Today's Article
Blackwater and the
other companies will
make up to $15 billion
from the Pentagon's
contract within five
The American Spark
Blackwater, Other Contractors Given Bigger Role In Drug War

By Cliff Montgomery - Oct. 3rd, 2007

The Pentagon hired five top defense contractors in late August to provide greater support in America's counter-
narcotics operations around the world. One of those companies was the now-infamous Blackwater USA,
whose employees are accused of committing a number of unprovoked killings in a Baghdad neighborhood.

Blackwater and the other companies will make up to $15 billion from the counter-narcotics contract within five

Such outsourcing reveals the degree to which the Department of Defense now employs private contractors to
fulfill its missions, in great part because U.S. troops remain preoccupied with the fruitless nation-building of

The companies will fulfill specific task orders stemming from an "indefinite delivery, indefinite quantity" contract.
They will establish and operate for the Pentagon a slew of new spying technologies; aid in the creation and
equipping of foreign defense forces; and provide major logistical, operational and administrative help to such U.
S. agencies such as the Defense Department and the Drug Enforcement Administration.

The work statement given to bidders appears to indicate that these orders primarily will be fulfilled overseas.

"The contractor shall provide security and related services in support of [counter-narcoterrorism and] related
missions to include, but not limited to, intelligence, medical, logistics, canine services, surveillance, counter-
surveillance, aerial over-watch, security advisory, etc. The services may be incidental to other activities (i.e.,
training programs, construction, etc.) or the primary purpose of the [task order]," according to the statement.

The three task orders issued last December as part of the proposals request called for:

  • Contractors to design and place shortwave infrared high-resolution cameras--along with all necessary
    equipment--on two forms of aircraft.

  • Contractors to deliver intelligence, reconnaissance and surveillance assistance in Trans-Saharan Africa,
    by pinpointing the top platform and sensor units for each application; creating and maintaining an
    operations center; and drawing up various in-depth studies.

  • Referred to as a "sample" task order, the last requested contractors to establish a training program for
    border policemen in Afghanistan. The officers will keep a watch on crossings, help combat the exploding
    drug trade, and conduct searches of both people and vehicles.

The corporations include Lockheed Martin Co., Raytheon Technical Services Co., Arinc Inc., Northrop
Grumman Corp., and Blackwater USA. The contract was granted on Aug. 24th by the Army's Space and
Missile Defense Command, which assigned the contract for the Defense Department's Counter-
Narcoterrorism Technology Program Office.

The job of this rather shadowy "counter-narcoterrorism" office? To "develop and deploy technology that aids
[in] disrupting, deterring and denying the flow of drugs, people, information, money and weapons related to
illegal drug trafficking and narcoterrorism," stated a 2003 Pentagon amended mission statement.

Pentagon officials estimated in April 2006 that the contract would pay between $500 million-$750 million each
year to the companies over a five-year span, according to industry briefing documents.

But the recent Blackwater episode in Iraq has forced many to re-examine the hiring of private contractors to
fulfill duties normally handled by American troops.

On Sept. 16th, employees of Blackwater USA hired as State Department bodyguards opened fire on Iraqis in
a Baghdad neighborhood. Iraqis say the shootings resulted in the murder of at least 11 innocent Iraqi civilians
and the wounding of 12 others. Blackwater says its employees fired in self-defense.

In any case, on Oct. 1st the FBI declared it is sending an investigative team to Iraq, in the hopes of discovering
more about Blackwater's role in the episode.

The Bureau may pursue criminal charges if it finds reason to believe that company guards killed innocent Iraqi

The private security contractor has fired 122 people since 2004 for a variety of problems, including misuse of
weapons, drug and alcohol violations, and violent behavior, states a House Oversight and Government Reform
Committee report released Monday.

The report, put together by the panel's majority staff, also reveals that Blackwater guards have  engaged in
195 gunfire incidents since 2005, which works out to about 1.4 each week.

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