WASHINGTON (AP) - A U.S. official is confirming that Blackwater USA has provided security and moved around with CIA teams on missions in war zones. But the official denies the contractors performed CIA missions.
He's reacting to a New York Times report that Blackwater security guards participated in clandestine CIA raids against suspected insurgents in Iraq and Afghanistan. The Times reports the "snatch and grab" raids took place regularly between 2004 and 2006, when the insurgency in Iraq was growing.
Speaking on condition of anonymity, the official tells The Associated Press that CIA Director Leon Panetta ordered a review several months ago of Blackwater's contracts to be sure its guards only perform security-related work.
A CIA spokesman says the agency "uses contractors in roles that complement and enhance the skills" of its own work force, "just as American law permits." He adds: "Agency staff officers have the decision-making authority and bear responsibility for results."