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Robert Gates Confirms Blackwater In Pakistan
Today, the country's senior minister for the North-West Frontier Province (NWFP), Bashir Bilour, also acknowledged that the company is operating in Pakistan's frontier areas. Bilour told Pakistan's Express News TV that Blackwater's activities were taking place with the "consent and permission" of the Pakistani government, saying he had discussed the issue with officials at the US Consulate in Peshawar, who told him that Blackwater was training Pakistani forces.
When Gates was asked what the US response would be if the Pakistani parliament passed a law banning private security companies, Gates said, "If it's Pakistani law, we will absolutely comply."
As Gates's comments began to make huge news in Pakistan, US defense officials tried to retract his statement. As the Wall Street Journal reported, "Defense officials tried to clarify the comment Thursday night, telling reporters that Mr. Gates had been speaking about contractor oversight more generally and that the Pentagon didn't employ Xe in Pakistan."
Bilour's statements are consistent with what a former Blackwater executive and a US military intelligence source told me in December--that Blackwater is working on a subcontract for Kestral, a Pakistani security and logistics firm. That contract, say my sources, is technically with the Pakistani government, which helps cloak Blackwater's presence.
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