CIA Hired Blackwater To Go After Al Qaeda Leaders

The CIA apparently hired Blackwater back  in 2004 to work on a covert program aimed at targeting and potentially killing top al Qaeda leaders.

From CNN:

The existence of the program, which began in 2001, came to light earlier this year when CIA Director Leon Panetta canceled the effort, but it is only now that Blackwater’s involvement has become known.

That development was first reported Thursday in The New York Times.

The program was part of a broader effort inside the CIA to develop the capacity to conduct training, surveillance and possible covert operations overseas, according to the source. The program was outsourced to contractors to “put some distance” between the effort and the U.S. government.

By mid-2006, Blackwater’s involvement in the program had ended, according to a U.S. official. Other contractors were brought in for other parts of the program, another source said.

The total program cost “millions,” a U.S. official said. It is not known how much Blackwater was paid. The company — now known as Xe — did not return CNN’s calls seeking comment.

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