Jeremy Scahill


Scahill, Jeremy. Blackwater: The Rise of the World's Most Powerful Mercenary Army. New York: Nation Books, 2007.

Bracknell, NWCR 61.4 (Autumn 2008), finds that the author brings "fervor and intensity" to his subject. However, he allows his book to "degenerate[] into an attack on the Bush administration's Iraq war policy," and to "regress[] into an assault on the Bush administration generally, political conservatism, and the Christian right." Given Scahill's "meticulous research," this is a shame. "Coupled with untidy organization and the author's tendency to repeat himself, this renders his work less constructive and credible than it otherwise might have been."


Scahill, Jeremy. "Blackwater's Secret War in Pakistan." The Nation, 23 Nov. 2009. []

"At a covert forward operating base run by the US Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) in the Pakistani port city of Karachi, members of an elite division of Blackwater are at the center of a secret program in which they 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, an investigation by The Nation has found. The Blackwater operatives also assist in gathering intelligence and help direct a secret US military drone bombing campaign that runs parallel to the well-documented CIA predator strikes, according to a well-placed source within the US military intelligence apparatus."

[MI/Ops/00s/Afghanistan/09; MI/SpecOps/00s; OtherCountries/Pakistan]

Scahill, Jeremy. "Former Top CIA Spy: How US Intelligence Became Big Business." The Nation, 7 Jul. 2010. []

The author provides a lengthy report on a public discussion in June 2010 at the International Spy Museum in Washington, DC, specifically on the remarks of Robert Grenier, former head of the CIA's Counterterrorism Center, with regard to the CIA's use of contractors in covert operations. He "estimated that 'many more than half' of the personnel who worked under him at the CIA's counterterrorism center were private contractors.... Grenier largely defended the use of contractors, primarily because he said he believes that the government, in a time of war, needs to be able to hire skilled, specialized personnel capable of securing the necessary security clearances....

"Grenier rejected the notion that Blackwater would have been specifically hired by the CIA for assassination operations." Asked "why the CIA might use a company like Blackwater at any stage of a lethal operation instead of using US military special forces teams.... Grenier pointed to the complicated logistics of preparing such operations.... Overall, Grenier was generally supportive of the use of private contractors, though he did offer some criticisms." He expressed concern "about the 'revolving door' between government and the private sector," and "endorsed moves to ban CIA personnel from returning as contractors less than a year after leaving the agency....

"I asked Grenier about the US military classifying operations that might traditionally be considered intelligence operations ... as 'preparing the battlefield,' making them a military rather than an intelligence operation. Some critics have suggested that such classification is an attempt to avoid Congressional oversight of certain covert operations. 'That's a very interesting dodge,' Grenier said. 'It has not kept the Department of Defense from trying, at least in my view and the view of others in the intelligence community, to at least to some degree overstep their bounds.'"


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