Systemic Failures May Give Blackwater Another Afghanistan Contract

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Monday, March 08, 2010 at 6:00 am
Blackwater guards in Iraq in 2003 (ALI HAIDER/EPA/KEYSTONE Press)

Blackwater guards in Iraq in 2003 (ALI HAIDER/EPA/KEYSTONE Press)

By March 24, the private security corporation formerly known as Blackwater — last seen in Afghanistan shooting civilians and stealing weapons intended for the Afghan police — may win a new Defense Department contract to train the Afghan police. And nearly no one in the government wants to own up to how it could happen.

Interviews over the past week with numerous Pentagon officials and military officers in Washington and Kabul have presented a portrait of a contracting process in which it is remarkably difficult to deny a contract to a security company involved in numerous civilian deaths and possible fraud. While it is not certain that Blackwater, now known as Xe Services, will receive a contract that could be worth as much as a billion dollars, the fact that the company is still eligible for the bid — while no one involved in the process wishes to claim responsibility for the potential award — highlights a confusing, unaccountable and systemic problem in how the government delivers security contracts.

[Security1]Last year, at the request of Gen. Stanley McChrystal, the commanding general of U.S. forces in Afghanistan, the Defense Department took control of a contract for training Afghan policemen from the State Department’s Bureau of Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs — an office that the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction signaled out as exercising weak oversight. According to four senior military officers with the NATO military command responsible for training Afghan security forces, known as CSTC-A, the command “identified a requirement” for a contractor to perform “tasks we specified” for training the police, said Brig. Gen. Gary Patton, the director of programs for CSTC-A. But all four officers said they had no further involvement with how the contract will be awarded.

That decision belongs to an obscure Army office called CNTPO. Short for the Counter-Narcoterrorism Technology Program Office, CNTPO is a subdivision of the Army’s Space and Missile Defense Command. No one interviewed for this article could explain why CNTPO is responsible for overseeing a contract that has a tenuous connection to counter-narcoterrorism. Patton explained that CSTC-A’s advice to CNTPO on the contract is limited to designing the shape of the contract’s requirements, including what he described as a focus on “training the trainer” of Afghan forces and “more counterinsurgency in the program instruction, more counterinsurgency lessons, operating conditions and the like brought into the program instruction.” CNTPO had prior relationships with five security companies that it allowed to bid on the Afghan police training contract: Raytheon, Lockheed Martin, NG, ARINC — and Blackwater.

It doesn’t appear like CNTPO is a particularly well-known organization inside the Pentagon. Several of Patton’s colleagues at CSTC-A described it as being based in Huntsville, Ala., but several attempts to contact the office over the past week were unsuccessful.

In mid-December, DynCorp, another private security contractor that held the police-training contract back when the State Department controlled it, filed an objection with the Government Accountability Office over the decision to move the acquisition authority for the contract to CNTPO from State. The GAO has until March 24 to adjudicate the dispute. Several sources throughout the Pentagon and Congress expect CNTPO to award the contract almost immediately afterward if GAO rules that the office is indeed allowed to award it. CSTC-A officers said they did not know which company CNTPO believes ought to hold the contract.

Sen. Carl Levin (D-Mich.) has expressed frustration that Blackwater is eligible for another government contract. In late February, an investigation by the Senate Armed Services Committee, which Levin chairs, uncovered that Blackwater created a shell company called Paravant in 2008 to help it win a sub-contract with the Army for training Afghan soldiers. While holding that contract, employees of Paravant who were never authorized to carry weapons simply took hundreds of rifles and pistols intended for Afghan police use from a U.S. military weapons depot near Kabul, even signing for those guns using the name of a “South Park” cartoon character.

Levin wrote to Defense Secretary Robert Gates on Feb. 25 to request that Pentagon officials “consider the deficiencies in Blackwater’s performance under the weapons training contract before a decision is made to award the police training work to Blackwater.” In a separate letter, Levin requested Attorney General Eric Holder investigate Blackwater for contract fraud. Justice Department officials would not comment for the record, but told TWI that Holder is considering Levin’s request.

Any action from Holder would represent perhaps the only chance to stop Blackwater from receiving any additional government contracts. Several CSTC-A officers and Pentagon officials said that good-government contract rules prevent them from banning Blackwater. Specifically, an obscure contracting rule known as Federal Acquisition Regulation 9.406-2 prevents an acquisition official for banning a company from being awarded a contract unless the company has been formally “debarred” from eligibility — something that has never happened in Blackwater’s case. However, several criteria for debarment appear to apply to Blackwater, including “commission of fraud,” “theft,” “falsification or destruction of records, making false statements,” “a history of failure to perform, or of unsatisfactory performance of, one or more contracts,” and “violations of the Drug-Free Workplace Act of 1988.”

Asked what message it would send to the Afghans if a company whose employees have shot Afghan civilians and stolen weapons meant for the Afghan police wins a contract to train Afghan policeman, Patton said we was “not going to address hypotheticals.” He added, “I’ve got faith in the system, and we’re going to let the system play out and go from there.”

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48 Comments

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pvtryan
Comment posted March 8, 2010 @ 2:42 pm

“violations of the Drug-Free Workplace Act of 1988.”

Steroids to those who are curous. These chumps used to slang them in the Green Zone gymnasium…..

Thanks for following this one up….These fools put my life, not to mention the lives of hundreds of thousands of other soldiers and civilians at risk with their INFANTILE SHENANIGANS…AAARGH. The Hurt Locker was well kind in its portayal of these dupes (Raiph Fiennes character as the Brit equivalent of Jerkwater).


Ellen N. Duell
Comment posted March 8, 2010 @ 3:35 pm

Peace should be the goal of the U.S.A. I believe that the only way to have peace is through peaceful methods. As an American citizen, I do not feel protected by Blackwater-Xe or any other such organization, including all branches of the American military organization (“the Pentagon”). Of course I realize that there are armed people or groups here and other lands that want power and would use illegal force to get it. However, I believe in treating them with active nonviolence. We should offer peaceful types of employment, such as reforestation, similar to Roosevelt's “Works Progress Administration”, so that men (or women) have no need to join paramilitary or military organizations for employment.


Doodie
Comment posted March 8, 2010 @ 4:06 pm

And how do you know it was BW? There are tons contractors running around Iraq.


Hawaiianstyle
Comment posted March 8, 2010 @ 7:06 pm

You can't be serious. If we can't stop Blackwater-Xe, If we can't choose to whom we give the public money, If we have no mechanism or ability to not deal with a vendor what in the world is going on. Who's running the show?

The idea that we have no choice in how the public dollar is spent is one that ought to make the blood boil of every American even if Congress and the President don't seem to react.


Doodie
Comment posted March 8, 2010 @ 7:30 pm

Besides the Nissoor saure shootings, out of all the allegations against BW…..are any more than just allegations that got press coverage. It's amazing to me how allegations seem to become fact when they're about a comicbookishly villainous company.

They're a pretty easy company to demonize. But they have a solid record of success. There's a reason the keep getting contracts….they do a good job.


CBM
Comment posted March 8, 2010 @ 11:31 pm

Well generally, when an American contractor kills a bunch of civilians, the friends and neighbors of those civilians are unhappy. Occasionally they seek retribution against other Americans. Service members, support staff, what-have-you. That might be what he was referring to


CBM
Comment posted March 8, 2010 @ 11:33 pm

A solid record of success? They had practically no business with the government before 09/11. They've been active for less than 10 years. And they were so hated they felt it necessary to change their name. What are the criteria to achieve a solid record of success? Confirmed kills?


Doodie
Comment posted March 9, 2010 @ 2:37 am

Uhhhh 20000 missions and not one loss of diplomatic life. All of this done with to complete oversight of the US Embassy. They had 1000 guys on the ground at a time.


Fnord
Comment posted March 9, 2010 @ 11:22 am

Well apart from them posting videos of themselves shooting at civilians, screwing SOP and causing Falujah, being responsible for multiple convoy-overkills you mean?

Oh, and SPencer, you may want to check out wether there is any linkage with CounterNarcoTerrorism and the merry lads of the Iran-Contra scandal.


Joe Soldier
Comment posted March 9, 2010 @ 1:49 pm

Once again…….a falsity. The video I believe you're referring to with music and shooting a following car from quite a distance was the famous Aegis company video. All it take is to label it “Balckwater” and folks like yourself blindly believe it. Sure they didn't follow their own homemade SOP's in the Falujah situation, but even if they were in armored vehicles, the same situation would have happened. They were a small team that was double crossed. Armor won't do much for that.

Also concerning this article, the military is happy with the Job XE is doing there in Afghanistan. http://www.nation.com.pk/pakistan-news-newspape…

“the US Central Command and the top US commander in Afghanistan, Gen Stanley McChrystal, are said to be very happy with the company’s work in Afghanistan, the former official familiar with the contracting deal told POLITICO.”


Doodie
Comment posted March 9, 2010 @ 1:50 pm

What even makes you think it was an American Contractor?


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acuvue oasys
Comment posted March 13, 2010 @ 6:49 am

These mass murderers need to face justice. Not only have they killed innocent people, but have stolen millions if not billions from their own government. SHAME!


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Comment posted March 13, 2010 @ 1:45 pm

I think you might be surprised the actual cost vs putting a US soldier on the ground.

http://abcnews.go.com/Blotter/blackwater-saves-…


Kirk Peavy
Comment posted March 13, 2010 @ 2:20 pm

Blackwater is awesome, Stop being so sissy liberal and get a life. These guys have never lost a client and Dept. of State keeps asking for Blackwater to protect them. That should tell you something.


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Oh, and SPencer, you may want to check out wether there is any linkage with CounterNarcoTerrorism and the merry lads of the Iran-Contra scandal.


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Comment posted March 11, 2011 @ 2:16 am

In this condition, it shows the security forces are enable to do a specific job against militia, therefore depend on security compnies like blackwater or Dyncorp int. It’s a failure of 47 allies contries against terrorism.


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