US's unofficial war in Pakistan will 'create enemies,' author says
In the wake of President Obama's plan to increase the number of US troops in Afghanistan, questions are being raised about the use of private contractors in US operations there. The acknowledgement by Eric Prince, founder of military contractor Blackwater, that he has been serving for years as a CIA asset only intensifies these concerns.
For Jeremy Scahill, author of the bestselling book Blackwater, however, the real concern is not Afghanistan but Pakistan, where according to an article in the New York Times, "the White House has authorized an expansion of the C.I.A.’s drone program."
"We need to view this sober reality," Scahill told MSNBC's Rachel Maddow on Thursday. "The war is in Pakistan right now. There's no question about it. The question, though, is how much it's going to expand. ... These are actions that are going to destabilize Pakistan and are going to create new enemies for the United States because of the high civilian casualties. ... Here you have military operations inside a country that we don't have a declaration of war against."
Scahill emphasized that the most destabilizing actions come not from the CIA but from Blackwater mercenaries, whom he recently described in The Nation as working for US special forces to "plan targeted assassinations of suspected Taliban and Al Qaeda operatives, 'snatch and grabs' of high-value targets and other sensitive action inside and outside Pakistan."
The drone attacks outsourced to Blackwater are the source of the highest numbers of civilian casualties. Scahill told Maddow that one of his sources is a "very well-placed military intelligence source [who] is offended at the idea that you have these operations happening outside of the military chain of command and with no oversight from the Congress."
"Blackwater has been operating under the cover of a training program," Scahill explained. "Blackwater is training the Pakistani Frontier Corps, which is a federal paramilitary force that is hunting down high-value targets in the frontier province. A former Blackwater executive told me that the line is being crossed -- that Blackwater guys are actually going out on these raids."
Scahill also revealed a few interesting tidbits about Eric Prince's decision to out himself as a CIA asset, saying, "I see this sort of as Eric Prince taking out an insurance policy for himself. ... Eric Prince is in the cross-hairs now of the Congress, the federal investigators, and others ... and it's a way of trying to insulate himself from future attacks."
This video is from MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show, broadcast Dec. 3, 2009.