Highly trained personnel employed with the private security firm formerly known as Blackwater Worldwide sometimes operated side by side with CIA field officers in Iraq and Afghanistan as the agency undertook missions to kill or capture members of insurgent groups in those countries, according to a former government official and a source familiar with the operations.
The actions taken by the private personnel went beyond the protective role specified in a classified Blackwater contract with the CIA and included active participation in raids overseen by CIA or special forces personnel, the sources said. They emphasized that roles and responsibilities often are blurred or altered in a battlefield setting, and that Blackwater personnel were drawn into the operations on an ad-hoc basis because they were present and had the necessary skills.
The CIA declined to comment Thursday on specific intelligence operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.
A spokesman for the security firm said Blackwater, now called Xe Services, was never under contract to participate in covert raids with CIA or Special Forces troops “in Iraq, Afghanistan or anywhere else.”
Mark Corallo, the spokesman, added: “Any allegation to the contrary by any news organization would be false.”
The New York Times published on its website Thursday evening a story saying Blackwater guards had participated in clandestine CIA raids.