has been providing security services on campus since 2010. Campaigners plastered the campus with “Boycott G4S” stickers that imitated real G4S stickers and the student parliament voted to support the campaign. Students have also held demonstrations and other actions on campus.

The university had the option to extend the contract for another year beyond its original expiry date of March 2013 but has now negotiated a termination date of 1 July 2013. The University of Oslo does not want to “support companies that operate in an ethical grey area” and new ethical procurement guidelines will be developed to prevent any future contracts with companies involved in human rights abuses, university director Ole Petter Ottersen has said.

In November, a petition signed by 21 organizations including trade unions, political parties and nongovernmental organizations such as Amnesty International was sent to G4S Norway. The signatories stated: ”G4S must immediately withdraw from all activities on occupied Palestinian land and halt all deliveries to Israeli prisons in which Palestinian prisoners are imprisoned in violation of the Geneva conventions.”

There are campaigns against G4S in several other European countries including Denmark, Sweden, the UK and Belgium and several public bodies, nongovernmental organizations and private companies have already been succesfully persuaded to cut their ties to the company.
Continued deception

While attempting to defend its support for Israeli violations of international law to Norwegian media outlets, G4S repeated earlier claims that it intends to pull out of several contracts to provide equipment to Israeli settlements and checkpoints by 2015, creating the false impression that it is ending all support for Israeli violations of international law.

Yet if G4S is serious about ending its complicity, why doesn’t it end all involvement in settlements immediately? The comapny has so far not announced any plans to end its provision of security services to private businesses in illegal Israeli settlements.

Most importantly, G4S continues to omit any mention of its role in prisons inside Israelin its public communications in response to campaigns, making clear its intent to continue its role in the Israeli prison system, underlining the need for continued campaigning.

Posted on December 11, 2012 by Michael Deas at Electronic Intifada

Find this story at 11 December 2012

G4S tagging contract now at risk

G4S will face its “next big test” of government support as early as next month after it was stripped of a key prison contract in the wake of the company’s Olympics security shambles.
FTSE 100 security group is waiting to hear whether it will be reappointed on a contract to provide electronic tagging of offenders. MPs stopped short of calling for the resignation of chief executive Nick Buckles after the Olympics fiasco.

The FTSE 100 security group is waiting to hear whether it will be reappointed on a contract to provide electronic tagging of offenders services across England and Wales, worth £50m of annual revenue to the company.

G4S and Serco gained an extension to an existing contract in 2009, which is due to expire in March 2013. It is understood that the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) is considering bids for the next phase of the contract with an announcement expected next month.

Under the existing contract G4S and Serco manage the entire process including the technology, tagging, and monitoring of offenders, in two regions each. Under the next phase, the contract will not be split into regions but “services”, with one company providing technology across England and Wales and the other providing tagging for example. In September G4S won a contract to provide tagging services in Scotland.

G4S declined to comment on the contract in England and Wales, but David Brockton, analyst at Espirito Santo, said it would be “the next big test”.

The MoJ said on Thursday it would strip G4S of its contract to manage HMP Wolds in East Yorkshire when its contract expires in July 2013, with management reverting to the public sector.
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Olympics fiasco: G4S to be frozen out in future 22 Jul 2012
Political risks are getting too hot for private companies 08 Nov 2012.

By Angela Monaghan

7:30AM GMT 11 Nov 2012

Find this story at 11 November 2012

© Copyright of Telegraph Media Group Limited 2012

Homes, G4S style: Rubbish, rising damp… and ‘roaches’

Another shambles as security giant leaves asylum seeker living in squalor

An asylum seeker with a five-month-old baby claims she was placed in a property by the private contractor G4S that was infested with cockroaches and slugs. The woman, who was trafficked to the UK and sold into prostitution before seeking asylum, claims she and her baby were left in the house for weeks before the local council intervened to ensure they were rehoused.

Leeds City Council contacted G4S, and their property sub-contractors Cascade, earlier this week after their inspectors found the property was a “Category 1 Hazard” and unfit for human habitation in its current condition. G4S holds contracts to supply accommodation to asylum contracts across much of England as part of the UK Border Agency’s COMPASS project.

The woman, known as Angela, says she was “dumped” at the property after she refused to accept an alternative place offered to her on the basis that the filth, mould and damp there would pose a health risk to her child.

She made repeated complaints to both G4S and Cascade and was told by the firms that they had carried out their own inspections and were satisfied the accommodations was “decent”.

“One of the people said to me when I rang ‘slugs are not harmful, even if your baby eats one of them’” she told The Independent.

Angela, who was forced into prostitution after being trafficked to the UK in 2000, was initially housed in a “nice” one-bed flat by UKBA after seeking refuge from her handlers.

But when her son was born she was moved to an area contracted to G4S and sub-contracted to property firm Cascade. “When I came here I said ‘this house doesn’t look safe for me and my child to live in’, there were cockroaches and slugs,” Angela recalls. “They took me to another property and that was absolutely disgusting, worse than this one. The kitchen smells of wee, the whole place, words cannot describe I was crying, I was screaming”.

Charlotte Philby
Friday, 14 December 2012

Find This story at 14 December 2012

© independent.co.uk

Renault prepared for staff suicides over spying scandal

More than a year after French carmaker Renault found itself embroiled in an industrial espionage scandal, new documents show that the company had prepared statements in the event that the three employees blamed in the case committed suicide.

More than one year ago, French carmaker Renault found itself embroiled in a high-profile industrial espionage scandal. Three executives were fired, but the case turned out to be bogus, and in a desperate attempt to put the whole sordid affair behind them, the company issued a public apology to its former employees.

It appears, however, that the story is far from over. New documents have emerged showing that Renault had prepared statements in the event that the scandal drove the three employees concerned to kill themselves.

Executives Michel Balthazard, Bertrand Rochette and Mathieu Tenenbaum were dismissed from Renault in January of last year on suspicions that they had leaked information on the company’s electric cars to rivals. Although wrongly accused, the three found themselves at the heart of a very public scandal, with little recourse to defend themselves.Renault espionage scandal

AUTO INDUSTRY
Renault loses No. 2 man over industrial spying scandal

AUTO INDUSTRY
Renault apologises over spying claim

France
Renault braces for backlash in industrial spying case

Apparently aware of the possible consequences, Renault’s communications director took action. Two statements were prepared in the event of the “inevitable” – one for a botched suicide attempt, the other for a successful one.

Strain on executives

The documents, which French radio station France Info published on their website Friday, showed that Renault was not only fully aware that the strain of the situation might drive its employees to suicide, but also its apparent acceptance of what it saw as a certainty.

Written in dry, clinical terms, the two statements varied little in their content. The first, which was to be issued in the event of “option 1”, in other words a failed suicide attempt, read: “One of the three executives laid off on January 3, 2011, attempted to end his life on (date).”

The second, or “option 2”, was only slightly modified: “One of the three executives laid off on January 3, 2011, ended his life on (date).”

The statement then went on to convey the company’s regret over the tragic incident.

Latest update: 13/10/2012
By Luke BROWN (video)
FRANCE 24 (text)

Find this Story at 13 October 2012

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Deutschland Spionage: Die Verschwörung gegen Brandt

Nachdem 1969 erstmals ein SPD-Politiker Bundeskanzler wurde, bauten CDU- und CSU-Anhänger einen eigenen Nachrichtendienst auf. Ein unglaublicher Spionagefall

Dies ist die erstaunliche Geschichte einer Verschwörung. Sie begann im Herbst 1969 und endete Mitte der achtziger Jahre, sie spielt nicht irgendwo, sondern im Herzen der politischen Landschaft der Bundesrepublik Deutschland, tief verankert in den konservativen Parteien CDU und CSU. Es geht dabei um nicht weniger als um die Gründung eines eigenen Nachrichtendienstes, abseits der Öffentlichkeit und jeder parlamentarischen Kontrolle. Verschiedene Geheimdienstfiguren spielen eine Rolle und ein internationales Netz schillernder Agenten, alles in enger Abstimmung mit christsozialen Hardlinern. Franz Josef Strauß hat den Dienst unterstützt, Helmut Kohl hat von ihm gewusst. Finanziert wurden die schwarzen Spione im Verborgenen, aus unübersichtlichen Kanälen. Nach den Unterlagen, die dem ZEITmagazin vorliegen, kostete dieser Nachrichtendienst mehrere Millionen Mark.

Im Jahr 2012 wird anlässlich der dramatischen Ermittlungspannen im Zusammenhang mit dem Zwickauer Mördertrio heftig über den Sinn der Geheimdienste diskutiert und auch über die Frage, wie schnell ein unkontrollierter Dienst zum Problem an sich werden kann. Die Geschichte, die hier erzählt wird, macht deutlich, wie Spitzenpolitiker an allen staatlichen Organen vorbei solch einen unkontrollierbaren Dienst schufen, nur um ihr eigenes trübes politisches Süppchen zu kochen.

Alles fängt damit an, dass im Herbst 1969 die Konservativen erstmals seit Bestehen der Bundesrepublik die Regierungsmacht verlieren. CDU und CSU gewinnen zwar die meisten Stimmen bei der Bundestagswahl, die FDP entscheidet sich jedoch für ein Bündnis mit den Sozialdemokraten. Nun kann Willy Brandt sein außenpolitisches Konzept »Wandel durch Annäherung« in die Tat umsetzen. Er schickt seinen Staatssekretär Egon Bahr im Januar 1970 als Unterhändler nach Moskau. Dort soll er mit dem sowjetischen Außenminister Andrej Gromyko sondieren, ob die Regierung im Kreml bereit ist, sich per Vertrag zu einem Gewaltverzicht zu verpflichten. Dafür wird die Bundesregierung dem Verhandlungspartner entgegenkommen müssen. Mitglieder der Vertriebenenverbände warnen, ihre Heimat im Osten dürfe nicht im Gegenzug preisgegeben werden. Brandt weiß, dass sich die Sowjetunion nur auf einen Vertrag einlassen wird, wenn er als deutscher Kanzler die Grenzen nach dem Zweiten Weltkrieg offiziell akzeptiert. Ebenso heikel: Brandt kann und will die DDR nicht völkerrechtlich anerkennen, die Regierung in Ost-Berlin will allein unter dieser Voraussetzung verhandeln.
DIE AUTORIN

Die Politikwissenschaftlerin Stefanie Waske las für ihre Dissertation Briefe von CDU-Abgeordneten, in einigen war von einem »kleinen Dienst« die Rede. Sieben Jahre dauerte die Recherche, deren Ergebnisse sie hier erstmals veröffentlicht. Sie studierte Tausende von Dokumenten, einige wurden erst nach jahrelangen Prüfungen freigegeben. Anfang 2013 erscheint ihr Buch »Nach Lektüre vernichten! Der geheime Nachrichtendienst von CDU und CSU im Kalten Krieg« bei Hanser

Brandt wird sich nicht nur außenpolitisch geschickt verhalten müssen. Seine Koalition verfügt im Bundestag lediglich über eine Mehrheit von wenigen Stimmen. Geht der Kanzler zu weit, riskiert er das Ende seiner Regierung. Auch in der SPD- und in der FDP-Fraktion gibt es Abgeordnete, die sich in den Vertriebenenverbänden engagieren oder aus anderen Gründen skeptisch sind. Bereits im Oktober 1970 wechseln drei FDP-Parlamentarier zur CDU/CSU-Fraktion. Sie werden nicht die letzten bleiben. Ebenso könnte ein falscher Verhandlungsschritt die internationalen Partner der Bundesregierung – allen voran die USA – verärgern.

Bahr ist sich damals bewusst, dass ihn die Nachrichtendienste beobachten – ohne jedoch an einen eigenen Dienst der Opposition im Bundestag zu denken, wie er heute sagt. Henry Kissinger, dem damaligen Sicherheitsberater des US-Präsidenten, habe er als Erstem das Gesamtkonzept bei einem Besuch in völliger Offenheit dargelegt. »Natürlich war er misstrauisch. Wenn Kissinger Nein gesagt hätte, dann hätten wir es nicht gemacht. Es wäre sonst ein Abenteuer geworden.«

Was Bahr nicht wusste: Henry Kissinger empfängt in seinem Büro in Washington im März 1970 einen guten Bekannten. Der Besucher will sich über die neue Ostpolitik Willy Brandts unterhalten. Das verwundert Kissinger sicher nicht, kaum ein Thema ist in diesen Tagen wichtiger. Der deutsche Kanzler will die Regierung in Moskau zu einem Entspannungskurs bewegen. Kissinger ahnt nicht, dass sein Gast nur eines im Sinn hat: ihm vertrauliche Informationen zu entlocken, um sie Brandts Gegnern in der Bundesrepublik zu schicken. Auf seine Botschaft wartet bereits ein ehemaliger hochrangiger Mitarbeiter des Bundesnachrichtendienstes (BND). Dieser baut für die CDU und CSU einen Nachrichtendienst auf. Wer dieser Zuträger war, kann heute nicht zweifelsfrei geklärt werden. Henry Kissinger lässt sämtliche Fragen des ZEITmagazins zu diesem Komplex unbeantwortet.

Es ist die tiefe Furcht vor der neuen Politik Willy Brandts, die deutsche Konservative zum Handeln treibt. Einer von ihnen ist der CSU-Bundestagsabgeordnete Karl Theodor Freiherr zu Guttenberg, der Großvater des gleichnamigen ehemaligen Bundesverteidigungsministers im Kabinett Angela Merkels. Der damals 48-Jährige mit hoher Stirn, nach hinten gekämmten glatten Haaren und Walross-Schnauzer gilt als brillanter Redner und intellektueller Kopf der Konservativen. Die Meinungen über ihn sind gespalten. Manche bewundern und verehren ihn als Gentleman, andere sehen in ihm einen reaktionären Adeligen. Seit einiger Zeit weiß der Hoffnungsträger der CSU, dass er an der tödlichen Muskelkrankheit ALS leidet. Als außenpolitischer Experte seiner Partei kennt er die Pläne der sozialliberalen Regierung genau. Bald wird er Brandt im Bundestag vorwerfen: »Sie, Herr Bundeskanzler, sind dabei, das Deutschlandkonzept des Westens aufzugeben und in jenes der Sowjetunion einzutreten.« Für ihn steht die Freiheit auf dem Spiel.

Guttenberg trifft sich im Herbst 1969 mit dem ehemaligen Kanzler Kurt Georg Kiesinger, dem früheren Kanzleramtschef Konrad Adenauers, Hans Globke, und dem CSU-Vorsitzenden Franz Josef Strauß. Später wird in einer Aufzeichnung festgehalten: »Auf Grund der Lage nach den Wahlen zum Bundestag beschlossen Dr. H. Globke in Verbindung mit Dr. K. G. Kiesinger und Frhr. von und zu Guttenberg in Verbindung mit Dr. F. J. Strauß die Gründung eines Informationsdienstes für die Opposition.« Sie alle haben die Sorge, dass sie durch den Regierungswechsel von den Infokanälen der Geheimdienste abgeschnitten werden. Und sie wissen, dass ihre Parteien in Diplomatenkreisen noch Rückhalt haben. Deren Beobachtungen der neuen Ostpolitik könnten über abgeschirmte Kanäle zur Opposition transportiert werden, so der kühne Plan. Vier Wochen später wird die Idee noch abenteuerlicher. Guttenberg bekommt einen Brief von einem Meister der Konspiration: Wolfgang Langkau, pensionierter Vertrauter des ehemaligen BND-Präsidenten Reinhard Gehlen und langjähriger CDU-Kontaktmann. Er schreibt: »Zu diesem Ziele bietet sich die Möglichkeit an, ein seit Jahren durch eine besondere Stelle im BND geführtes Informationsbeschaffungsnetz einzusetzen, das laufende Verbindungen insbesondere zu USA, Frankreich, Österreich, Italien, Vatikan, arabische Länder, Jugoslawien, Rumänien, ČSSR, UNO unterhält.« Er ist überzeugt, dass seine ehemaligen Zubringer mit an Bord wären, würden sich die Konservativen zu einem eigenen Dienst durchringen können. Zumal in einer Situation, in der sie gemeinsam einen »Beitrag für unser europäisches Überleben« leisten könnten, notiert Langkau.

Von Langkau sind nur wenige Bilder bekannt. Sie zeigen einen kleinen, hageren Mann mit schütterem grauem Haar, ausgeprägten Geheimratsecken und riesigem dunklem Brillengestell. Seine Bekannten beschreiben ihn als beherrscht und analytisch denkend. Der BND-Präsident Gehlen schenkte dem zurückhaltenden Mann wie kaum jemandem in seinem Dienst Vertrauen. Daher gab er ihm Sonderaufträge, beispielsweise den Kontakt zum israelischen Geheimdienst Mossad aufzubauen. Langkau leitete bis 1968 den Strategischen Dienst des BND. Die Abteilung sollte die sowjetische Westpolitik und die amerikanische Sicherheitspolitik beobachten.

Das Wichtigste für ein Nachrichtennetz sind Informanten – auch hier kann Langkau viel vorweisen. Er besaß den Spitznamen Doktor der Operationen und liebte es, mit Agenten zu arbeiten. Andere Geheimdienstler bevorzugen Technik, wie Radaranlagen oder Telefonüberwachung. Langkau kümmerte sich um einige seiner Zubringer sogar persönlich. Im Geheimdienstjargon heißen sie Sonderverbindungen, es sind hochrangige Politiker, Wirtschaftslenker und Militärs. Sie verfügen über besonders gute Zugänge zu höchsten Kreisen der Gesellschaft und Politik. Erst mit der Zeit wird der Kontakt enger, das heißt, der Geheimdienst führt sie, erteilt ihnen Aufträge. An diese Sonderverbindungen denkt Langkau, als er der Opposition sein Angebot unterbreitet.

Per Brief offeriert er, diese ehemaligen BND-Verbindungen für CDU und CSU erneut in Aktion zu versetzen. Sie wollten zudem nicht für die SPD/FDP-Regierung arbeiten. Er schlägt vor, eine Kernbasis eines »echten geheimen Nachrichtendienstes im Sinne eines – zunächst winzigen – National-Security-Stabes für eine künftige CDU/CSU-Regierung« zu schaffen. Ein anspruchsvoller Plan, soll der kleine Dienst doch die gesamte Spannbreite außenpolitischer Nachrichten sammeln und auswerten.

Billig ist sein Vorschlag nicht: Die Planung sieht eine Mindestfinanzierung von 750000 Mark pro Jahr vor, dazu als Option eine weitere Million Mark. Der Kreis um Guttenberg war den Dokumenten zufolge, die dem ZEITmagazin vorliegen, vom Plan des ehemaligen Spitzenbeamten des BND trotz der hohen Kosten und Risiken überzeugt.

Die erste drängende Frage: Woher sollen CDU und CSU das Personal nehmen? Ohne Hauptamtliche kann es aus Sicht der Politiker keinen Informationsdienst geben. Sie beschließen, ihnen nahestehende BND-Mitarbeiter abzuwerben. Als Ersten nehmen sie Hans Langemann in den Blick, damals für den BND in Rom. Er leitet die dortige Residentur, das sind die »Botschaften« des Dienstes im Ausland. Doch die CDU- und CSU-Bundespolitiker kommen zu spät: Der bayerische Kultusminister Ludwig Huber bemüht sich bereits um Langemann und will ihn als auslandsnachrichtendienstlichen Berater der Olympischen Spiele 1972 gewinnen.

Die andere Option: Hans Christoph von Stauffenberg, ein weiterer ehemaliger Mitarbeiter Langkaus. Er arbeitet in einer verdeckten Münchner BND-Außenstelle. Von seinem kleinen Büro geben die Mitarbeiter Hinweise an die Zentrale in Pullach, welche Informationen die Agenten beschaffen sollen. Im Jargon des Dienstes heißt das Steuerungshinweis – die Hauptaufgabe des damals 58-Jährigen. Er wertet Meldungen und Nachrichten aus, führt somit keine Agenten. Auf Fotos wirkt der Baron eher wie ein Künstler, Schauspieler oder Intellektueller: schmal, mittelgroß, stets korrekt und geschmackvoll gekleidet mit Jackett und Krawatte.

Stauffenberg – bei diesem Namen denkt wohl jeder zuerst an Claus von Stauffenberg, den Offizier der deutschen Wehrmacht, der am 20. Juli 1944 Hitler töten wollte. Anders als der spätere Attentäter machte Hans Christoph von Stauffenberg keine militärische Karriere, eine Krankheit verhinderte den Fronteinsatz. Stattdessen befragte er Kriegsgefangene in einem Lager bei Oberursel. Als Student war er 1933 in die NSDAP eingetreten, hielt sich jedoch bald von der Partei fern. Am Tag des Attentats auf Hitler saß Stauffenberg mit seiner Frau Camilla in der Oper in Bad Homburg und sah sich die Hochzeit des Figaro an. Die Gestapo nahm das Ehepaar, wie fast alle Stauffenbergs, wenige Tage danach in Sippenhaft.

In Hans Christoph von Stauffenberg finden die Eingeweihten aus CDU und CSU einen Leiter für ihren Dienst. Es taucht nur das Problem auf, dass der nach 12 Jahren im BND nicht seine Ansprüche aus dem öffentlichen Dienst verlieren soll. Außerdem sieht der Plan vor, noch eine Übersetzerin und seine Sekretärin zu übernehmen. Es entsteht die Idee, sie gemeinsam in der bayerischen Staatskanzlei unterzubringen.

Damit das gelingt, muss Guttenberg für seinen Freund und Verwandten Stauffenberg bei seinen Kollegen im bayerischen Kabinett werben. Inzwischen bemüht sich Stauffenberg um die Unterstützung seines langjährigen Freundes Casimir Prinz zu Sayn-Wittgenstein. 1969 ist dieser noch nicht Schatzmeister der hessischen CDU, was ihn Jahrzehnte später zu einer der Schlüsselfiguren der CDU-Parteispendenaffäre werden ließ. Sayn-Wittgenstein war es, der rund 20 Millionen Mark auf ein CDU-Konto in der Schweiz gebracht hatte und deren Herkunft als »jüdische Vermächtnisse« zu deklarieren versuchte. Er wurde wegen Untreue angeklagt, das Verfahren wurde allerdings wegen seines schlechten Gesundheitszustandes 2005 eingestellt.

Die Freunde Sayn-Wittgenstein und Stauffenberg verbindet ein dramatisches Ereignis zur Zeit des Nationalsozialismus. Sayn-Wittgensteins Mutter hatte in zweiter Ehe den jüdischen Unternehmer Richard Merton geheiratet. Dem Paar war in letzter Minute die Ausreise ins britische Exil geglückt, Casimir und sein Bruder August Richard zu Sayn-Wittgenstein blieben und versuchten 1939, mit der Gestapo über das beschlagnahmte Familienvermögen zu verhandeln. Das kostete August Richard das Leben. Casimir fand ihn sterbend in einem Berliner Hotel. Stauffenberg kam noch mit einem Arzt dorthin, doch es war zu spät. Offizielle Todesursache: Selbstmord.

1969 zieht es Sayn-Wittgenstein in die Politik, auch bei ihm dient als Begründung die Ablehnung der neuen Ostpolitik. Er hat sich bisher auf seine Karriere im Familienunternehmen, der Frankfurter Metallgesellschaft AG, konzentriert. Seine Wirtschaftskontakte, so Stauffenbergs Hoffnung, könnten dem Dienst sehr helfen. Bald wird sich Sayn-Wittgenstein als Spendensammler bewähren müssen. Eine Aufzeichnung Guttenbergs, wahrscheinlich aus dem Jahr 1970, offenbart, dass fast die Hälfte der Kosten für den Nachrichtendienst durch Spenden hereinkommen soll: Darin heißt es, die Wirtschaft Nordrhein-Westfalens habe 100000 Mark zugesagt. Die CDU wolle prüfen, ob sie ebenfalls 100000 Mark zahlen könne. 50000 Mark stelle die CSU in Aussicht. Von der süddeutschen Industrie erhoffe man sich 100000 Mark.

Stauffenbergs pensionierter Chef Langkau beginnt bereits im Frühjahr 1970 mit einer kleinen privaten Gruppe in München. Er nimmt Kontakt zu seinen ehemaligen Quellen auf, bittet sie um ihre Mitarbeit. Eine von ihnen führt das oben erwähnte Gespräch mit Kissinger im März 1970 in Washington. Langkau erreicht danach die Meldung, der Sicherheitsberater des amerikanischen Präsidenten habe erwähnt, Bahr lasse dem Weißen Haus auf Umwegen Berichte über seine Gespräche in Moskau zukommen. Kissinger vermute jedoch, so der Informant, dass der Unterhändler der Bonner Regierung nicht alles sage, was sich zwischen ihm und den Sowjets abspiele.

Kissinger und Bahr hatten im Oktober 1969 verabredet, einen back channel einzurichten, einen direkten Kontakt an der Bürokratie vorbei – der sollte jedoch absolut geheim bleiben und Vertrauen herstellen. Auf US-Seite sollte nur noch Kissingers Mitarbeiter Helmut Sonnenfeldt etwas wissen, auf deutscher Willy Brandt und Kanzleramtschef Horst Ehmke. Wer die Kissinger-Meldung des Informanten noch erhielt, ist nicht überliefert. Sie trägt die Nummer 58, kommt am 10. März 1970 aus Washington und umfasst drei knappe, mit Schreibmaschine verfasste Absätze. Bahr, nach dem Dokument befragt, bemerkt: »Es erinnert an eine typische BND-Meldung aus Presseberichten und Vermutungen.«

Der Stoff hat das Zeug zum Spionageroman. Und die Konstruktion dieses Nachrichtendienstes an jeder parlamentarischen Kontrolle vorbei trägt einen politischen Skandal in sich. Was wissen CDU und CSU heute darüber? Wie beurteilen sie die Schaffung dieses Dienstes? Wie wurden die Gelder verbucht? Was für eine Rolle spielte Prinz zu Sayn-Wittgenstein, immerhin der Mann, der mitverantwortlich war für einen der größten Politikskandale der Bundesrepublik? All das haben wir die Unionsparteien gefragt. Für die Antworten ließen sich beide Parteizentralen eine Woche Zeit. Dann hieß es, der Sachverhalt sei unbekannt. Kein Kommentar.

Im Sommer 1970 übernimmt Hans Christoph von Stauffenberg die Führung der nachrichtendienstlichen Gruppe. Er hat die Zusage, mit seiner Sekretärin in die bayerische Staatskanzlei zu wechseln. In seinem Kündigungsschreiben an den BND führt Stauffenberg aus, er wolle sich nicht »zum Handlanger einer Politik machen«, die er »für das Volk für abträglich, zumindest für sehr gefährlich« halte. Seinen neuen Arbeitsplatz nennt Stauffenberg »Zuflucht«. Mit dem 1. August 1970 muss sich der ehemalige Geheimdienstler offiziell in einen Redenschreiber für Grußworte verwandeln, alles nur, damit er seine Mission des Informationsdienstes in die Tat umsetzen kann. Seinen neuen Kollegen erzählt Stauffenberg die Legende, er komme von der Bundesvermögensverwaltung. Das Synonym für Bundesnachrichtendienst kennt längst jeder. So geht bei seiner Ankunft, wie er selbst schreibt, »ein Raunen durchs Haus«. Doch Stauffenberg verschwindet schnell aus ihrem Blickfeld. Sein Dienstherr hat ihn in einem abgelegenen Nebenhaus untergebracht. Arbeit ist Mangelware. Und wenn einmal etwas anfällt, bleiben für den Neuling die Randthemen übrig, wie die Rede zum 150. Geburtstag von Pfarrer Sebastian Kneipp oder ein Grußtelegramm für das Raumausstatter-Handwerk.

Die eigentliche Arbeit beginnt nach Dienstschluss. Mit seinem ehemaligen Chef und neuen Partner Langkau stattet er eine seiner Münchner Wohnungen zu einem »bescheidenen Büro« für den Dienst um. Die Möbel stammen aus der CSU-Landesleitung. Die Lage ist – anders als die Ausstattung – exklusiv, die Ottostraße verläuft parallel zum Maximiliansplatz. Guttenberg gratuliert Stauffenberg aus der Kur in Bad Neustadt: »Ich freue mich, daß im Übrigen nun doch endlich gelungen scheint, was wir monatelang betrieben haben, und daß Du nun anscheinend vernünftig arbeiten kannst.«

Langkau und Stauffenberg beginnen sofort mit der Arbeit. Egon Bahr hat in Moskau bereits mit dem Außenminister Andrej Gromyko eine gemeinsame Linie gefunden. Am 12. August 1970 werden Brandt und Außenminister Walter Scheel sowie Gromyko und der sowjetische Ministerpräsident Alexej Kossygin feierlich den Moskauer Vertrag unterzeichnen.

Die Meldungen der Informanten gehen aus Brüssel, Paris und Washington ein, fast nie aus dem Inland. Mithilfe dieser Texte verfassen die ehemaligen BND-Mitarbeiter Berichte, nicht nur zur neuen Ostpolitik, sondern auch über die innenpolitische Entwicklung Chinas oder Spannungen im Zentralkomitee der Kommunistischen Partei der Sowjetunion. Klassische Agentenberichte sind es nicht, hier wird niemand beschattet, telefonisch abgehört oder verdeckt fotografiert. Wobei einige Informanten ihre vertraulich-privaten Unterredungen mit ihren Gesprächspartnern offensichtlich mitschneiden. Im Laufe der Jahre wird Stauffenberg laut den Berichten über einige gut platzierte Quellen verfügen. Selbst mit dem Staatspräsidenten Rumäniens, Nicolae Ceauşescu, und dem Jugoslawiens, Josip Broz Tito, kommen die Vertrauensmänner ins Gespräch. Bei Ceauşescu ist es die Quelle »Petrus«, bei Tito ist es »ein progressiver Politiker eines blockfreien Landes«.

Welche Identitäten hinter den Zuträgern stecken, lässt sich nur teilweise belegen. In den heute vorliegenden Listen und Berichten tauchen sie mit ihren Decknamen auf. Langkau und Stauffenberg waren geschulte Geheimdienst-Mitarbeiter. Sie hätten niemals die wahren Namen ihrer Vertrauensmänner aufgelistet und die Zahlungsbelege angeheftet. Bekannt sind die Einsatzgebiete der Informanten: »Dut« kümmert sich um die USA, Frankreich und Italien, »Grete« um Straßburg und »Petrus« um Osteuropa und den Nahen Osten. Die drei Informanten »Chris«, »Norbert« und »Hervier« berichten aus den USA. Österreich nimmt sich »Hiking« vor. In Fernost arbeitet »Xaver«. »Urbino« und »Kolb« decken die Kirchen ab. Im Laufe der Jahre kommen neue Zuträger hinzu. Sie berichten aus den USA ebenso wie aus Kuba oder Taiwan.

Wann immer die Berichte darauf hindeuten, wer die Information geliefert haben könnte, gehen sie nur an den engsten Verteiler. Stets schreibt der Bearbeiter, meist wohl Stauffenberg, dann hinzu: »Wegen Quellengefährdung wird um besonders vertrauliche Behandlung gebeten.« Die Empfänger sollen trotzdem ahnen, wie außerordentlich das Ganze ist: Aus den Hauptstädten der Welt berichtet daher mal »ein Vertrauensmann von Henry Kissinger«, ein »hoher rumänischer Parteifunktionär« oder »ein sehr gut unterrichteter UN-Diplomat«.

Zu Beginn erreichen die besonders exklusiven Berichte die CDU über den Fraktionsmitarbeiter Hans Neusel, der im Jahr 1979 Staatssekretär und Chef des Bundespräsidialamtes wird. Das bestätigt dieser auf Anfrage.

Friedrich Voß, Büroleiter von Franz Josef Strauß, erhält die Ausfertigungen für seinen Chef. So sind die Parteispitzen informiert. Später werden die CDU/CSU-Fraktionsvorsitzenden Karl Carstens und Helmut Kohl unterrichtet.

Der Nachrichtendienst ist teuer. Allein im ersten Jahr entstehen für die Quellen Kosten von 160.000 Mark. Eine wichtige Rolle bei der Finanzierung spielt der Verein, den Stauffenberg und seine Unterstützer im Januar 1971 ins Leben rufen: der Arbeitskreis für das Studium internationaler Fragen in München. Der Verein überweist Geld an Stauffenberg. Vorsitzender wird der Herausgeber des Rheinischen Merkurs, Otto B. Roegele, Stellvertreter wird der ehemalige Minister für die Fragen des Bundesverteidigungsrates, Heinrich Krone. Das Amt des Schatzmeisters übernimmt der Rechtsanwalt und CSU-Landtagsabgeordnete Alfred Seidl, eine höchst schillernde Figur. Seidl, ein überzeugtes NSDAP-Mitglied, verteidigte in den Nürnberger Prozessen Rudolf Heß und Hans Frank und bemühte sich lebenslang um die Freilassung von Heß. Nach dem Tod Seidls wurde bekannt, dass ihn eine enge politische Freundschaft mit dem DVU-Chef Gerhard Frey verband. Die Akten des Arbeitskreises, die Aufschluss über die Arbeit des Vereins liefern könnten, befinden sich im Nachlass von Exminister Krone. Sie sind vom Archiv der Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung mit Verweis auf Persönlichkeitsrechte gesperrt.

Fest steht: Bis Mitte der siebziger Jahre braucht Stauffenberg die finanzielle Unterstützung von CDU und CSU. Dem ZEITmagazin liegen Ausarbeitungen vor, wonach die Christdemokraten in den ersten beiden Jahren je 100000 Mark beigesteuert haben. Dazu kommen Unternehmensspenden, die nicht weiter aufgeschlüsselt werden. Überliefert ist, dass Sayn-Wittgenstein den ehemaligen Deutsche-Bank-Chef Hermann Josef Abs umwarb, der bayerische Staatsminister Franz Heubl den Unternehmer Rolf Rodenstock. Guttenberg bemühte sich um den ehemaligen Flick-Generalbevollmächtigten und CSU-Abgeordneten Wolfgang Pohle.

Ein wichtiger Helfer von Stauffenberg wird sein ehemaliger BND-Kollege Hans Langemann, der zuerst den Dienst leiten sollte. Er arbeitet seit November 1970 für die Olympischen Spiele in München und verfügt über Geld des Landes Bayern. Mit den Landesmitteln soll er geheime Zuträger finanzieren, die ihn auf Gefahren für die Sommerspiele hinweisen. Allein 1971 liegt sein Budget bei 91254 Mark, ein Jahr später sind es 108491 Mark. Ab März 1971 übernimmt Stauffenberg Langemanns Berichte mit einem Vorspann für seinen Dienst: Die Meldungen, heißt es, stammten aus einem »Bereich, dessen Koordinierung vorbereitet« werde.

Im November 1970 wird Henry Kissinger erneut von einem Informanten Stauffenbergs aufgesucht. Mittlerweile ist der deutsch-sowjetische Vertrag unterschrieben, die Unterzeichnung des Warschauer Vertrags steht kurz bevor. Dieses Mal weiß Kissinger offensichtlich, dass sein Gast der Opposition zuarbeitet. Hier wird er nicht ausgehorcht, sondern er gibt der CDU und CSU vertrauliche Ratschläge, wie sie sich gegenüber Brandt verhalten sollen. Der Zuträger zitiert Kissinger mit den Worten: »Es mag möglich sein, die gegenwärtige Regierung zu stürzen, offen bleibt aber, ob hierfür nicht Risiken eingehandelt werden, die eine CDU/CSU-Regierung in größte Schwierigkeiten bringen kann.« Der Amerikaner weist laut Bericht darauf hin, dass die sowjetische Regierung die Zustimmung beider großen Parteien im Bundestag für die Ostverträge wünsche. Auf diese Weise würde auch bei einem Mehrheitswechsel das Abkommen nicht infrage gestellt. Soll also die Opposition Verantwortung für die Verträge übernehmen, wie es auch die SPD fordert? Kissinger favorisiert demnach eine andere Taktik: »Ich würde eher dafür plädieren, die Ratifizierung zu verzögern und in dieser Zeit die Resultate der recht unterschiedlichen sowjetischen Praktiken in der Weltpolitik genauer zu beobachten, der Bundesregierung die Verantwortung für die Ratifizierung selbst zu überlassen.«

Kissinger rät jedoch der Quelle zufolge den Unionsparteien davon ab, ihre offene Konfrontation fortzusetzen. Die CDU/CSU-Fraktion lehnt es nämlich ab, einen Beobachter zu den Verhandlungen des Warschauer Vertrags in die polnische Hauptstadt zu entsenden. Im Dezember 1970 weigert sich Fraktionschef Rainer Barzel, den Kanzler zur Vertragsunterzeichnung zu begleiten. So ist er nicht dabei, als Brandt am Ghetto-Ehrenmal einen Kranz niederlegt und auf die Knie fällt. Die Bilder dieser Geste erreichen die ganze Welt und werden zum Symbol der neuen Ostpolitik.

Das kommende Jahr 1971 ist das der zähen Verhandlungen. Amerikaner, Franzosen, Briten und Sowjets beraten in endlosen Runden, wie sie das Leben in West-Berlin verbessern können. Die Alliierten haben die Hoheit über die geteilte Stadt. Die östliche Seite müsste garantieren, dass West-Berlin von der Bundesrepublik aus jederzeit ohne große Kontrolle erreichbar ist. Bisher ist die Anreise ein Abenteuer, das viele Stunden dauern kann. Am 3. September 1971 können die Botschafter der Alliierten endlich das Viermächteabkommen unterzeichnen.

Zwei Wochen später reist Kanzler Brandt überraschend auf die ukrainische Halbinsel Krim. In einem Vorort Jaltas, Oreanda, trifft er Leonid Breschnew in dessen Ferienhaus. Das bringt Brandt in die Kritik: Zum einen wird ihm vorgeworfen, habe er mit seinem Abstecher auf die Krim die westlichen Partner überrumpelt. Zum anderen wirken Breschnew und Brandt auf den Bildern wie in einem gemeinsamen Urlaub: Sie fahren mit dem Boot über das Schwarze Meer, gehen zusammen schwimmen. Offiziell sprechen die beiden unter anderem über die Folgen des Viermächteabkommens.

Stauffenbergs Informanten orakeln, was Brandt und Breschnew besprochen haben könnten. Einer der Zuträger spricht von »geheimen Konzessionen«. Wieder einmal sucht ein Vertrauensmann des Dienstes Kissinger zu einem privaten Gespräch auf. Anders als sonst entschließt sich Stauffenberg, den anschließenden Bericht komplett abzudrucken. Er mahnt jedoch die Empfänger: »Die naheliegende Enttarnung des Informanten legt eine entsprechend vorsichtige Verwendung dieser Information dringend nahe.« Der Zuträger wird mit Genugtuung die Skepsis seines Gesprächspartners notiert haben. Er fragt den amerikanischen Sicherheitsberater, was er von Brandts Besuch auf der Krim halte. Kissinger soll geantwortet haben: »Wir haben von ihm einen Bericht darüber bekommen, aber wie viel gesagt wurde und was verborgen blieb, werden erst Zeit und weitere Informationen erweisen. Natürlich haben wir all das nicht gerne gehabt, und der Präsident hat nicht gezögert, die Deutschen davon in Kenntnis zu setzen.« Dann folgt die schärfste Rüge. Der Informant schreibt, Kissinger habe ihm zum Alleingang Brandts gesagt: »Daß Deutschlands neue SPD-Führer das Gefühl haben, es sei für sie an der Zeit, wie Erwachsene zu handeln, das verstehen wir und glauben auch, daß West-Deutschland wie ein Erwachsener handeln sollte. Aber manchmal machen auch Erwachsene Fehler, törichte Fehler, und handeln dumm.«

All dies deutet an, dass die Zeiten für die sozialliberale Regierung schwieriger werden. Im Frühjahr 1972 verlassen wieder drei Abgeordnete die SPD/FDP-Fraktion. Zeitungen drucken aus dem Zusammenhang gerissene und wohl auch gefälschte Auszüge aus den Gesprächsaufzeichnungen von Bahr in Moskau. Oppositionsführer Barzel wagt ein Misstrauensvotum gegen den Kanzler und scheitert knapp.

In der folgenden Parlamentsabstimmung über den Bundeshaushalt verpasst Brandt die Mehrheit, seine Regierung hat keinen Rückhalt mehr. Der Kanzler berät sich mit seinem Herausforderer Barzel, wie es weitergehen soll. Sie beschließen, die Ostverträge passieren zu lassen und den Weg für Neuwahlen frei zu machen.

Die Lösung sieht so aus, dass die Mitglieder der Unionsparteien sich der Stimme enthalten sollen. Ein Zuträger des Stauffenberg-Dienstes schickt am 13. Mai 1972 die Kurzmeldung, der Direktor des amerikanischen Geheimdienstes CIA, Richard Helms, habe auf diese Konzessionsbereitschaft der Opposition erbost reagiert. Seine Worte sollen gewesen sein: »Die sind komplett verrückt geworden; aber das wird Barzel teuer zu stehen kommen, der wird nie Bundeskanzler werden.«

Einer, der sich nicht an die Empfehlung seiner Fraktion halten wird, ist Guttenberg. Da er schon im Februar aus gesundheitlichen Gründen nicht mehr an den Parlamentsdebatten teilnehmen konnte, warnte er den Kanzler per Brief: »Die erste deutsche Demokratie ging zugrunde, weil die Demokraten der Mitte und der Rechten die Gefahr des braunen Faschismus nicht sahen oder nicht sehen wollten. Die zweite deutsche Demokratie, unsere Bundesrepublik, ist heute in ihrem Selbstverständnis und damit in ihrer Existenz gefährdet, weil nun die Demokraten der Linken die Gefahr des roten Faschismus verharmlosen.« Er wird im Rollstuhl zur Wahlurne gefahren, auf dem Stimmzettel hat er »Nein« angekreuzt.

In seinen letzten Wochen kann er sich bei völliger geistiger Klarheit nur noch mit Handzeichen verständlich machen. Am 4. Oktober 1972 stirbt Guttenberg. Die Anhänger des Dienstes verlieren nicht nur den politischen Kampf im Parlament, sondern auch ihren wichtigsten Unterstützer.
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Stauffenberg hält jedoch an seinem Informationsdienst fest. Er erschließt neue Quellen für den Dienst, löst sich bald vom Thema der Ostpolitik. Ein Insider attestiert seinem Netzwerk Anfang der achtziger Jahre, hochprofessionell zu arbeiten.

Von: Stefanie Waske
02.12.2012 – 08:26 Uhr

Find this story at 2 December 2012

Quelle: ZEITmagazin, 29.11.2012 Nr. 49
© ZEIT ONLINE GmbH

Illegal spy agency operated in West Germany, new book claims

Conservative politicians in Cold-War West Germany set up an illegal domestic intelligence agency in order to spy on their political rivals, a forthcoming book claims. In Destroy After Reading: The Secret Intelligence Service of the CDU and CSU, German journalist Stefanie Waske exposes what she says was an elaborate plot to undermine West Germany’s rapprochement with Soviet-dominated Eastern Europe. The book, which is scheduled for publication in February of 2013, claims that the illegal intelligence agency, known as ‘the Little Service’, was set up by politicians from Germany’s conservative Christian Democratic Union (CDU) and its sister organization, the Christian Social Union of Bavaria (CSU). The two parties allegedly founded ‘the Little Service’ in 1969, in response to the election of Willy Brandt as German Chancellor in 1969. Brandt, who was leader of the center-left Social Democratic Party of Germany (SDP), was elected based on a program of normalizing West Germany’s relations with Eastern Europe. Under this policy, which became known as ‘Neue Ostpolitik’ (‘new eastern policy’), Brandt radically transformed West German foreign policy on Eastern Europe. In 1970, just months after his election, he signed an extensive peace agreement with the Soviet Union, known as the Treaty of Moscow, which was followed later that year by the so-called Treaty of Warsaw. Under the latter agreement, West Germany officially recognized the existence and borders of the People’s Republic of Poland. Brandt’s Neue Ostpolitik, which continued until the end of his tenure in the Chancellery in 1974, earned him the Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts to achieve reconciliation between West Germany and the countries of the Soviet bloc, primarily East Germany. But Brandt’s policy of rapprochement alarmed the CDU/CSU coalition, says Waske, which quickly set up ‘the Little Service’ by enlisting former members of Germany’s intelligence community. Intelligence operatives were allegedly tasked with infiltrating the SPD and Brandt’s administration and collecting inside intelligence, which could then be used to subvert both the party and its leader. According to Waske, ‘the Little Service’ eventually established operational links with conservative groups and individuals abroad, including Henry Kissinger, who at the time was National Security Adviser to United States President Richard Nixon.

December 6, 2012 by Joseph Fitsanakis Leave a comment

By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |

Find this story at 6 December 2012

Details emerge of CDU’s private spy service

West Germany’s Christian Democrats ran a intelligence service staffed by aristocrats and former Nazis during the 1970s, hoping to undermine Chancellor Willy Brandt’s policy of engagement with the communist East.
Israeli premier arrives in Berlin for tense talks (5 Dec 12)
Conservatives reject tax equality for gay couples (5 Dec 12)
Merkel: only I can steer Germany in rough seas (4 Dec 12)

The shadowy network had close ties with US President Richard Nixon’s foreign policy Svengali Henry Kissinger, who offered advice, and even discussed whether it was a good idea for the conservatives to usurp the government.

Political scientist Stefanie Waske spent seven years researching letters from politicians from the Christian Democratic Union and its Bavarian sister party the Christian Social Union – many of which concerned what they described as the “little service” – and will publish her full findings in a book early next year.

Some of those involved are still alive – but Kissinger for example, and the CDU/CSU, have refused to comment on the revelations, or even confirm what they did, Waske says.

It was the 1969 West German election which prompted the conservatives to set up their own secret service. They were kicked out of power for the first time since the establishment of the Federal Republic – and saw former allies the Free Democrats join Brandt’s centre-left Social Democrats to form a government.

Fear of Ostpolitik

The conservatives were fearful and mistrustful of his policy of talking with the Soviets and sending his secretary of state Egon Bahr to negotiate a treaty to swap West German recognition of post-war borders for a promise to not use violence against each other.

Conservative MP Karl Theodor Freiherr zu Guttenberg, (grandfather of the disgraced former defence minister) held a meeting in autumn 1969, not long after the election, with former chancellor Kurt Georg Kiesinger, Hans Globke who had served as chief of staff to Konrad Adenauer, and the CSU chairman Franz Josef Strauß.

They decided to form an “information service for the opposition,” a later note recorded, according to Waske’s work, which was explained in detail by the latest edition of weekly newspaper Die Zeit.

Being fresh out of office and extremely well-connected, they were able to call upon real spies to set it up for them, and contacted the former head of the foreign intelligence agency the BND for help. He offered up the BND’s own network of informants across the globe which he had established, including agents in the US, France, Austria, Italy, the Vatican, Arabic countries, Romania, the USSR and even at the United Nations.

Familiar names and aristocrats

The man they chose to head this new network was a BND staffer, Hans Christoph von Stauffenberg, cousin of Klaus, who had been killed after trying to assassinate Hitler.

Others who were brought into the scheme included Casimir Prince of Sayn-Wittgenstein, who would later play a leading role in and only narrowly miss imprisonment for the CDU’s party donation scandal. Suitably enough, he was in charge or raising hundreds of thousands of Deutsche marks to fund the spy service and he did so by tapping up his friends in industry.

One of the strongest links this service had was with Henry Kissinger, National Security Advisor under US President Richard Nixon, and later his Secretary of State. Ahead of the 1970 German-Soviet agreement, he and Brandt’s negotiator Bahr had agreed to open a back channel of informal information so the Americans could keep tabs on what the Soviets were saying.

But, Waske says, Kissinger was not confident Bahr was being candid, and it seems his office was feeding the information to the German conservatives. The Treaty of Moscow was signed, possibly confirming the fears of the CDU/CSU leaders that Brandt was doing business with the Soviets.

Stauffenberg went about his work, collecting information from sources around the world, including Brussels, London and Paris – as well as Romania and Yugoslavia, Taiwan and Cuba, and of course, the United States.

Meanwhile the position of treasurer was taken over by Alfred Seidl, formerly a Nazi party member out of conviction who not only acted as Rudolf Heß’s defence lawyer but also spend years fighting for him to be freed.

Advice from Kissinger

By the end of 1970, Kissinger was offering the conservatives’ spies advice on how to deal with the Social Democratic government. One agent who visited him quoted him saying, “It might be possible to overthrow the current government, but it remains to be seen whether this would involve risks which could put a CDU/CSU government in great difficulties.”

And he suggested the conservative opposition use delaying tactics to slow the ratification of the Treaty of Moscow in order to shift responsibility for its adoption firmly onto the government, rather than sharing it.

Published: 3 Dec 12 07:51 CET

The Local/hc

Find this story at 3 December 2012

© The Local Europe GmbH

Nominee Directors Linked to Intelligence, Military

Companies making use of offshore secrecy include firm that supplied surveillance software used by repressive regimes.

A number of so-called nominee directors of companies registered in the British Virgin Islands (BVI) have connections to military or intelligence activities, an investigation has revealed.

In the past, the British arms giant BAE was the most notorious user of offshore secrecy. The Guardian in 2003 revealed the firm had set up a pair of covert BVI entities.

The undeclared subsidiaries were used to distribute hundreds of millions of pounds in secret payments to get overseas arms contracts.

Today the investigation by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists and the Guardian uncovers the identities of other offshore operators.

Louthean Nelson owns the Gamma Group, a controversial computer surveillance firm employing ex-military personnel. It sells bugging technology to Middle East and south-east Asian governments.

Nelson owns a BVI offshore arm, Gamma Group International Ltd.

Gamma’s spyware, which can be used against dissidents, has turned up in the hands of both Egyptian and Bahraini state security police, although Nelson’s representative claims this happened inadvertently.

He initially denied to us that Nelson was linked to Gamma, and denied that Nelson owned the anonymous BVI affiliate.

Martin Muench, who has a 15 per cent share in the company’s German subsidiary, said he was the group’s sole press spokesman, and told us: “Louthean Nelson is not associated with any company by the name of Gamma Group International Ltd. If by chance you are referring to any other Gamma company, then the explanation is the same for each and every one of them.”

After he was confronted with evidence obtained by the ICIJ/Guardian investigation, Muench changed his position. He told us: “You are absolutely right, apparently there is a Gamma Group International Ltd.”

He added: “So in effect I was wrong – sorry. However I did not say that Louthean Nelson was not associated with any Gamma company, only the one that I thought did not exist.”

Nelson set up his BVI offshoot in 2007, using an agency, BizCorp Management Pte, located in Singapore. His spokesman claimed the BVI company was not involved in sales of Gamma’s “Finfisher” spyware. But he refused to disclose the entity’s purpose.

Earlier this year, computer researchers in California told the New York Times they had discovered Finfisher being run from servers in Singapore, Indonesia, Brunei, Mongolia and a government ministry in Turkmenistan. The spying software was previously proved to have infected the computers of political activists in Bahrain, which Louthean Nelson visited in June 2006.

The Finfisher progamme is marketed as a technique for so-called “IT intrusion”. The code disguises itself as a software update or an email attachment, which the target victim is unaware will transmit back all his or her transactions and keystrokes.

Gamma calls itself “a government contractor to state intelligence and law enforcement agencies for … high-quality surveillance vans” and telephone tapping of all kinds.

Activists’ investigations into Finfisher originally began in March 2011, after protesters who broke into Egypt’s state security headquarters discovered documents showing the bugging system was being marketed to the then president Hosni Mubarak’s regime, at a price of $353,000.

Muench said demonstration copies of the Finfisher software must have been “stolen”. He refused to identify Gamma’s customers.

Nelson’s father, Bill Nelson, is described as the CEO of the UK Gamma, which sells a range of covert surveillance equipment from a modern industrial estate outside Andover in Hampshire, near the family home in the village of Winterbourne Earls.

In September this year, the German foreign minister, Guido Westerwelle, called for an EU-wide ban on the export of such surveillance software to totalitarian states. “These regimes should not get the technical instruments to spy on their own citizens,” Westerwelle said.

The UK has now agreed that future Finfisher exports from Andover to questionable regimes will need government permission.

Other types of anonymous offshore user we have identified in this area include a south London private detective, Gerry Moore, who operated Swiss bank accounts. He did not respond to invitations to comment.

Another private intelligence agency, Ciex, was used as a postbox by the financier Julian Askin to set up a covert entity registered in the Cook Islands, called Pastech. He too did not respond to invitations to comment.

An ex-CIA officer and a South African mercenary soldier, John Walbridge and Mauritz Le Roux, used London agents to set up a series of BVI-registered companies in 2005, after obtaining bodyguarding contracts in Iraq and Afghanistan. Le Roux told us one of his reasons was to accommodate “local partnerships” in foreign countries. Walbridge did not respond.

A former BAE software engineer from Hull, John Cunningham, says he set up his own offshore BVI company in the hope of selling helicopter drones for purely civilian use.

Now based in Thailand, he previously designed military avionics for Britain’s Hawk and Typhoon war planes.

He told us: “That account was set up by my ‘friend’ in Indonesia who does aerial mapping with small UAVs [unmanned aerial vehicles]. He was going to pay me a commission through that account … However, this was my first attempt to work in Asia and as I have found, money tends to be not forthcoming. I have never used that account.”
The military and intelligence register

Gerry Moore

Company: GM Property Developments, LHM Property Holdings

Story: South London private detective sets up BVI companies with Swiss bank accounts

Details: Moore founded “Thames Investigation Services”, later “Thames Associates”, in Blackheath, south London. He opened a Swiss bank account with UBS Basel in 1998. In 2007, he sought to open another account with Credit Suisse, Zurich, for his newly-registered BVI entity GM Property Developments. He sought to register a second offshore company, LHM Property Holdings, using his wife Linda’s initials.

Intermediary: Netincorp. BVI (Damien Fong)

Comment: No response. Thames Associates website taken down after Guardian approaches.

John Walbridge and Mauritz Le Roux

Companies: Overseas Security & Strategic Information Ltd, Remington Resources (Walbridge), Safenet UXO, Sparenberg, Gladeaway, Maplethorpe, Hawksbourne (Le Roux)

Story: Former CIA officer and South African ex-mercenary provide guards in Iraq and Afghanistan

Details: John H Walbridge Jr says he served with US special forces in Vietnam and then with the CIA in Brazil. His Miami-based private military company, OSSI Inc teamed up with South African ex-soldier and Executive Outcomes mercenary Mauritz Le Roux to win contracts in Kabul in 2005. Walbridge set up his 2 BVI entities with his wife Cassandra via a London agency in June and August 2005, and Le Roux incorporated 5 parallel BVI companies.

Intermediary: Alpha Offshore, London

Comment: Le Roux told us some of his offshore entities were kept available “in case we need to start up operations in a country where we would need to have local partnerships”. His joint venture with OSSI was based offshore in Dubai, he said, but used BVI entities ” to operate within a legal framework under British law, rather than the legal framework of the UAE”. Walbridge did not respond to invitations to comment.

Julian Askin

Company: Pastech

Story: Businessman used private intelligence agency to set up covert offshore entity in the Cook Islands

Details: Askin was a British football pools entrepreneur. He alleged Afrikaner conspiracies against him in South Africa, when his Tollgate transport group there collapsed. The apartheid regime failed to have him extradited, alleging fraud. He hired the Ciex agency to report on ABSA, the South African bank which foreclosed on him. Ciex was founded by ex-MI6 senior officer Michael Oatley along with ex-MI6 officer Hamilton Macmillan. In May 2000, they were used to help set up Pastech for their client in the obscure Pacific offshore location of Rarotonga, in the Cook Islands, with anonymous nominee directors and shareholders. Askin now lives in Semer, Suffolk.

Intermediary: Ciex, Buckingham Gate, London

Comment: He did not respond to invitations to comment.

Louthean Nelson

Company: Gamma Group International

Story: Gamma sells Finfisher round the world, spying software which infects a target’s computer.

Details: Nelson set up a UK company in 2007 on an Andover industrial estate, to make and sell Finfisher – a so-called Trojan which can remotely spy on a victim’s computer, by pretending to be a routine software update. He set up a parallel, more covert company with a similar name, registered in the BVI, via an agency in Singapore, using his father’s address at Winterbourne Earls, near Andover. He also sells to the Middle East via premises in Beirut. He ran into controversy last year when secret police in Egypt and Bahrain were alleged to have obtained Finfisher, which he denies knowingly supplying to them.

Intermediary: Bizcorp Management Pte Ltd, Singapore

Comment: His spokesman declines to say what was the purpose of the group’s BVI entity.

John Cunningham

Company: Aurilla International

Story: Military avionics software engineer from Hull with separate UK company, launches civilian venture in Indonesia

Details: Cunningham set up a BVI entity in 2007. His small UK company, On-Target Software Solutions Ltd has worked on “black boxes” for BAE Hawk and Typhoon warplanes, and does foreign consultancy. He also has interests in Thailand in a drone helicopter control system.

Intermediary: Allen & Bryans tax consultants, Singapore

Comment: Cunningham says the offshore account was never activated. “I actually make systems for civilian small UAVs (unmanned aerial vehicles). I have never sold to the military. That account was set up by my ‘friend’ in Indonesia who does aerial mapping with small UAVs. He was going to pay me a commission through that account”.

By David Leigh, Harold Frayman and James Ball November 28, 2012, 2:15 pm

Find This story at 28 November 2012

Copyright © 2012. The Center for Public Integrity®. All Rights Reserved. Read our privacy policy and the terms under which this service is provided to you.

Offshore company directors’ links to military and intelligence revealed

Companies making use of offshore secrecy include firm that supplied surveillance software used by repressive regimes

Bahraini protesters flee teargas. Activists’ computers in the country were infected with Finfisher spying software. Photograph: Mohammed al-Shaikh/AFP/Getty Images

A number of nominee directors of companies registered in the British Virgin Islands (BVI) have connections to military or intelligence activities, an investigation has revealed.

In the past, the British arms giant BAE was the most notorious user of offshore secrecy. The Guardian in 2003 revealed the firm had set up a pair of covert BVI entities. The undeclared subsidiaries were used to distribute hundreds of millions of pounds in secret payments to get overseas arms contracts.

Today the investigation by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) and the Guardian uncovers the identities of other offshore operators.

Louthean Nelson owns the Gamma Group, a controversial computer surveillance firm employing ex-military personnel. It sells bugging technology to Middle East and south-east Asian governments. Nelson owns a BVI offshore arm, Gamma Group International Ltd.

Gamma’s spyware, which can be used against dissidents, has turned up in the hands of Egyptian and Bahraini state security police, although Nelson’s representative claims this happened inadvertently. He initially denied to us that Nelson was linked to Gamma, and denied that Nelson owned the anonymous BVI affiliate. Martin Muench, who has a 15% share in the company’s German subsidiary, said he was the group’s sole press spokesman, and told us: “Louthean Nelson is not associated with any company by the name of Gamma Group International Ltd. If by chance you are referring to any other Gamma company, then the explanation is the same for each and every one of them.”

After he was confronted with evidence obtained by the Guardian/ICIJ investigation, Muench changed his position. He told us: “You are absolutely right, apparently there is a Gamma Group International Ltd. So in effect I was wrong – sorry. However I did not say that Louthean Nelson was not associated with any Gamma company, only the one that I thought did not exist.”

Nelson set up his BVI offshoot in 2007, using an agency, BizCorp Management Pte, located in Singapore. His spokesman claimed the BVI company was not involved in sales of Gamma’s Finfisher spyware. But he refused to disclose the entity’s purpose.

Earlier this year, computer researchers in California told the New York Times they had discovered Finfisher being run from servers in Singapore, Indonesia, Brunei, Mongolia and a government ministry in Turkmenistan. The spying software was previously proved to have infected the computers of political activists in Bahrain, which Nelson visited in June 2006.

The Finfisher programme is marketed as a technique for so-called “IT intrusion”. The code disguises itself as a software update or an email attachment, which the target victim is unaware will transmit back all his or her transactions and keystrokes. Gamma calls itself “a government contractor to state intelligence and law enforcement agencies for … high-quality surveillance vans” and telephone tapping of all kinds.

Activists’ investigations into Finfisher began in March 2011, after protesters who broke into Egypt’s state security headquarters discovered documents showing the bugging system was being marketed to the then president Hosni Mubarak’s regime, at a price of $353,000.

Muench said demonstration copies of the software must have been stolen. He refused to identify Gamma’s customers.

Nelson’s father, Bill Nelson, is described as the CEO of the UK Gamma, which sells a range of covert surveillance equipment from a modern industrial estate outside Andover, Hampshire, near the family home in the village of Winterbourne Earls, Wiltshire.

In September, the German foreign minister, Guido Westerwelle, called for an EU-wide ban on the export of such surveillance software to totalitarian states. “These regimes should not get the technical instruments to spy on their own citizens,” he said. The UK has now agreed that future Finfisher exports from Andover to questionable regimes will need government permission.

Other types of anonymous offshore user we have identified in this area include a south London private detective, Gerry Moore, who operated Swiss bank accounts. He did not respond to invitations to comment.

Another private intelligence agency, Ciex, was used as a postbox by the financier Julian Askin to set up a covert entity registered in the Cook Islands, called Pastech. He too did not respond to invitations to comment.

An ex-CIA officer and a South African mercenary soldier, John Walbridge and Mauritz Le Roux, used London agents to set up a series of BVI-registered companies in 2005, after obtaining bodyguarding contracts in Iraq and Afghanistan. Le Roux told us one of his reasons was to accommodate “local partnerships” in foreign countries. Walbridge did not respond.

A former BAE software engineer from Hull, John Cunningham, says he set up his own offshore BVI company in the hope of selling helicopter drones for purely civilian use. Now based in Thailand, he previously designed military avionics for Britain’s Hawk and Typhoon war planes. He told us: “That account was set up by my ‘friend’ in Indonesia who does aerial mapping with small UAVs [unmanned aerial vehicles]. He was going to pay me a commission through that account … However, this was my first attempt to work in Asia and as I have found, money tends to be not forthcoming. I have never used that account.”

The military and intelligence register
Gerry Moore

Company: GM Property Developments, LHM Property Holdings Story: south London private detective sets up BVI companies with Swiss bank accounts Details: Moore founded “Thames Investigation Services”, later “Thames Associates”, in Blackheath, south London. He opened a Swiss bank account with UBS Basel in 1998. In 2007, he sought to open another account with Credit Suisse, Zurich, for his newly registered BVI entity GM Property Developments. He sought to register a second offshore company, LHM Property Holdings, using his wife Linda’s initials.

Intermediary: Netincorp. BVI (Damien Fong)

Comment: No response. Thames Associates website taken down after Guardian approaches.

John Walbridge and Mauritz le Roux

Companies: Overseas Security & Strategic Information Ltd, Remington Resources (Walbridge), Safenet UXO, Sparenberg, Gladeaway, Maplethorpe, Hawksbourne (Le Roux)

Story: former CIA officer and South African ex-mercenary provide guards in Iraq and Afghanistan Details: John H Walbridge Jr says he served with US special forces in Vietnam and then with the CIA in Brazil. His Miami-based private military company OSSI Inc teamed up with the South African ex-soldier and Executive Outcomes mercenary Mauritz le Roux to win contracts in Kabul in 2005. Walbridge set up his two BVI entities with his wife, Cassandra, via a London agency in June and August 2005, and Le Roux incorporated five parallel BVI companies.

Intermediary: Alpha Offshore, London Comment: Le Roux told us some of his offshore entities were kept available “in case we need to start up operations in a country where we would need to have local partnerships”. His joint venture with OSSI was based offshore in Dubai, he said, but used BVI entities “to operate within a legal framework under British law, rather than the legal framework of the UAE”. Walbridge did not respond to invitations to comment.

Julian Askin

Company: Pastech Story: exiled businessman used a private intelligence agency to set up covert offshore entity in the Cook Islands Details: Askin was a British football pools entrepreneur. He alleged Afrikaner conspiracies against him in South Africa, when his Tollgate transport group there collapsed. The apartheid regime failed to have him extradited, alleging fraud. He hired the Ciex agency to report on ABSA, the South African bank which foreclosed on him. Ciex was founded by the ex-MI6 senior officer Michael Oatley along with ex-MI6 officer Hamilton Macmillan. In May 2000, they were used to help set up Pastech for their client in the obscure Pacific offshore location of Rarotonga, in the Cook Islands, with anonymous nominee directors and shareholders. Askin now lives in Semer, Suffolk.

Intermediary: Ciex, Buckingham Gate, London Comment: he did not respond to invitations to comment.

Louthean Nelson

Company: Gamma Group International Story: Gamma sells Finfisher around the world, spying software which infects a target’s computer.

Details: Nelson set up a UK company in 2007 on an Andover industrial estate to make and sell Finfisher – a so-called Trojan which can remotely spy on a victim’s computer by pretending to be a routine software update. He set up a parallel, more covert company with a similar name, registered in the BVI, via an agency in Singapore, using his father’s address at Winterbourne Earls, near Andover. He also sells to the Middle East via premises in Beirut. He ran into controversy last year when secret police in Egypt and Bahrain were alleged to have obtained Finfisher, which he denies knowingly supplying to them.

Intermediary: Bizcorp Management Pte Ltd, Singapore Comment: his spokesman declines to say what was the purpose of the group’s BVI entity.

John Cunningham

Company: Aurilla International Story: military avionics software engineer from Hull with separate UK company launches civilian venture in Indonesia Details: Cunningham set up a BVI entity in 2007. His small UK company, On-Target Software Solutions Ltd, has worked on “black boxes” for BAE Hawk and Typhoon war planes, and does foreign consultancy. He also has interests in Thailand in a drone helicopter control system.

David Leigh
The Guardian, Wednesday 28 November 2012 19.35 GMT

Find this story at 28 November 2012

© 2012 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved.

‘Unacceptable force’ used by G4S staff deporting pregnant woman

Disclosure in first report of prisons inspector on UK Border Agency’s ‘family-friendly’ Cedars unit near Gatwick

G4S staff manage security and the facilities at Cedars, the UK Border Agency’s holding centre near Gatwick for families facing deportation. Photograph: David Jones/PA

A pregnant woman in a wheelchair was tipped up and had her feet held by staff from G4S, the firm behind the Olympics security shambles, as she was forcibly removed from the country. The disclosure comes in the first report into conditions at a new centre designed to hold families facing deportation from the UK.

Nick Hardwick, the chief inspector of prisons, and his team made an unannounced inspection of Cedars, the UK Border Agency’s new pre-departure accommodation near Gatwick, where families are housed for the final 72 hours before they are removed from the UK.

Nick Clegg promised in the Liberal Democrats’ 2010 manifesto that he would put an end to the detention of children. Replacing the controversial Yarl’s Wood detention centre with Cedars was at the heart of the coalition’s family-friendly removal policy.

Hardwick said the unit is “an exceptional facility [which] has many practices which should be replicated in other areas of detention.”

“It is to the considerable credit of staff at Cedars that children held were, in general, happily occupied and that parents were able to concentrate on communication with solicitors, family and friends,” he added.

But inspectors also said unacceptable force was used when a pregnant woman was given a wheelchair in the departures area. When she resisted “substantial force” was used by G4S staff and the wheelchair “was tipped up with staff holding her feet”.

“At one point she slipped down from the chair and the risk of injury to the unborn child was significant,” the report said. “There is no safe way to use force against a pregnant woman, and to initiate it for the purpose of removal is to take an unacceptable risk.”

Inspectors also reported that although most work from family escort staff was commendable, they “observed unprofessional behaviour by an officer on a different escort in the hearing of children”.

The report also said that although “considerable efforts were made to avoid force at the point of removal, it had been used against six of the 39 families going through Cedars”.

Judith Dennis, policy officer at the Refugee Council, said: “The numbers of children in detention are increasing. The government acknowledged then how harmful this practice is for children, so why are they still continuing to do it?

Amelia Hill
The Guardian, Tuesday 23 October 2012

Find this story at 23 October 2012
© 2012 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved.

Is CIA Lying About its Blackwater Contacts?

After CIA director Leon Panetta revealed last summer that private contractor Blackwater was part of a covert CIA hit squad, tasked with summary killings and assassinations of al-Qaeda operatives, the CIA vowed to sever its contacts with the trigger-happy security firm. But did it do so? It doesn’t look like it. Last November, it became known that the company, (recently renamed Xe Services) remains part of a covert CIA program in Pakistan that includes planned assassinations and kidnappings of Taliban and al-Qaeda suspects. More recently, it was revealed that two of the seven Americans who died in the December 30 bomb attack at Forward Operating Base Chapman in Khost, Afghanistan, were actually Blackwater employees subcontracted by the CIA.

The question is, why were these two Blackwater employees present during a sensitive security debriefing at the base, involving the entire leadership of the CIA team there, and even the Agency’s second-in-command in Afghanistan? As Nation magazine’s Jeremy Scahill correctly points out, “the fact that two Blackwater personnel were in such close proximity to the […] suicide bomber shows how deeply enmeshed Blackwater remains in sensitive CIA operations, including those CIA officials claim it no longer participates in, such as intelligence gathering and briefings with valuable agency assets”.

January 8, 2010 by intelNews 11 Comments

By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |

Find this story at 8 Januari 2010 

Tycoon, Contractor, Soldier, Spy

Erik Prince, recently outed as a participant in a C.I.A. assassination program, has gained notoriety as head of the military-contracting juggernaut Blackwater, a company dogged by a grand-jury investigation, bribery accusations, and the voluntary-manslaughter trial of five ex-employees, set for next month. Lashing back at his critics, the wealthy former navy seal takes the author inside his operation in the U.S. and Afghanistan, revealing the role he’s been playing in America’s war on terror.

Erik Prince, founder of the Blackwater security firm (recently renamed Xe), at the company’s Virginia offices. Photograph by Nigel Parry.

I put myself and my company at the C.I.A.’s disposal for some very risky missions,” says Erik Prince as he surveys his heavily fortified, 7,000-acre compound in rural Moyock, North Carolina. “But when it became politically expedient to do so, someone threw me under the bus.” Prince—the founder of Blackwater, the world’s most notorious private military contractor—is royally steamed. He wants to vent. And he wants you to hear him vent.

Erik Prince has an image problem—the kind that’s impervious to a Madison Avenue makeover. The 40-year-old heir to a Michigan auto-parts fortune, and a former navy seal, he has had the distinction of being vilified recently both in life and in art. In Washington, Prince has become a scapegoat for some of the Bush administration’s misadventures in Iraq—though Blackwater’s own deeds have also come in for withering criticism. Congressmen and lawyers, human-rights groups and pundits, have described Prince as a war profiteer, one who has assembled a rogue fighting force capable of toppling governments. His employees have been repeatedly accused of using excessive, even deadly force in Iraq; many Iraqis, in fact, have died during encounters with Blackwater. And in November, as a North Carolina grand jury was considering a raft of charges against the company, as a half-dozen civil suits were brewing in Virginia, and as five former Blackwater staffers were preparing for trial for their roles in the deaths of 17 Iraqis, The New York Times reported in a page-one story that Prince’s firm, in the aftermath of the tragedy, had sought to bribe Iraqi officials for their compliance, charges which Prince calls “lies … undocumented, unsubstantiated [and] anonymous.” (So infamous is the Blackwater brand that even the Taliban have floated far-fetched conspiracy theories, accusing the company of engaging in suicide bombings in Pakistan.)

In Hollywood, meanwhile, a town that loves nothing so much as a good villain, Prince, with his blond crop and Daniel Craig mien, has become the screenwriters’ darling. In the film State of Play, a Blackwater clone (PointCorp.) uses its network of mercenaries for illegal surveillance and murder. On the Fox series 24, Jon Voight has played Jonas Hodges, a thinly veiled version of Prince, whose company (Starkwood) helps an African warlord procure nerve gas for use against U.S. targets.

But the truth about Prince may be orders of magnitude stranger than fiction. For the past six years, he appears to have led an astonishing double life. Publicly, he has served as Blackwater’s C.E.O. and chairman. Privately, and secretly, he has been doing the C.I.A.’s bidding, helping to craft, fund, and execute operations ranging from inserting personnel into “denied areas”—places U.S. intelligence has trouble penetrating—to assembling hit teams targeting al-Qaeda members and their allies. Prince, according to sources with knowledge of his activities, has been working as a C.I.A. asset: in a word, as a spy. While his company was busy gleaning more than $1.5 billion in government contracts between 2001 and 2009—by acting, among other things, as an overseas Praetorian guard for C.I.A. and State Department officials—Prince became a Mr. Fix-It in the war on terror. His access to paramilitary forces, weapons, and aircraft, and his indefatigable ambition—the very attributes that have galvanized his critics—also made him extremely valuable, some say, to U.S. intelligence. (Full disclosure: In the 1990s, before becoming a journalist for CBS and then NBC News, I was a C.I.A. attorney. My contract was not renewed, under contentious circumstances.)

But Prince, with a new administration in power, and foes closing in, is finally coming in from the cold. This past fall, though he infrequently grants interviews, he decided it was time to tell his side of the story—to respond to the array of accusations, to reveal exactly what he has been doing in the shadows of the U.S. government, and to present his rationale. He also hoped to convey why he’s going to walk away from it all.

To that end, he invited Vanity Fair to his training camp in North Carolina, to his Virginia offices, and to his Afghan outposts. It seemed like a propitious time to tag along.
Split Personality

Erik Prince can be a difficult man to wrap your mind around—an amalgam of contradictory caricatures. He has been branded a “Christian supremacist” who sanctions the murder of Iraqi civilians, yet he has built mosques at his overseas bases and supports a Muslim orphanage in Afghanistan. He and his family have long backed conservative causes, funded right-wing political candidates, and befriended evangelicals, but he calls himself a libertarian and is a practicing Roman Catholic. Sometimes considered arrogant and reclusive—Howard Hughes without the O.C.D.—he nonetheless enters competitions that combine mountain-biking, beach running, ocean kayaking, and rappelling.

The common denominator is a relentless intensity that seems to have no Off switch. Seated in the back of a Boeing 777 en route to Afghanistan, Prince leafs through Defense News while the film Taken beams from the in-flight entertainment system. In the movie, Liam Neeson plays a retired C.I.A. officer who mounts an aggressive rescue effort after his daughter is kidnapped in Paris. Neeson’s character warns his daughter’s captors:

If you are looking for ransom, I can tell you I don’t have money. But what I do have are a very particular set of skills … skills that make me a nightmare for people like you. If you [don’t] let my daughter go now … I will look for you, I will find you, and I will kill you.

Prince comments, “I used that movie as a teaching tool for my girls.” (The father of seven, Prince remarried after his first wife died of cancer in 2003.) “I wanted them to understand the dangers out there. And I wanted them to know how I would respond.”

You can’t escape the impression that Prince sees himself as somehow destined, his mission anointed. It comes out even in the most personal of stories. During the flight, he tells of being in Kabul in September 2008 and receiving a two a.m. call from his wife, Joanna. Prince’s son Charlie, one year old at the time, had fallen into the family swimming pool. Charlie’s brother Christian, then 12, pulled him out of the water, purple and motionless, and successfully performed CPR. Christian and three siblings, it turns out, had recently received Red Cross certification at the Blackwater training camp.

But there are intimations of a higher power at work as the story continues. Desperate to get home, Prince scrapped one itinerary, which called for a stay-over at the Marriott in Islamabad, and found a direct flight. That night, at the time Prince would have been checking in, terrorists struck the hotel with a truck bomb, killing more than 50. Prince says simply, “Christian saved Charlie’s life and Charlie saved mine.” At times, his sense of his own place in history can border on the evangelical. When pressed about suggestions that he’s a mercenary—a term he loathes—he rattles off the names of other freelance military figures, even citing Lafayette, the colonists’ ally during the Revolutionary War.

Prince’s default mode is one of readiness. He is clenched-jawed and tightly wound. He cannot stand down. Waiting in the security line at Dulles airport just hours before, Prince had delivered a little homily: “Every time an American goes through security, I want them to pause for a moment and think, What is my government doing to inconvenience the terrorists? Rendition teams, Predator drones, assassination squads. That’s all part of it.”

Such brazenness is not lost on a listener, nor is the fact that Prince himself is quite familiar with some of these tactics. In fact Prince, like other contractors, has drawn fire for running a company that some call a “body shop”—many of its staffers having departed military or intelligence posts to take similar jobs at much higher salaries, paid mainly by Uncle Sam. And to get those jobs done—protecting, defending, and killing, if required—Prince has had to employ the services of some decorated vets as well as some ruthless types, snipers and spies among them.

Erik Prince flies coach internationally. It’s not just economical (“Why should I pay for business? Fly coach, you arrive at the same time”) but also less likely to draw undue attention. He considers himself a marked man. Prince describes the diplomats and dignitaries Blackwater protects as “Al Jazeera–worthy,” meaning that, in his view, “bin Laden and his acolytes would love to kill them in a spectacular fashion and have it broadcast on televisions worldwide.”

Stepping off the plane at Kabul’s international airport, Prince is treated as if he, too, were Al Jazeera–worthy. He is immediately shuffled into a waiting car and driven 50 yards to a second vehicle, a beat-up minivan that is native to the core: animal pelts on the dashboard, prayer card dangling from the rearview mirror. Blackwater’s special-projects team is responsible for Prince’s security in-country, and except for their language its men appear indistinguishable from Afghans. They have full beards, headscarves, and traditional knee-length shirts over baggy trousers. They remove Prince’s sunglasses, fit him out with body armor, and have him change into Afghan garb. Prince is issued a homing beacon that will track his movements, and a cell phone with its speed dial programmed for Blackwater’s tactical-operations center.

Prince in the tactical-operations center at a company base in Kabul. Photograph by Adam Ferguson.

Once in the van, Prince’s team gives him a security briefing. Using satellite photos of the area, they review the route to Blackwater’s compound and point out where weapons and ammunition are stored inside the vehicle. The men warn him that in the event that they are incapacitated or killed in an ambush Prince should assume control of the weapons and push the red button near the emergency brake, which will send out a silent alarm and call in reinforcements.
Black Hawks and Zeppelins

Blackwater’s origins were humble, bordering on the primordial. The company took form in the dismal peat bogs of Moyock, North Carolina—not exactly a hotbed of the defense-contracting world.

In 1995, Prince’s father, Edgar, died of a heart attack (the Evangelical James C. Dobson, founder of the socially conservative Focus on the Family, delivered the eulogy at the funeral). Edgar Prince left behind a vibrant auto-parts manufacturing business in Holland, Michigan, with 4,500 employees and a line of products ranging from a lighted sun visor to a programmable garage-door opener. At the time, 25-year-old Erik was serving as a navy seal (he saw service in Haiti, the Middle East, and Bosnia), and neither he nor his sisters were in a position to take over the business. They sold Prince Automotive for $1.35 billion.

Erik Prince and some of his navy friends, it so happens, had been kicking around the idea of opening a full-service training compound to replace the usual patchwork of such facilities. In 1996, Prince took an honorable discharge and began buying up land in North Carolina. “The idea was not to be a defense contractor per se,” Prince says, touring the grounds of what looks and feels like a Disneyland for alpha males. “I just wanted a first-rate training facility for law enforcement, the military, and, in particular, the special-operations community.”

Business was slow. The navy seals came early—January 1998—but they didn’t come often, and by the time the Blackwater Lodge and Training Center officially opened, that May, Prince’s friends and advisers thought he was throwing good money after bad. “A lot of people said, ‘This is a rich kid’s hunting lodge,’” Prince explains. “They could not figure out what I was doing.”

Blackwater outpost near the Pakistan border, used for training Afghan police. Photograph by Adam Ferguson.

Today, the site is the flagship for a network of facilities that train some 30,000 attendees a year. Prince, who owns an unmanned, zeppelin-esque airship and spent $45 million to build a fleet of customized, bomb-proof armored personnel carriers, often commutes to the lodge by air, piloting a Cessna Caravan from his home in Virginia. The training center has a private landing strip. Its hangars shelter a petting zoo of aircraft: Bell 412 helicopters (used to tail or shuttle diplomats in Iraq), Black Hawk helicopters (currently being modified to accommodate the security requests of a Gulf State client), a Dash 8 airplane (the type that ferries troops in Afghanistan). Amid the 52 firing ranges are virtual villages designed for addressing every conceivable real-world threat: small town squares, littered with blown-up cars, are situated near railway crossings and maritime mock-ups. At one junction, swat teams fire handguns, sniper rifles, and shotguns; at another, police officers tear around the world’s longest tactical-driving track, dodging simulated roadside bombs.

In keeping with the company’s original name, the central complex, constructed of stone, glass, concrete, and logs, actually resembles a lodge, an REI store on steroids. Here and there are distinctive touches, such as door handles crafted from imitation gun barrels. Where other companies might have Us Weekly lying about the lobby, Blackwater has counterterror magazines with cover stories such as “How to Destroy Al Qaeda.”

In fact, it was al-Qaeda that put Blackwater on the map. In the aftermath of the group’s October 2000 bombing of the U.S.S. Cole, in Yemen, the navy turned to Prince, among others, for help in re-training its sailors to fend off attackers at close range. (To date, the company says, it has put some 125,000 navy personnel through its programs.) In addition to providing a cash infusion, the navy contract helped Blackwater build a database of retired military men—many of them special-forces veterans—who could be called upon to serve as instructors.

When al-Qaeda attacked the U.S. mainland on 9/11, Prince says, he was struck with the urge to either re-enlist or join the C.I.A. He says he actually applied. “I was rejected,” he admits, grinning at the irony of courting the very agency that would later woo him. “They said I didn’t have enough hard skills, enough time in the field.” Undeterred, he decided to turn his Rolodex into a roll call for what would in essence become a private army.

After the terror attacks, Prince’s company toiled, even reveled, in relative obscurity, taking on assignments in Afghanistan and, after the U.S. invasion, in Iraq. Then came March 31, 2004. That was the day insurgents ambushed four of its employees in the Iraqi town of Fallujah. The men were shot, their bodies set on fire by a mob. The charred, hacked-up remains of two of them were left hanging from a bridge over the Euphrates.

“It was absolutely gut-wrenching,” Prince recalls. “I had been in the military, and no one under my command had ever died. At Blackwater, we had never even had a firearms training accident. Now all of a sudden four of my guys aren’t just killed, but desecrated.” Three months later an edict from coalition authorities in Baghdad declared private contractors immune from Iraqi law.

Subsequently, the contractors’ families sued Blackwater, contending the company had failed to protect their loved ones. Blackwater countersued the families for breaching contracts that forbid the men or their estates from filing such lawsuits; the company also claimed that, because it operates as an extension of the military, it cannot be held responsible for deaths in a war zone. (After five years, the case remains unresolved.) In 2007, a congressional investigation into the incident concluded that the employees had been sent into an insurgent stronghold “without sufficient preparation, resources, and support.” Blackwater called the report a “one-sided” version of a “tragic incident.”

After Fallujah, Blackwater became a household name. Its primary mission in Iraq had been to protect American dignitaries, and it did so, in part, by projecting an image of invincibility, sending heavily armed men in armored Suburbans racing through the streets of Baghdad with sirens blaring. The show of swagger and firepower, which alienated both the locals and the U.S. military, helped contribute to the allegations of excessive force. As the war dragged on, charges against the firm mounted. In one case, a contractor shot and killed an Iraqi father of six who was standing along the roadside in Hillah. (Prince later told Congress that the contractor was fired for trying to cover up the incident.) In another, a Blackwater firearms technician was accused of drinking too much at a party in the Green Zone and killing a bodyguard assigned to protect Iraq’s vice president. The technician was fired but not prosecuted and later settled a wrongful-death suit with the man’s family.

Those episodes, however, paled in comparison with the events of September 16, 2007, when a phalanx of Blackwater bodyguards emerged from their four-car convoy at a Baghdad intersection called Nisour Square and opened fire. When the smoke cleared, 17 Iraqi civilians lay dead. After 15 months of investigation, the Justice Department charged six with voluntary manslaughter and other offenses, insisting that the use of force was not only unjustified but unprovoked. One guard pleaded guilty and, in a trial set for February, is expected to testify against the others, all of whom maintain their innocence. The New York Times recently reported that in the wake of the shootings the company’s top executives authorized secret payments of about $1 million to Iraqi higher-ups in order to buy their silence—a claim Prince dismisses as “false,” insisting “[there was] zero plan or discussion of bribing any officials.”

Nisour Square had disastrous repercussions for Blackwater. Its role in Iraq was curtailed, its revenue dropping 40 percent. Today, Prince claims, he is shelling out $2 million a month in legal fees to cope with a spate of civil lawsuits as well as what he calls a “giant proctological exam” by nearly a dozen federal agencies. “We used to spend money on R&D to develop better capabilities to serve the U.S. government,” says Prince. “Now we pay lawyers.”

Does he ever. In North Carolina, a federal grand jury is investigating various allegations, including the illegal transport of assault weapons and silencers to Iraq, hidden in dog-food sacks. (Blackwater denied this, but confirmed hiding weapons on pallets of dog food to protect against theft by “corrupt foreign customs agents.”) In Virginia, two ex-employees have filed affidavits claiming that Prince and Blackwater may have murdered or ordered the murder of people suspected of cooperating with U.S. authorities investigating the company—charges which Blackwater has characterized as “scandalous and baseless.” One of the men also asserted in filings that company employees ran a sex and wife-swapping ring, allegations which Blackwater has called “anonymous, unsubstantiated and offensive.”

Meanwhile, last February, Prince mounted an expensive rebranding campaign. Following the infamous ValuJet crash, in 1996, ValuJet disappeared into AirTran, after a merger, and moved on to a happy new life. Prince, likewise, decided to retire the Blackwater name and replace it with the name Xe, short for Xenon—an inert, non-combustible gas that, in keeping with his political leanings, sits on the far right of the periodic table. Still, Prince and other top company officials continued to use the name Blackwater among themselves. And as events would soon prove, the company’s reputation would remain as combustible as ever.

Prince at a Kandahar airfield. Photograph Adam Ferguson.

Spies and Whispers

Last June, C.I.A. director Leon Panetta met in a closed session with the House and Senate intelligence committees to brief them on a covert-action program, which the agency had long concealed from Congress. Panetta explained that he had learned of the existence of the operation only the day before and had promptly shut it down. The reason, C.I.A. spokesman Paul Gimigliano now explains: “It hadn’t taken any terrorists off the street.” During the meeting, according to two attendees, Panetta named both Erik Prince and Blackwater as key participants in the program. (When asked to verify this account, Gimigliano notes that “Director Panetta treats as confidential discussions with Congress that take place behind closed doors.”) Soon thereafter, Prince says, he began fielding inquisitive calls from people he characterizes as far outside the circle of trust.

It took three weeks for details, however sketchy, to surface. In July, The Wall Street Journal described the program as “an attempt to carry out a 2001 presidential authorization to capture or kill al Qaeda operatives.” The agency reportedly planned to accomplish this task by dispatching small hit teams overseas. Lawmakers, who couldn’t exactly quibble with the mission’s objective, were in high dudgeon over having been kept in the dark. (Former C.I.A. officials reportedly saw the matter differently, characterizing the program as “more aspirational than operational” and implying that it had never progressed far enough to justify briefing the Hill.)

On August 20, the gloves came off. The New York Times published a story headlined cia sought blackwater’s help to kill jihadists. The Washington Post concurred: cia hired firm for assassin program. Prince confesses to feeling betrayed. “I don’t understand how a program this sensitive leaks,” he says. “And to ‘out’ me on top of it?” The next day, the Times went further, revealing Blackwater’s role in the use of aerial drones to kill al-Qaeda and Taliban leaders: “At hidden bases in Pakistan and Afghanistan … the company’s contractors assemble and load Hellfire missiles and 500-pound laser-guided bombs on remotely piloted Predator aircraft, work previously performed by employees of the Central Intelligence Agency.”

E
rik Prince, almost overnight, had undergone a second rebranding of sorts, this one not of his own making. The war profiteer had become a merchant of death, with a license to kill on the ground and in the air. “I’m an easy target,” he says. “I’m from a Republican family and I own this company outright. Our competitors have nameless, faceless management teams.”

Prince blames Democrats in Congress for the leaks and maintains that there is a double standard at play. “The left complained about how [C.I.A. operative] Valerie Plame’s identity was compromised for political reasons. A special prosecutor [was even] appointed. Well, what happened to me was worse. People acting for political reasons disclosed not only the existence of a very sensitive program but my name along with it.” As in the Plame case, though, the leaks prompted C.I.A. attorneys to send a referral to the Justice Department, requesting that a criminal investigation be undertaken to identify those responsible for providing highly classified information to the media.

By focusing so intently on Blackwater, Congress and the press overlooked the elephant in the room. Prince wasn’t merely a contractor; he was, insiders say, a full-blown asset. Three sources with direct knowledge of the relationship say that the C.I.A.’s National Resources Division recruited Prince in 2004 to join a secret network of American citizens with special skills or unusual access to targets of interest. As assets go, Prince would have been quite a catch. He had more cash, transport, matériel, and personnel at his disposal than almost anyone Langley would have run in its 62-year history.

The C.I.A. won’t comment further on such assertions, but Prince himself is slightly more forthcoming. “I was looking at creating a small, focused capability,” he says, “just like Donovan did years ago”—the reference being to William “Wild Bill” Donovan, who, in World War II, served as the head of the Office of Strategic Services, the precursor of the modern C.I.A. (Prince’s youngest son, Charles Donovan—the one who fell into the pool—is named after Wild Bill.) Two sources familiar with the arrangement say that Prince’s handlers obtained provisional operational approval from senior management to recruit Prince and later generated a “201 file,” which would have put him on the agency’s books as a vetted asset. It’s not at all clear who was running whom, since Prince says that, unlike many other assets, he did much of his work on spec, claiming to have used personal funds to road-test the viability of certain operations. “I grew up around the auto industry,” Prince explains. “Customers would say to my dad, ‘We have this need.’ He would then use his own money to create prototypes to fulfill those needs. He took the ‘If you build it, they will come’ approach.”

According to two sources familiar with his work, Prince was developing unconventional means of penetrating “hard target” countries—where the C.I.A. has great difficulty working either because there are no stations from which to operate or because local intelligence services have the wherewithal to frustrate the agency’s designs. “I made no money whatsoever off this work,” Prince contends. He is unwilling to specify the exact nature of his forays. “I’m painted as this war profiteer by Congress. Meanwhile I’m paying for all sorts of intelligence activities to support American national security, out of my own pocket.” (His pocket is deep: according to The Wall Street Journal, Blackwater had revenues of more than $600 million in 2008.)

Clutch Cargo

The Afghan countryside, from a speeding perch at 200 knots, whizzes by in a khaki haze. The terrain is rendered all the more nondescript by the fact that Erik Prince is riding less than 200 feet above it. The back of the airplane, a small, Spanish-built eads casa C-212, is open, revealing Prince in silhouette against a blue sky. Wearing Oakleys, tactical pants, and a white polo shirt, he looks strikingly boyish.

A Blackwater aircraft en route to drop supplies to U.S. Special Forces in Afghanistan in September. Photograph by Adam Ferguson.

As the crew chief initiates a countdown sequence, Prince adjusts his harness and moves into position. When the “go” order comes, a young G.I. beside him cuts a tether, and Prince pushes a pallet out the tail chute. Black parachutes deploy and the aircraft lunges forward from the sudden weight differential. The cargo—provisions and munitions—drops inside the perimeter of a forward operating base (fob) belonging to an elite Special Forces squad.

Five days a week, Blackwater’s aviation arm—with its unabashedly 60s-spook name, Presidential Airways—flies low-altitude sorties to some of the most remote outposts in Afghanistan. Since 2006, Prince’s company has been conscripted to offer this “turnkey” service for U.S. troops, flying thousands of delivery runs. Blackwater also provides security for U.S. ambassador Karl Eikenberry and his staff, and trains narcotics and Afghan special police units.

Once back on terra firma, Prince, a BlackBerry on one hip and a 9-mm. on the other, does a sweep around one of Blackwater’s bases in northeast Afghanistan, pointing out buildings recently hit by mortar fire. As a drone circles overhead, its camera presumably trained on the surroundings, Prince climbs a guard tower and peers down at a spot where two of his contractors were nearly killed last July by an improvised explosive device. “Not counting civilian checkpoints,” he says, “this is the closest base to the [Pakistani] border.” His voice takes on a melodramatic solemnity. “Who else has built a fob along the main infiltration route for the Taliban and the last known location for Osama bin Laden?” It doesn’t quite have the ring of Lawrence of Arabia’s “To Aqaba!,” but you get the picture.
Going “Low-Pro”

Blackwater has been in Afghanistan since 2002. At the time, the C.I.A.’s executive director, A. B. “Buzzy” Krongard, responding to his operatives’ complaints of being “worried sick about the Afghans’ coming over the fence or opening the doors,” enlisted the company to offer protection for the agency’s Kabul station. Going “low-pro,” or low-profile, paid off: not a single C.I.A. employee, according to sources close to the company, died in Afghanistan while under Blackwater’s protection. (Talk about a tight-knit bunch. Krongard would later serve as an unpaid adviser to Blackwater’s board, until 2007. And his brother Howard “Cookie” Krongard—the State Department’s inspector general—had to recuse himself from Blackwater-related oversight matters after his brother’s involvement with the company surfaced. Buzzy, in response, stepped down.)

As the agency’s confidence in Blackwater grew, so did the company’s responsibilities, expanding from static protection to mobile security—shadowing agency personnel, ever wary of suicide bombers, ambushes, and roadside devices, as they moved about the country. By 2005, Blackwater, accustomed to guarding C.I.A. personnel, was starting to look a little bit like the C.I.A. itself. Enrique “Ric” Prado joined Blackwater after serving as chief of operations for the agency’s Counterterrorism Center (CTC). A short time later, Prado’s boss, J. Cofer Black, the head of the CTC, moved over to Blackwater, too. He was followed, in turn, by his superior, Rob Richer, second-in-command of the C.I.A.’s clandestine service. Of the three, Cofer Black had the outsize reputation. As Bob Woodward recounted in his book Bush at War, on September 13, 2001, Black had promised President Bush that when the C.I.A. was through with al-Qaeda “they will have flies walking across their eyeballs.” According to Woodward, “Black became known in Bush’s inner circle as the ‘flies-on-the-eyeballs guy.’” Richer and Black soon helped start a new company, Total Intelligence Solutions (which collects data to help businesses assess risks overseas), but in 2008 both men left Blackwater, as did company president Gary Jackson this year.

Prince in his Virginia office. His company took in more than $1 billion from government contracts during the George W. Bush era. Photograph by Nigel Parry.

Off and on, Black and Richer’s onetime partner Ric Prado, first with the C.I.A., then as a Blackwater employee, worked quietly with Prince as his vice president of “special programs” to provide the agency with what every intelligence service wants: plausible deniability. Shortly after 9/11, President Bush had issued a “lethal finding,” giving the C.I.A. the go-ahead to kill or capture al-Qaeda members. (Under an executive order issued by President Gerald Ford, it had been illegal since 1976 for U.S. intelligence operatives to conduct assassinations.) As a seasoned case officer, Prado helped implement the order by putting together a small team of “blue-badgers,” as government agents are known. Their job was threefold: find, fix, and finish. Find the designated target, fix the person’s routine, and, if necessary, finish him off. When the time came to train the hit squad, the agency, insiders say, turned to Prince. Wary of attracting undue attention, the team practiced not at the company’s North Carolina compound but at Prince’s own domain, an hour outside Washington, D.C. The property looks like an outpost of the landed gentry, with pastures and horses, but also features less traditional accents, such as an indoor firing range. Once again, Prince has Wild Bill on his mind, observing that “the O.S.S. trained during World War II on a country estate.”

Among the team’s targets, according to a source familiar with the program, was Mamoun Darkazanli, an al-Qaeda financier living in Hamburg who had been on the agency’s radar for years because of his ties to three of the 9/11 hijackers and to operatives convicted of the 1998 bombings of U.S. Embassies in East Africa. The C.I.A. team supposedly went in “dark,” meaning they did not notify their own station—much less the German government—of their presence; they then followed Darkazanli for weeks and worked through the logistics of how and where they would take him down. Another target, the source says, was A. Q. Khan, the rogue Pakistani scientist who shared nuclear know-how with Iran, Libya, and North Korea. The C.I.A. team supposedly tracked him in Dubai. In both cases, the source insists, the authorities in Washington chose not to pull the trigger. Khan’s inclusion on the target list, however, would suggest that the assassination effort was broader than has previously been acknowledged. (Says agency spokesman Gimigliano, “[The] C.I.A. hasn’t discussed—despite some mischaracterizations that have appeared in the public domain—the substance of this effort or earlier ones.”)

The source familiar with the Darkazanli and Khan missions bristles at public comments that current and former C.I.A. officials have made: “They say the program didn’t move forward because [they] didn’t have the right skill set or because of inadequate cover. That’s untrue. [The operation continued] for a very long time in some places without ever being discovered. This program died because of a lack of political will.”

W
hen Prado left the C.I.A., in 2004, he effectively took the program with him, after a short hiatus. By that point, according to sources familiar with the plan, Prince was already an agency asset, and the pair had begun working to privatize matters by changing the team’s composition from blue-badgers to a combination of “green-badgers” (C.I.A. contractors) and third-country nationals (unaware of the C.I.A. connection). Blackwater officials insist that company resources and manpower were never directly utilized—these were supposedly off-the-books initiatives done on Prince’s own dime, for which he was later reimbursed—and that despite their close ties to the C.I.A. neither Cofer Black nor Rob Richer took part. As Prince puts it, “We were building a unilateral, unattributable capability. If it went bad, we weren’t expecting the chief of station, the ambassador, or anyone to bail us out.” He insists that, had the team deployed, the agency would have had full operational control. Instead, due to what he calls “institutional osteoporosis,” the second iteration of the assassination program lost steam.

Sometime after 2006, the C.I.A. would take another shot at the program, according to an insider who was familiar with the plan. “Everyone found some reason not to participate,” says the insider. “There was a sick-out. People would say to management, ‘I have a family, I have other obligations.’ This is the fucking C.I.A. They were supposed to lead the charge after al-Qaeda and they couldn’t find the people to do it.” Others with knowledge of the program are far more charitable and question why any right-thinking officer would sign up for an assassination program at a time when their colleagues—who had thought they had legal cover to engage in another sensitive effort, the “enhanced interrogations” program at secret C.I.A. sites in foreign countries—were finding themselves in legal limbo.

America and Erik Prince, it seems, have been slow to extract themselves from the assassination business. Beyond the killer drones flown with Blackwater’s help along the Afghanistan-Pakistan border (President Obama has reportedly authorized more than three dozen such hits), Prince claims he and a team of foreign nationals helped find and fix a target in October 2008, then left the finishing to others. “In Syria,” he says, “we did the signals intelligence to geo-locate the bad guys in a very denied area.” Subsequently, a U.S. Special Forces team launched a helicopter-borne assault to hunt down al-Qaeda middleman Abu Ghadiyah. Ghadiyah, whose real name is Badran Turki Hishan Al-Mazidih, was said to have been killed along with six others—though doubts have emerged about whether Ghadiyah was even there that day, as detailed in a recent Vanity Fair Web story by Reese Ehrlich and Peter Coyote.

And up until two months ago—when Prince says the Obama administration pulled the plug—he was still deeply engaged in the dark arts. According to insiders, he was running intelligence-gathering operations from a secret location in the United States, remotely coordinating the movements of spies working undercover in one of the so-called Axis of Evil countries. Their mission: non-disclosable.
Exit Strategy

Flying out of Kabul, Prince does a slow burn, returning to the topic of how exposed he has felt since press accounts revealed his role in the assassination program. The firestorm that began in August has continued to smolder and may indeed have his handlers wondering whether Prince himself is more of a liability than an asset. He says he can’t understand why they would shut down certain high-risk, high-payoff collection efforts against some of America’s most implacable enemies for fear that his involvement could, given the political climate, result in their compromise.

He is incredulous that U.S. officials seem willing, in effect, to cut off their nose to spite their face. “I’ve been overtly and covertly serving America since I started in the armed services,” Prince observes. After 12 years building the company, he says he intends to turn it over to its employees and a board, and exit defense contracting altogether. An internal power struggle is said to be under way among those seeking to define the direction and underlying mission of a post-Prince Blackwater.

He insists, simply, “I’m through.”

In the past, Prince has entertained the idea of building a pre-positioning ship—complete with security personnel, doctors, helicopters, medicine, food, and fuel—and stationing it off the coast of Africa to provide “relief with teeth” to the continent’s trouble spots or to curb piracy off Somalia. At one point, he considered creating a rapidly deployable brigade that could be farmed out, for a fee, to a foreign government.

For the time being, however, Prince contends that his plans are far more modest. “I’m going to teach high school,” he says, straight-faced. “History and economics. I may even coach wrestling. Hey, Indiana Jones taught school, too.”

Stepping off the plane at Kabul’s international airport, Prince is treated as if he, too, were Al Jazeera–worthy. He is immediately shuffled into a waiting car and driven 50 yards to a second vehicle, a beat-up minivan that is native to the core: animal pelts on the dashboard, prayer card dangling from the rearview mirror. Blackwater’s special-projects team is responsible for Prince’s security in-country, and except for their language its men appear indistinguishable from Afghans. They have full beards, headscarves, and traditional knee-length shirts over baggy trousers. They remove Prince’s sunglasses, fit him out with body armor, and have him change into Afghan garb. Prince is issued a homing beacon that will track his movements, and a cell phone with its speed dial programmed for Blackwater’s tactical-operations center.

Prince in the tactical-operations center at a company base in Kabul. Photograph by Adam Ferguson.

Once in the van, Prince’s team gives him a security briefing. Using satellite photos of the area, they review the route to Blackwater’s compound and point out where weapons and ammunition are stored inside the vehicle. The men warn him that in the event that they are incapacitated or killed in an ambush Prince should assume control of the weapons and push the red button near the emergency brake, which will send out a silent alarm and call in reinforcements.
Black Hawks and Zeppelins

Blackwater’s origins were humble, bordering on the primordial. The company took form in the dismal peat bogs of Moyock, North Carolina—not exactly a hotbed of the defense-contracting world.

In 1995, Prince’s father, Edgar, died of a heart attack (the Evangelical James C. Dobson, founder of the socially conservative Focus on the Family, delivered the eulogy at the funeral). Edgar Prince left behind a vibrant auto-parts manufacturing business in Holland, Michigan, with 4,500 employees and a line of products ranging from a lighted sun visor to a programmable garage-door opener. At the time, 25-year-old Erik was serving as a navy seal (he saw service in Haiti, the Middle East, and Bosnia), and neither he nor his sisters were in a position to take over the business. They sold Prince Automotive for $1.35 billion.

Erik Prince and some of his navy friends, it so happens, had been kicking around the idea of opening a full-service training compound to replace the usual patchwork of such facilities. In 1996, Prince took an honorable discharge and began buying up land in North Carolina. “The idea was not to be a defense contractor per se,” Prince says, touring the grounds of what looks and feels like a Disneyland for alpha males. “I just wanted a first-rate training facility for law enforcement, the military, and, in particular, the special-operations community.”

Business was slow. The navy seals came early—January 1998—but they didn’t come often, and by the time the Blackwater Lodge and Training Center officially opened, that May, Prince’s friends and advisers thought he was throwing good money after bad. “A lot of people said, ‘This is a rich kid’s hunting lodge,’” Prince explains. “They could not figure out what I was doing.”

Blackwater outpost near the Pakistan border, used for training Afghan police. Photograph by Adam Ferguson.

Today, the site is the flagship for a network of facilities that train some 30,000 attendees a year. Prince, who owns an unmanned, zeppelin-esque airship and spent $45 million to build a fleet of customized, bomb-proof armored personnel carriers, often commutes to the lodge by air, piloting a Cessna Caravan from his home in Virginia. The training center has a private landing strip. Its hangars shelter a petting zoo of aircraft: Bell 412 helicopters (used to tail or shuttle diplomats in Iraq), Black Hawk helicopters (currently being modified to accommodate the security requests of a Gulf State client), a Dash 8 airplane (the type that ferries troops in Afghanistan). Amid the 52 firing ranges are virtual villages designed for addressing every conceivable real-world threat: small town squares, littered with blown-up cars, are situated near railway crossings and maritime mock-ups. At one junction, swat teams fire handguns, sniper rifles, and shotguns; at another, police officers tear around the world’s longest tactical-driving track, dodging simulated roadside bombs.

In keeping with the company’s original name, the central complex, constructed of stone, glass, concrete, and logs, actually resembles a lodge, an REI store on steroids. Here and there are distinctive touches, such as door handles crafted from imitation gun barrels. Where other companies might have Us Weekly lying about the lobby, Blackwater has counterterror magazines with cover stories such as “How to Destroy Al Qaeda.”

In fact, it was al-Qaeda that put Blackwater on the map. In the aftermath of the group’s October 2000 bombing of the U.S.S. Cole, in Yemen, the navy turned to Prince, among others, for help in re-training its sailors to fend off attackers at close range. (To date, the company says, it has put some 125,000 navy personnel through its programs.) In addition to providing a cash infusion, the navy contract helped Blackwater build a database of retired military men—many of them special-forces veterans—who could be called upon to serve as instructors.

When al-Qaeda attacked the U.S. mainland on 9/11, Prince says, he was struck with the urge to either re-enlist or join the C.I.A. He says he actually applied. “I was rejected,” he admits, grinning at the irony of courting the very agency that would later woo him. “They said I didn’t have enough hard skills, enough time in the field.” Undeterred, he decided to turn his Rolodex into a roll call for what would in essence become a private army.

After the terror attacks, Prince’s company toiled, even reveled, in relative obscurity, taking on assignments in Afghanistan and, after the U.S. invasion, in Iraq. Then came March 31, 2004. That was the day insurgents ambushed four of its employees in the Iraqi town of Fallujah. The men were shot, their bodies set on fire by a mob. The charred, hacked-up remains of two of them were left hanging from a bridge over the Euphrates.

“It was absolutely gut-wrenching,” Prince recalls. “I had been in the military, and no one under my command had ever died. At Blackwater, we had never even had a firearms training accident. Now all of a sudden four of my guys aren’t just killed, but desecrated.” Three months later an edict from coalition authorities in Baghdad declared private contractors immune from Iraqi law.

Subsequently, the contractors’ families sued Blackwater, contending the company had failed to protect their loved ones. Blackwater countersued the families for breaching contracts that forbid the men or their estates from filing such lawsuits; the company also claimed that, because it operates as an extension of the military, it cannot be held responsible for deaths in a war zone. (After five years, the case remains unresolved.) In 2007, a congressional investigation into the incident concluded that the employees had been sent into an insurgent stronghold “without sufficient preparation, resources, and support.” Blackwater called the report a “one-sided” version of a “tragic incident.”

After Fallujah, Blackwater became a household name. Its primary mission in Iraq had been to protect American dignitaries, and it did so, in part, by projecting an image of invincibility, sending heavily armed men in armored Suburbans racing through the streets of Baghdad with sirens blaring. The show of swagger and firepower, which alienated both the locals and the U.S. military, helped contribute to the allegations of excessive force. As the war dragged on, charges against the firm mounted. In one case, a contractor shot and killed an Iraqi father of six who was standing along the roadside in Hillah. (Prince later told Congress that the contractor was fired for trying to cover up the incident.) In another, a Blackwater firearms technician was accused of drinking too much at a party in the Green Zone and killing a bodyguard assigned to protect Iraq’s vice president. The technician was fired but not prosecuted and later settled a wrongful-death suit with the man’s family.

Those episodes, however, paled in comparison with the events of September 16, 2007, when a phalanx of Blackwater bodyguards emerged from their four-car convoy at a Baghdad intersection called Nisour Square and opened fire. When the smoke cleared, 17 Iraqi civilians lay dead. After 15 months of investigation, the Justice Department charged six with voluntary manslaughter and other offenses, insisting that the use of force was not only unjustified but unprovoked. One guard pleaded guilty and, in a trial set for February, is expected to testify against the others, all of whom maintain their innocence. The New York Times recently reported that in the wake of the shootings the company’s top executives authorized secret payments of about $1 million to Iraqi higher-ups in order to buy their silence—a claim Prince dismisses as “false,” insisting “[there was] zero plan or discussion of bribing any officials.”

Nisour Square had disastrous repercussions for Blackwater. Its role in Iraq was curtailed, its revenue dropping 40 percent. Today, Prince claims, he is shelling out $2 million a month in legal fees to cope with a spate of civil lawsuits as well as what he calls a “giant proctological exam” by nearly a dozen federal agencies. “We used to spend money on R&D to develop better capabilities to serve the U.S. government,” says Prince. “Now we pay lawyers.”

Does he ever. In North Carolina, a federal grand jury is investigating various allegations, including the illegal transport of assault weapons and silencers to Iraq, hidden in dog-food sacks. (Blackwater denied this, but confirmed hiding weapons on pallets of dog food to protect against theft by “corrupt foreign customs agents.”) In Virginia, two ex-employees have filed affidavits claiming that Prince and Blackwater may have murdered or ordered the murder of people suspected of cooperating with U.S. authorities investigating the company—charges which Blackwater has characterized as “scandalous and baseless.” One of the men also asserted in filings that company employees ran a sex and wife-swapping ring, allegations which Blackwater has called “anonymous, unsubstantiated and offensive.”

Meanwhile, last February, Prince mounted an expensive rebranding campaign. Following the infamous ValuJet crash, in 1996, ValuJet disappeared into AirTran, after a merger, and moved on to a happy new life. Prince, likewise, decided to retire the Blackwater name and replace it with the name Xe, short for Xenon—an inert, non-combustible gas that, in keeping with his political leanings, sits on the far right of the periodic table. Still, Prince and other top company officials continued to use the name Blackwater among themselves. And as events would soon prove, the company’s reputation would remain as combustible as ever.

Prince at a Kandahar airfield. Photograph Adam Ferguson.

Spies and Whispers

Last June, C.I.A. director Leon Panetta met in a closed session with the House and Senate intelligence committees to brief them on a covert-action program, which the agency had long concealed from Congress. Panetta explained that he had learned of the existence of the operation only the day before and had promptly shut it down. The reason, C.I.A. spokesman Paul Gimigliano now explains: “It hadn’t taken any terrorists off the street.” During the meeting, according to two attendees, Panetta named both Erik Prince and Blackwater as key participants in the program. (When asked to verify this account, Gimigliano notes that “Director Panetta treats as confidential discussions with Congress that take place behind closed doors.”) Soon thereafter, Prince says, he began fielding inquisitive calls from people he characterizes as far outside the circle of trust.

It took three weeks for details, however sketchy, to surface. In July, The Wall Street Journal described the program as “an attempt to carry out a 2001 presidential authorization to capture or kill al Qaeda operatives.” The agency reportedly planned to accomplish this task by dispatching small hit teams overseas. Lawmakers, who couldn’t exactly quibble with the mission’s objective, were in high dudgeon over having been kept in the dark. (Former C.I.A. officials reportedly saw the matter differently, characterizing the program as “more aspirational than operational” and implying that it had never progressed far enough to justify briefing the Hill.)

On August 20, the gloves came off. The New York Times published a story headlined cia sought blackwater’s help to kill jihadists. The Washington Post concurred: cia hired firm for assassin program. Prince confesses to feeling betrayed. “I don’t understand how a program this sensitive leaks,” he says. “And to ‘out’ me on top of it?” The next day, the Times went further, revealing Blackwater’s role in the use of aerial drones to kill al-Qaeda and Taliban leaders: “At hidden bases in Pakistan and Afghanistan … the company’s contractors assemble and load Hellfire missiles and 500-pound laser-guided bombs on remotely piloted Predator aircraft, work previously performed by employees of the Central Intelligence Agency.”

E
rik Prince, almost overnight, had undergone a second rebranding of sorts, this one not of his own making. The war profiteer had become a merchant of death, with a license to kill on the ground and in the air. “I’m an easy target,” he says. “I’m from a Republican family and I own this company outright. Our competitors have nameless, faceless management teams.”

Prince blames Democrats in Congress for the leaks and maintains that there is a double standard at play. “The left complained about how [C.I.A. operative] Valerie Plame’s identity was compromised for political reasons. A special prosecutor [was even] appointed. Well, what happened to me was worse. People acting for political reasons disclosed not only the existence of a very sensitive program but my name along with it.” As in the Plame case, though, the leaks prompted C.I.A. attorneys to send a referral to the Justice Department, requesting that a criminal investigation be undertaken to identify those responsible for providing highly classified information to the media.

By focusing so intently on Blackwater, Congress and the press overlooked the elephant in the room. Prince wasn’t merely a contractor; he was, insiders say, a full-blown asset. Three sources with direct knowledge of the relationship say that the C.I.A.’s National Resources Division recruited Prince in 2004 to join a secret network of American citizens with special skills or unusual access to targets of interest. As assets go, Prince would have been quite a catch. He had more cash, transport, matériel, and personnel at his disposal than almost anyone Langley would have run in its 62-year history.

The C.I.A. won’t comment further on such assertions, but Prince himself is slightly more forthcoming. “I was looking at creating a small, focused capability,” he says, “just like Donovan did years ago”—the reference being to William “Wild Bill” Donovan, who, in World War II, served as the head of the Office of Strategic Services, the precursor of the modern C.I.A. (Prince’s youngest son, Charles Donovan—the one who fell into the pool—is named after Wild Bill.) Two sources familiar with the arrangement say that Prince’s handlers obtained provisional operational approval from senior management to recruit Prince and later generated a “201 file,” which would have put him on the agency’s books as a vetted asset. It’s not at all clear who was running whom, since Prince says that, unlike many other assets, he did much of his work on spec, claiming to have used personal funds to road-test the viability of certain operations. “I grew up around the auto industry,” Prince explains. “Customers would say to my dad, ‘We have this need.’ He would then use his own money to create prototypes to fulfill those needs. He took the ‘If you build it, they will come’ approach.”

According to two sources familiar with his work, Prince was developing unconventional means of penetrating “hard target” countries—where the C.I.A. has great difficulty working either because there are no stations from which to operate or because local intelligence services have the wherewithal to frustrate the agency’s designs. “I made no money whatsoever off this work,” Prince contends. He is unwilling to specify the exact nature of his forays. “I’m painted as this war profiteer by Congress. Meanwhile I’m paying for all sorts of intelligence activities to support American national security, out of my own pocket.” (His pocket is deep: according to The Wall Street Journal, Blackwater had revenues of more than $600 million in 2008.)

Clutch Cargo

The Afghan countryside, from a speeding perch at 200 knots, whizzes by in a khaki haze. The terrain is rendered all the more nondescript by the fact that Erik Prince is riding less than 200 feet above it. The back of the airplane, a small, Spanish-built eads casa C-212, is open, revealing Prince in silhouette against a blue sky. Wearing Oakleys, tactical pants, and a white polo shirt, he looks strikingly boyish.

A Blackwater aircraft en route to drop supplies to U.S. Special Forces in Afghanistan in September. Photograph by Adam Ferguson.

As the crew chief initiates a countdown sequence, Prince adjusts his harness and moves into position. When the “go” order comes, a young G.I. beside him cuts a tether, and Prince pushes a pallet out the tail chute. Black parachutes deploy and the aircraft lunges forward from the sudden weight differential. The cargo—provisions and munitions—drops inside the perimeter of a forward operating base (fob) belonging to an elite Special Forces squad.

Five days a week, Blackwater’s aviation arm—with its unabashedly 60s-spook name, Presidential Airways—flies low-altitude sorties to some of the most remote outposts in Afghanistan. Since 2006, Prince’s company has been conscripted to offer this “turnkey” service for U.S. troops, flying thousands of delivery runs. Blackwater also provides security for U.S. ambassador Karl Eikenberry and his staff, and trains narcotics and Afghan special police units.

Once back on terra firma, Prince, a BlackBerry on one hip and a 9-mm. on the other, does a sweep around one of Blackwater’s bases in northeast Afghanistan, pointing out buildings recently hit by mortar fire. As a drone circles overhead, its camera presumably trained on the surroundings, Prince climbs a guard tower and peers down at a spot where two of his contractors were nearly killed last July by an improvised explosive device. “Not counting civilian checkpoints,” he says, “this is the closest base to the [Pakistani] border.” His voice takes on a melodramatic solemnity. “Who else has built a fob along the main infiltration route for the Taliban and the last known location for Osama bin Laden?” It doesn’t quite have the ring of Lawrence of Arabia’s “To Aqaba!,” but you get the picture.
Going “Low-Pro”

Blackwater has been in Afghanistan since 2002. At the time, the C.I.A.’s executive director, A. B. “Buzzy” Krongard, responding to his operatives’ complaints of being “worried sick about the Afghans’ coming over the fence or opening the doors,” enlisted the company to offer protection for the agency’s Kabul station. Going “low-pro,” or low-profile, paid off: not a single C.I.A. employee, according to sources close to the company, died in Afghanistan while under Blackwater’s protection. (Talk about a tight-knit bunch. Krongard would later serve as an unpaid adviser to Blackwater’s board, until 2007. And his brother Howard “Cookie” Krongard—the State Department’s inspector general—had to recuse himself from Blackwater-related oversight matters after his brother’s involvement with the company surfaced. Buzzy, in response, stepped down.)

As the agency’s confidence in Blackwater grew, so did the company’s responsibilities, expanding from static protection to mobile security—shadowing agency personnel, ever wary of suicide bombers, ambushes, and roadside devices, as they moved about the country. By 2005, Blackwater, accustomed to guarding C.I.A. personnel, was starting to look a little bit like the C.I.A. itself. Enrique “Ric” Prado joined Blackwater after serving as chief of operations for the agency’s Counterterrorism Center (CTC). A short time later, Prado’s boss, J. Cofer Black, the head of the CTC, moved over to Blackwater, too. He was followed, in turn, by his superior, Rob Richer, second-in-command of the C.I.A.’s clandestine service. Of the three, Cofer Black had the outsize reputation. As Bob Woodward recounted in his book Bush at War, on September 13, 2001, Black had promised President Bush that when the C.I.A. was through with al-Qaeda “they will have flies walking across their eyeballs.” According to Woodward, “Black became known in Bush’s inner circle as the ‘flies-on-the-eyeballs guy.’” Richer and Black soon helped start a new company, Total Intelligence Solutions (which collects data to help businesses assess risks overseas), but in 2008 both men left Blackwater, as did company president Gary Jackson this year.

Prince in his Virginia office. His company took in more than $1 billion from government contracts during the George W. Bush era. Photograph by Nigel Parry.

Off and on, Black and Richer’s onetime partner Ric Prado, first with the C.I.A., then as a Blackwater employee, worked quietly with Prince as his vice president of “special programs” to provide the agency with what every intelligence service wants: plausible deniability. Shortly after 9/11, President Bush had issued a “lethal finding,” giving the C.I.A. the go-ahead to kill or capture al-Qaeda members. (Under an executive order issued by President Gerald Ford, it had been illegal since 1976 for U.S. intelligence operatives to conduct assassinations.) As a seasoned case officer, Prado helped implement the order by putting together a small team of “blue-badgers,” as government agents are known. Their job was threefold: find, fix, and finish. Find the designated target, fix the person’s routine, and, if necessary, finish him off. When the time came to train the hit squad, the agency, insiders say, turned to Prince. Wary of attracting undue attention, the team practiced not at the company’s North Carolina compound but at Prince’s own domain, an hour outside Washington, D.C. The property looks like an outpost of the landed gentry, with pastures and horses, but also features less traditional accents, such as an indoor firing range. Once again, Prince has Wild Bill on his mind, observing that “the O.S.S. trained during World War II on a country estate.”

Among the team’s targets, according to a source familiar with the program, was Mamoun Darkazanli, an al-Qaeda financier living in Hamburg who had been on the agency’s radar for years because of his ties to three of the 9/11 hijackers and to operatives convicted of the 1998 bombings of U.S. Embassies in East Africa. The C.I.A. team supposedly went in “dark,” meaning they did not notify their own station—much less the German government—of their presence; they then followed Darkazanli for weeks and worked through the logistics of how and where they would take him down. Another target, the source says, was A. Q. Khan, the rogue Pakistani scientist who shared nuclear know-how with Iran, Libya, and North Korea. The C.I.A. team supposedly tracked him in Dubai. In both cases, the source insists, the authorities in Washington chose not to pull the trigger. Khan’s inclusion on the target list, however, would suggest that the assassination effort was broader than has previously been acknowledged. (Says agency spokesman Gimigliano, “[The] C.I.A. hasn’t discussed—despite some mischaracterizations that have appeared in the public domain—the substance of this effort or earlier ones.”)

The source familiar with the Darkazanli and Khan missions bristles at public comments that current and former C.I.A. officials have made: “They say the program didn’t move forward because [they] didn’t have the right skill set or because of inadequate cover. That’s untrue. [The operation continued] for a very long time in some places without ever being discovered. This program died because of a lack of political will.”

W
hen Prado left the C.I.A., in 2004, he effectively took the program with him, after a short hiatus. By that point, according to sources familiar with the plan, Prince was already an agency asset, and the pair had begun working to privatize matters by changing the team’s composition from blue-badgers to a combination of “green-badgers” (C.I.A. contractors) and third-country nationals (unaware of the C.I.A. connection). Blackwater officials insist that company resources and manpower were never directly utilized—these were supposedly off-the-books initiatives done on Prince’s own dime, for which he was later reimbursed—and that despite their close ties to the C.I.A. neither Cofer Black nor Rob Richer took part. As Prince puts it, “We were building a unilateral, unattributable capability. If it went bad, we weren’t expecting the chief of station, the ambassador, or anyone to bail us out.” He insists that, had the team deployed, the agency would have had full operational control. Instead, due to what he calls “institutional osteoporosis,” the second iteration of the assassination program lost steam.

Sometime after 2006, the C.I.A. would take another shot at the program, according to an insider who was familiar with the plan. “Everyone found some reason not to participate,” says the insider. “There was a sick-out. People would say to management, ‘I have a family, I have other obligations.’ This is the fucking C.I.A. They were supposed to lead the charge after al-Qaeda and they couldn’t find the people to do it.” Others with knowledge of the program are far more charitable and question why any right-thinking officer would sign up for an assassination program at a time when their colleagues—who had thought they had legal cover to engage in another sensitive effort, the “enhanced interrogations” program at secret C.I.A. sites in foreign countries—were finding themselves in legal limbo.

America and Erik Prince, it seems, have been slow to extract themselves from the assassination business. Beyond the killer drones flown with Blackwater’s help along the Afghanistan-Pakistan border (President Obama has reportedly authorized more than three dozen such hits), Prince claims he and a team of foreign nationals helped find and fix a target in October 2008, then left the finishing to others. “In Syria,” he says, “we did the signals intelligence to geo-locate the bad guys in a very denied area.” Subsequently, a U.S. Special Forces team launched a helicopter-borne assault to hunt down al-Qaeda middleman Abu Ghadiyah. Ghadiyah, whose real name is Badran Turki Hishan Al-Mazidih, was said to have been killed along with six others—though doubts have emerged about whether Ghadiyah was even there that day, as detailed in a recent Vanity Fair Web story by Reese Ehrlich and Peter Coyote.

And up until two months ago—when Prince says the Obama administration pulled the plug—he was still deeply engaged in the dark arts. According to insiders, he was running intelligence-gathering operations from a secret location in the United States, remotely coordinating the movements of spies working undercover in one of the so-called Axis of Evil countries. Their mission: non-disclosable.
Exit Strategy

By Adam Ciralsky

Find this story at Januari 2010

 

Vanity Fair © Condé Nast Digital. Your California Privacy Rights.

Blackwater/Academy settles weapons-smuggling charges

In the eyes of many, the United States-based security firm formerly known as Blackwater is synonymous with ‘scandal’. Founded in 1997 by self-confessed CIA agent Erik Prince, the company was awarded hundreds of millions of dollars in non-competitive contract bids by the Bush administration, to provide wide-ranging security services in Iraq. But the company’s ‘shoot-first-ask-questions-later’ attitude resulted in numerous bloody incidents in the country, including the 2007 Nisur Square massacre, in which at least 14 Iraqi civilians were killed by trigger-happy Blackwater guards. In 2009, a frustrated US Department of State refused to renew the company’s governmental contracts, after which Blackwater terminated its partnership with the US government (or did it?). What is perhaps less known about the company, now renamed to Academi LLC, is that it has for years been the subject of several investigations by US authorities for a host of criminal offences, ranging from selling secret plans to foreign governments to illicit weapons trafficking. According to court documents unsealed yesterday at the United States District Court in New Bern, North Carolina, Academi has agreed to pay $7.5 million to settle some of these charges. Under the agreement, the company has owned up to 17 different criminal violations with which it was charged after a five-year multi-agency federal investigation led by the Department of Justice. The charges include possessing unregistered fully automatic weapons in the US, illegally exporting encrypted satellite-telephone hardware to Sudan, training foreign nationals without a license, giving classified documents to foreign governments, as well as selling weapons to the Kingdom of Jordan without US government authorization and then lying about it to US federal firearms officials. It is worth noting that yesterday’s settlement was in addition to a separate $42 million settlement agreed in 2010 with the US Department of State. The latter had charged Blackwater/Academi with violating the US Arms Export Control and the International Trafficking in Arms Regulations Acts. Interestingly, the attorney for the US government, Thomas G. Walker, chose his words carefully yesterday in speaking publicly about the case. He said that the proceedings concluded “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”. But some of the investigators who actually worked on the ground in the case were far less diplomatic in their court testimony. Jeannine A. Hammett, a Special Agent and Criminal Investigator with the Internal Revenue Service, accused Blackwater/Academi’s senior leadership of breaking the trust of the American public by committing crimes “to line their own pockets”.

August 8, 2012 by intelNews 1 Comment

By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |

Find this story at 8 August 2012

New Blackwater Iraq Scandal: Guns, Silencers and Dog Food

Ex-employees Tell ABC News the Firm Used Dog Food Sacks to Smuggle Unauthorized Weapons to Iraq

A federal grand jury in North Carolina is investigating allegations the controversial private security firm Blackwater illegally shipped assault weapons and silencers to Iraq, hidden in large sacks of dog food, ABCNews.com has learned.

Under State Department rules, Blackwater is prohibited from using certain assault weapons and silencers in Iraq because they are considered “offensive” weapons inappropriate for Blackwater’s role as a private security firm protecting US diplomatic missions.

“The only reason you need a silencer is if you want to assassinate someone,” said former CIA intelligence officer John Kiriakou, an ABC News consultant.

Six Blackwater employees are under investigation by another federal grand jury, in Washington, D.C., in connection with the shooting deaths of at least 17 civilians in September 2007 at a Baghdad traffic circle. Prosecutors are expected to return indictments in the next few weeks, according to people familiar with the case.

The investigation of the alleged dog food smuggling scheme began last year after two Blackwater employees were caught trying to sell stolen weapons in North Carolina. The two, Kenneth Cashwell and William “Max” Grumiaux pleaded guilty in February and became government witnesses, according to court documents.

Two other former employees tell ABCNews.com they also witnessed the dog food smuggling operation. They say the weapons were actually hidden inside large sacks of dog food, packaged at company headquarters in North Carolina and sent to Iraq for the company’s 20 bomb-sniffing dogs.

Larger items, including M-4 assault weapons, were secreted on shipping pallets surrounded by stacks of dog food bags, the former employees said. The entire pallet would be wrapped in cellophane shrink wrap, the former employees said, making it less likely US Customs inspectors would look too closely.

In a statement, Blackwater did not address directly the allegations involving silencers but says “all firearms shipped to Iraq by Blackwater were given proper US government license.” The statement denied Blackwater owned or possessed any M4 weapons in Iraq.

US Army officials told ABCNews.com earlier this year, at least one Blackwater M4 weapon was discovered during a raid on an suspected insurgent location in Iraq.

Last year, a US Department of Commerce inspector at JFK airport in New York discovered a two-way radio hidden in a dog food sack being shipped by Blackwater to Iraq, according to people familiar with the incident.

Blackwater says the radio did not need a license and was hidden among the dog food sacks, not inside the dog food.

The company says it is a common practice “to prevent corrupt foreign customs agents and shipping workers from stealing the valuables.”

In addition to the grand jury investigation, Blackwater sources say the company is facing a multi-million dollar fine for some 900 instances in which it violated State Department licensing requirements for the export of certain weapons and technical know-how.

Blackwater acknowledged in its statements “numerous mistakes in complex and demanding area of export compliance,” saying most of the violations were failures of paperwork not “nefarious smuggling.”

Of the 900 cases, about 100 of them have been referred to the Department of Justice for possible criminal prosecution, according to lawyers briefed on the case.

By BRIAN ROSS and JASON RYAN

November 14, 2008—

Find this story at 14 November 2008

Copyright © 2012 ABC News Internet Ventures

Why did US Government Take Blackwater to Court?

Last week I gave a live television interview to the main news program of RT, about the company formerly known as Blackwater. As intelNews reported on August 8, the private military outfit, which rebranded itself to Academi in late 2011, agreed to pay $7.5 million to settle no fewer than 17 violations of United States federal laws, including several charges of illegal weapons exports. This was hardly the first time that the scandal-prone company made headlines for breaking the law. Last week’s settlement followed a separate $42 million settlement agreed in 2010 with the US Department of State. The latter had charged Blackwater/Academi with violating the US Arms Export Control and International Trafficking in Arms Regulations Acts. Those familiar with the murky world of private military contractors are aware that these companies are often hired by governments precisely because they are willing and able to break the law in pursuit of tactical directives. In fact, the main difference between Blackwater/Academi and other private military contractors is not its disregard for legal boundaries, but the lack of discretion with which it keeps breaking the law. This is precisely the reason why it regularly finds itself charged with a host of different criminal violations.

Now, there is little doubt that the services Blackwater/Academi provided to the US government in Iraq and Afghanistan far exceeded things such as VIP protection or tactical training. In one typical case, the company was found to have illegally shipped to Iraq weapon silencers, hidden among sacks of dog food intended for its K-9 unit. As I told RT news, one does not have to be an expert on the operational side of intelligence to realize that there is really only one thing you need gun silencers for —and it’s not VIP protection.

But if Blackwater/Academi resorted to breaking the law in order to assist the US government’s military or intelligence objectives in Iraq, Afghanistan, and elsewhere, why was it taken to court by that very government? The answer, as I told RT, has to do with the fact that governments —including America’s— are not monolithic. They are complex amalgamations of actors, often with competing interests, who fight for bureaucratic dominance as often as they collaborate in pursuit of common goals.

Blackwater/Academi is a case in point: the company has for over a decade had a very cozy relationship with certain elements of the US government apparatus, notably the CIA, the George W. Bush White House, and some offices in the State Department. But other governmental interest groups, including parts of the Pentagon, the Internal Revenue Service, as well as the Federal Bureau of Investigation, have been skeptical about Blackwater/Academi’s operations since even before 9/11. It is not surprising, therefore, that government agencies like the IRS or the FBI examine Blackwater/Academi’s role with reference to their own, narrow administrative goals, while disregarding the broader strategic benefits that others in the US government may attribute to these very operations. It is plausible, for instance, that by presenting the King of Jordan with a birthday present consisting of a case of state-of-the-art fully automatic weapons, Blackwater/Academi was acting as a conduit for the US Department of State or the CIA. The FBI, which has always considered Blackwater/Academi as a band of mercenary cowboys, could care less about the relationship between the Royal House of Jordan and the State Department. It therefore takes the company to court, and as in fact it did, for illegally exporting weapons to a foreign country.

August 13, 2012 by intelNews

By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |

Find this story at 13 August 2012

G4S ‘warned’ over killer security guard Danny Fitzsimons

Security firm G4S was sent warnings not to employ an armed guard in Iraq just days before he murdered two colleagues, a BBC investigation has found.

Private security guard Paul McGuigan, from the Scottish Borders, was shot dead by Danny Fitzsimons in 2009 in Baghdad while on a protection contract.

Another man, Australian Darren Hoare, was also killed.

All were working for UK contractor G4S, which was operating under the name ArmorGroup in the region.
Violent criminal

In a BBC documentary, it is revealed that a G4S worker sent a series of emails to the company in London, warning them about Fitzsimons’s previous convictions and unstable behaviour.

The anonymous whistleblower signed one email “a concerned member of the public and father”.

The worker warned G4S: “I am alarmed that he will shortly be allowed to handle a weapon and be exposed to members of the public.

“I am speaking out because I feel that people should not be put at risk.”

Another email, sent as Fitzsimons was due to start work in Baghdad, said: “Having made you aware of the issues regarding the violent criminal Danny Fitzsimons, it has been noted that you have not taken my advice and still choose to employ him in a position of trust.

“I have told you that he remains a threat and you have done nothing.”

Within 36 hours of arriving in Iraq in August 2009, Fitzsimons – a former paratrooper – had shot and killed the two men after what he claimed was a drunken brawl.

An Iraqi colleague was also wounded as Fitzsimons tried to flee the scene.

Fitzsimons had worked as a private security contractor before in Iraq, but he had been sacked for punching a client.

At the time he was taken on by G4S, Fitzsimons also had a criminal record, was facing outstanding charges of assault and a firearms offence, and had been diagnosed by doctors as having PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder).

In the documentary, the parents of Paul McGuigan call for the company to face criminal charges over the killing.

His mother Corinne Boyd-Russell, from Innerleithen in the Borders, said: “[Fitzsimons] fired the bullets. But the gun was put in his hand by G4S ArmorGroup. They put the gun in that man’s hand.

“I want G4S to be charged with corporate manslaughter and be held accountable for what they did.”

The parents of Danny Fitzsimons, who is serving 20 years in a Baghdad prison after being sentenced for the murders in February 2011, were also shocked to hear about the existence of the emails.

Liz Fitzsimons, from Manchester, said: “And they still took him out there? They [G4S] need to be taken to task for that.

“The people who we feel are responsible, who we hold responsible for putting that gun in Danny’s hand, are without a shadow of a doubt G4S.”

A G4S spokesman admitted that its screening of Danny Fitzsimons “was not completed in line with the company’s procedures”.

It said vetting had been tightened since the incident.

Regarding the email warnings, the spokesman G4S told the BBC it was aware of the allegations but that an internal investigation showed “no such emails were received by any member of our HR department”.

He did not say whether anyone else in the company had seen them.

An inquest into the death of Paul McGuigan, a former Royal Marine, is due to begin in December.

The revelations in the Fitzsimons case come just weeks after G4S found itself at the centre of a crisis over its inability to meet its commitment to recruit security staff for the Olympics in London.

It is the biggest security company in the world in an industry that is worth about £400bn globally.

Often controversial, the sector has been dogged by allegations of abuse and violence in countries such as Iraq and Afghanistan.

However, in the BBC documentary, Britain’s Private War, it reveals the growing extent to which the UK government relies on armed security companies to protect its interests overseas.

The UK has spent almost half a billion pounds on such firms since the end of the Iraq war in 2003.

Yet British companies – said to be the key players – remain unregulated.

The programme-makers heard stories of contractors being forced to work on dangerous missions with inadequate equipment, incident reports sanitised to protect company reputations and numerous deaths of former soldiers.

One security contractor, Bob Shepherd, said: “We know when a soldier dies it’s all over the newspapers, it’s on the TV. But we never know when security contractors die.

“For the companies it’s bad for business, for the government it’s hiding the true cost of these conflicts.

“If the British taxpayers knew the total numbers of people that have died on behalf of British security companies in places like Iraq and Afghanistan they would be shocked.”

Instead of formal regulation, the UK government has opted for the companies to set up their own body to monitor themselves, called the Security in Complex Environments Group (SCEG).

Chris Sanderson, the chairman of SCEG, told the programme his organisation did not have powers to punish poor behaviour.

Asked what action he would be able to take against companies which did not uphold the best standards, he said: “If they continue to operate underneath the radar, very little.

“What the majority of the industry is keen to do is to ensure that those companies who are behaving less professionally are identified and commercially disadvantaged.

“At the moment, signing an international code of conduct means nothing apart from perhaps a wish to differentiate themselves in the market place.

“In terms of substance and performance it means nothing.

“What will mean a great deal is when the standards are in the place and there is an independent verification of those standards.”

In a statement, the foreign Office said it was vital to work in partnership with the industry to effectively prevent abuses by private security companies abroad.

BBC Scotland Investigates: Britain’s Private War, BBC Two Scotland on Monday 1 October at 21:00 and soon after on the BBC iplayer.

Find this story at 1 October 2012

BBC © 2012 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

Briton Danny Fitzsimons jailed in Iraq for contractors’ murders

Danny Fitzsimons avoids death sentence but family say his PTSD meant he should never had been employed in a war zone

Danny Fitzsimons is escorted out of court after his sentencing in Baghdad. Photograph: Karim Kadim/AP

A former British soldier who claims to be suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder has been jailed for 20 years in Iraq for the murder of two fellow security contractors during a whisky-fuelled argument, becoming the first westerner convicted in the country since the 2003 invasion.

Danny Fitzsimons, 31, a former paratrooper from Middleton, Manchester, shot dead Briton Paul McGuigan and Australian Darren Hoare, colleagues at the UK security firm ArmorGroup, now part of G4S, and injured an Iraqi security guard 36 hours after arriving in Iraq in 2009.

His family said they were “euphoric” that Fitzsimons had escaped the death penalty, but said he was suffering from severe PTSD and should never had been employed in a war zone.

Fitzsimons’s stepmother and father, Liz and Eric Fitzsimons, from Rochdale, said the Ministry of Defence had “let him down and continue to let down an awful lot of soldiers who come out with PTSD and aren’t offered any help”.

They called for legislation to help vet those hired by private security firms.

Fitzsimons, who joined the army at 16 and was discharged eight years later, admitted shooting the men but claimed it was in self-defence – an argument rejected by the court.

McGuigan, 37, a former Royal Marine originally from Peebles, Scottish Borders, was shot twice in the chest and through the mouth. Weeks after his death his fiancee, Nicci Prestage, from Tameside, Greater Manchester, gave birth prematurely to his daughter, Elsie-Mai.

Hoare, also 37, a father of three from Brisbane, was shot through the temple at close range.

Fitzsimons said as he was led from the courtroom that he was happy with the sentence. But asked whether he thought his trial had been fair, he said: “No.”

His Iraqi lawyer, Tariq Harb, said: “This is a very good sentence. I saved him from the gallows.”

He told Reuters: “A year in prison in Iraq is nine months and this means that 20 years in prison will, in fact, be 15 years.”

Caroline Davies
The Guardian, Monday 28 February 2011 17.23 GMT

Find this story at 28 February 2012

© 2012 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved.

Leaked emails warned G4S over Iraq murders

The sun never sets on the UK’s armies of private security firms (Image via Shutterstock)

In the wake of the Olympic Games vetting scandal, private security company G4S may have hoped that its period on the public rack had come to an end. But G4S’s vetting, it appears, is fraught with failure abroad just as it is in East London – only with far deadlier consequences.

Tonight on BBC Scotland, reporter Samantha Poling investigates the the deaths of private security contractors in Iraq and Afghanistan and the lax security standards of the mutil-billion pound firms that send young men to war zones and arm them with deadly weapons.

In the summer of 2009, former British paratrooper turned private security contractor Daniel Fitzsimons shot dead two colleagues in Baghdad’s highly-securitised Green Zone. In a vodka-fuelled squabble and only 36 hours after arriving in the sandy nation, Fitzsimons killed Paul McGuigan, from Peebles in Scotland, and Australian Darren Hoare.

The three men had come to Iraq to work for the British private security company ArmorGroup Iraq, which G4S now owns.

While the media widely reported on the deaths at the time and on Fitzsimon’s subsequent trial before the Supreme Court of Iraq, BBC Scotland tonight reveals a shocking new fact: a whistleblower had sent G4S numerous emails only days before Fitzsimons arrived in Iraq warning the company that the lives of fellow contractors would be put at risk if he were given a weapon.

‘I am alarmed that he [Fitzsimons] will shortly be allowed to handle a weapon and be exposed to members of the public,’ the whistleblower wrote, who signed off as ‘a concerned member of the public and father.’

‘I am speaking out because I feel that people should not be put at risk.’

Fitzsimons had a criminal record, including firearm and assault convictions. The former British paratrooper was also suffering post-traumatic disorder from the gruesome sights he had witnessed during previous work in war zones such as Kosovo. Despite this background, G4S employed Fitzsimons and sent him to Iraq.

The mother of slain British contractor, Paul McGuigan, said, ‘[Fitzsimons] fired the bullets. But the gun was put in his hand by G4S ArmorGroup. They put the gun in that man’s hand.’

‘I want G4S to be charged with corporate manslaughter and be held accountable for what they did.’

Responding to the BBC Scotland investigation, G4S acknowledged that Fitzsimon’s ‘screening was not completed in line with the company’s procedures.’ G4S claims to have since improved.

The investigation shines a light into the murky world of private security. BBC Scotland spoke with security contactors who claim to have been forced to work on dangerous tasks with the wrong equipment. Numerous incidents have not been reported for the sake of G4S’s reputation, one of them alleged.

Bob Shepherd, a security contractor, told Poling, ‘We know when a soldier dies it’s all over the newspapers, it’s on the TV. But we never know when security contractors die.’

In response to the news that a whistleblower had repeatedly warned G4S about hiring Fitzsimons, the company told BBC Scotland that it was unable to find the email trail. It appears that a company selling security management software that allows businesses to monitor staff in the farthest reaches of the world is unable to carry out a simple email search; ‘I can’t track down the relevant individual so I am afraid we can not comment further on when we received the emails,’ G4S said.

G4S, one of the major players in the constantly growing yet constantly scandal-ridden private security sector, had a 2011 turnover of £7.5bn.

The International Code of Conduct for Private Service Providers is currently aiming to improve standards in the sector, which is dominated by UK-based companies. Out of the 511 companies to have signed up to the Code, 177 have headquarters in the UK – more than three times the number based in the United States of America.

Britannia may no longer rule the waves, but it does rule the world of private security.

BBC Scotland’s investigation, Britain’s Private War, airs on Monday October 1 at 21:00.
The editor of the Bureau worked with Sam Poling on the Scottish Bafta winning film Security Wars.
http://www.iainoverton.com/blog/?portfolio=security-wars-bafta-prix-circom

October 1st, 2012 | by Zlatina Georgieva | Published in All Stories, Bureau Recommends

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Scandal-hit G4S ‘was warned not to employ security guard’ before he murdered two colleagues in Iraq

Danny Fitzsimons, 31, was sentenced to 20 years in 2011 for killing Scot Paul McGuigan, 37, and Australian Darren Hoare, 37, in Baghdad in 2009
All were working for UK security firm G4S, operating as ArmorGroup
A BBC probe claims a G4S whistleblower warned them about Fitzsimons’ previous convictions and unstable behaviour before his posting
G4S claim nobody ever saw the email warnings
Victims’ families call for G4S to be prosecuted for corporate manslaughter
It comes a week after it emerged G4S chief Nick Buckles will keep his job despite review finding the firm guilty of ‘mishandling’ its Olympic contract

Security firm G4S was warned not to employ an armed guard in Iraq days before he murdered two colleagues – one of them an ex-Royal Marine, a new BBC documentary claims.

Danny Fitzsimons, 31, was sentenced to at least 20 years in 2011 for killing Paul McGuigan, 37, from Peebles in Scotland, and Australian Darren Hoare, also 37, in Baghdad in August 2009.

All were working for UK security firm G4S, operating as ArmorGroup in the region.

G4S controversially failed to supply enough staff during the Olympics this summer and was recently handed a £13million Government contract to monitor sex offenders in Scotland.

BBC Scotland Investigates: Britain’s Private War, to be screened on BBC2 tonight, claims that a G4S whistleblower sent a series of emails to the company in London, warning them about Fitzsimons’ previous convictions and unstable behaviour.

Signing one email ‘a concerned member of the public and father’, the anonymous worker warns G4S: ‘I am alarmed that he will shortly be allowed to handle a weapon and be exposed to members of the public. I am speaking out because I feel that people should not be put at risk.’

Another email, sent as Fitzsimons was due to start work in Baghdad, says: ‘Having made you aware of the issues regarding the violent criminal Danny Fitzsimons, it has been noted that you have not taken my advice and still choose to employ him in a position of trust. I have told you that he remains a threat and you have done nothing.’

The programme reports that Fitzsimons had worked as a private security contractor before in Iraq, but he had been sacked for punching a client.

In the documentary, the parents of Paul McGuigan, whose fiancée Nicci Prestage gave birth to his baby daughter in October 2009, call for the company to face criminal charges over the killing.

In the documentary, Mr McGuigan’s mother Corinne Boyd-Russell, from Innerleithen, in the Borders, said: ‘[Fitzsimons] fired the bullets. But the gun was put in his hand by G4S ArmorGroup. They put the gun in that man’s hand.

‘I want G4S to be charged with corporate manslaughter and be held accountable for what they did.’
The parents of Fitzsimons were also shocked to hear about the existence of the emails.

Fitzsimons’ mother Liz, from Manchester, said: ‘And they still took him out there? They [G4S] need to be taken to task for that.

‘The people who we feel are responsible, who we hold responsible for putting that gun in Danny’s hand, are without a shadow of a doubt G4S.’

Fitzsimons became the first Westerner to be convicted by an Iraqi court since the 2003 U.S.-led invasion when he was convicted in February last year, narrowly escaping the death penalty.

The former security contractor from Rochdale admitted shooting the men but claimed it was self-defence.

The men had been out drinking and the other two tried to kill him during an altercation, Fitzsimons said during previous testimony. He also claimed to be suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder.

A G4S spokesman said: ‘We are aware of the allegation over emails but following an internal IT investigation it is clear that no such emails were received by any employee before the incident.

‘We have not been shown any formal documentation which proves Mr Fitzsimons had post-traumatic stress disorder.

‘This was a tragic case and our thoughts remain with the families of both Paul McGuigan and Darren Hoare, who were valued and highly respected employees of the company, and who continue to be sadly missed by their families, colleagues and friends alike.

‘We confirmed publicly on September 15 2009 that, in this particular case, although there was evidence that Mr Fitzsimons falsified and apparently withheld material information during the recruitment process, his screening was not completed in line with the company’s procedures.

‘Our screening processes should have been better implemented in this situation but it is a matter of speculation what, if any, role this may have played in the incident.’

Since his conviction G4S has been roundly criticised for its handling of Olympic security arrangements.

Last week, it emerged G4S chief Nick Buckles will keep his job despite an independent review finding the bungling security firm guilty of ‘mishandling’ its Olympic contract.

Mr Buckles, whose pay and benefits package was worth £5.3million last year, had been widely expected to lose his lucrative post over the fiasco.

But instead, two of his deputies will pay the price for the group’s failures during the Games.

The company’s UK boss David Taylor-Smith and events chief Ian Horseman Sewell have both resigned.

By Graham Grant

PUBLISHED: 08:30 GMT, 1 October 2012 | UPDATED: 09:33 GMT, 1 October 2012

Find this story at 1 October 2012

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