CIA chief Panetta defends Blackwater deal

Blackwater WorldwideCentral Intelligence Agency Chief, Leon Panetta, defended Sunday his agency’s regarding with the 100-million-dollar contract with the controversial and secretive firm also known as Blackwater Worldwide.

The news about million dollar contracts brought furious response from US lawmakers this week heated by new government arrangement with the renamed Xe Services despite Blackwater’s dark history of killing ordinary innocent people in Iraq.

The firm was heated and thrown into the spotlight after five of its national guards were being accused of murdering 17 defenseless Iraqis in a gun and grenade attack, and hurting approximately two dozen others during a September 2007 incident at the busy street of Nisur Square in Baghdad.

“I have to tell you that in the war zone, we continue to have needs for security. You’ve got a lot of forward bases. We’ve got a lot of attacks on some of these bases. We’ve got to have security,” Panetta told ABC television’s “This Week.”

“Unfortunately, there are a few companies that provide that kind of security. The State Department relies on them, we rely on them to a certain extent.”

DynCorp International and Triple Canopy security contractors said have put in losing bids for the Central Intelligence Agency’s business.

Xe “provided a bid that… underbid everyone else by about 26 million dollars. And a panel that we had said that they can do the job, that they have shaped up their act. So there really was not much choice but to accept that contract,” Panetta explained.

He said he was examining and monitoring all current CIA bids with Xe.

The CIA formally signed the deal after the US State Department last week awarded Xe a security services contract worth some 120 million dollars for the “job well done” in Afghanistan.

Under the contract, Xe will bestow “protective security services” at the US consulates in Herat and Mazar-e-Sharif.

But, however, the North Carolina-based firm lost its contract to provide quality security service for US embassy diplomats in Baghdad in May 2009 after Iraqis and other organizations repeatedly accused it of adopting an arrogant “cowboy” mentality.

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