[Guest post by DRJ]
The CIA reportedly contracted with Blackwater USA for a covert assassination program:
“U.S. officials familiar with the targeted-killing program said that Blackwater’s involvement was limited in scope and duration, and that the arrangement ended several years before CIA Director Leon E. Panetta killed the program two months ago.
The program was kept secret from Congress for nearly eight years before Panetta told lawmakers about it in June. CIA officials have emphasized that the program was never operational and that it did not lead to the capture or killing of a single terrorism suspect.
“It was never successful, so he ended it,” CIA spokesman Paul Gimigliano said. Panetta “never suggested to Congress that anyone at the CIA misled the intelligence committees or otherwise broke the law.”
As the article notes, the program may be legal and Panetta did suggest the CIA misled Congress … but those are stories for another day.
What I’m interested in is how the media is responding to the Blackwater report. Are they interested in gathering more facts, or in questioning why the CIA might enter into such contracts? Judge for yourself based on today’s press briefing with White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs:
Q Has the President ordered any end of the contracts we have with the assassination mercenaries?
MR. GIBBS: Do you mean Blackwater?
Q Or anybody else.
MR. GIBBS: I have — I asked for an update, which I have not yet gotten, on where we are in different contracts. I would — as it relates to CIA’s use of contracting, I would point you specifically to them for responses on that.
Q I don’t think they would tell us.
MR. GIBBS: They may tell you, Helen. If you use that sweet voice on the phone, you never know what you could get. (Laughter.)
Q I want them to stop killing people.
MR. GIBBS: You should let them know.
Q You should, too. (Laughter.) You have the orders — you have the power.
MR. GIBBS: Yes, ma’am.”
I believe the initial questioning is by Helen Thomas and the final comments are by Savannah Guthrie of NBC News.
NOTE: This video suggests the last comments were made by Helen Thomas and not Savannah Guthrie.