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WikiLeaks: Blackwater Tried To Get Into Pirate Hunting

Never one to miss out on a business opportunity, today's trove of WikiLeaks documents reveal that Blackwater, the law-bending international security firm, wanted to try its hand in Somali pirate hunting, but ultimately dropped the effort after a lack of interest and U.S. government concern. In late 2008, Blackwater "reconfigured a 183-foot oceanographic research vessel into a pirate-hunting ship for hire," arming the McArthur with ".50-caliber machine guns and a small, unarmed drone aircraft." According to the New York Times, they even outlined their rules of engagement, specifying, "Blackwater does not intend to take any pirates into custody, but will use lethal force against pirates if necessary." But if life on the high seas with Blackwater sounds fun, testimony from fomer crew members suggests the opposite. After a boozy port call in Jordan, one former crew member says the captain ordered him handcuffed to a towel rack, and later threatened to stick him in a straitjacket. Additionally, despite Blackwater's best-laid plans, the U.S embassy in Djibouti was hesitant about working with the controversial firm, which was then under attack for alleged prisoner abuses in Afghanistan and Iraq. James Swan, the American ambassador in Djibouti, sent a cable requesting "guidance on the appropriate level of engagement with Blackwater." Ultimately, the plan fell flat, but as the New York Times points out, the company (now called Xe) is coping just fine: Earlier this year, it was granted a $100 million government contract.

2 Comments in Response to

Comment by Ned The Head
Entered on:

That was my first thought too. This actually sounds like one of the few legitimate uses for a mercenary army and perfectly legal if congress issues a letter of marque. Privateers seemed to work OK for England. Not that I'm unsymathetic to Somalis who's environment is so thoroughly polluted by supertankers purging their tanks all over their shores that you have to wonder what alternatives exist to piracy.

Comment by Rich Hilts
Entered on:

You know - if you think about it - with the hundreds held hostage and thousands being affected, insurance and consumer costs going up.... maybe they could do something good :)

No one else seems to be able to stop 'em.

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