Blackwater's 'Merchants of Death'

John Doe 2, who worked for Prince, writes that the former head of Blackwater "views himself as a Christian crusader tasked with eliminating Muslims and the Islamic faith from the globe." He claims that company employees treated the killing of Iraqis as sport.

The Blackwater attorney questions the validity of these witnesses, saying that much of what they claim is based on hearsay. The fact that the witnesses are remaining anonymous, says White, makes it impossible to verify their credibility. He calls the tactics "unfair" and highly prejudicial to defendants.

But the key witnesses' fear of retaliation is considerable, which also has something to do with the fact that Prince has powerful friends in the government, particularly inside the CIA.

Assassination Teams and Extraordinary Renditions

In addition to working for government departments, Blackwater also worked directly for the intelligence agency, as the new CIA director recently confirmed in a closed-door hearing in the US Congress. And in a memo SPIEGEL has obtained, two other former employees describe, for the first time, the details of this covert collaboration.

The two informants are referred to as "Source A" and "Source B" in the internal memo. According to Source B, Blackwater, working on behalf of the CIA, flew terror suspects from Guantanamo to Pakistan, Afghanistan and Uzbekistan, where the detainees apparently faced "special treatment" in secret prisons.

The intelligence service commissioned Blackwater and its subsidiaries to transport terror suspects from Guantanamo to interrogations at secret prison camps in Pakistan, Afghanistan and Uzbekistan. The paper identifies aircraft movements and unveils how the flights were disguised. The memo reads: "The CIA hired Blackwater to conduct extraordinary renditions" and "Blackwater flew the rendition targets from Fort Perry and Cuba to Kandahar, Afghanistan."

'The CIA Hired Blackwater'

According to the informant, some of the flights were provided by two other companies Prince owned, Presidential Airways and Aviation Worldwide, which were given special clearance in 2003 by the US Defense Department to conduct such flights. Source B even knew the tail numbers of the aircraft that were allegedly involved: N962BW, N964BW and N968BW.

The flights also involved Satelles Solutions, another Prince subsidiary, which operates a training and recruitment camp in the Philippines designed to accommodate about 1,000 soldiers.

According to Source A, Blackwater also helped out the CIA with another controversial activity during the Bush years. In the memo, Source A writes: "The CIA hired Blackwater to conduct targeted killings in Afghanistan."

In June Leon Panetta, Obama's new CIA director, told lawmakers in a closed-door hearing on Capitol Hill about a secret program to kill or capture al-Qaida operatives that was begun eight years ago. The purpose of the so-called assassination program was to recruit and train special forces to assassinate senior al-Qaida leaders.

Authority to Kill

According to Panetta, Cheney asked the CIA not to disclose the covert program to Congress. The argument that was used at the time was that when combating terrorism, the CIA has the authority to kill without special congressional approval. The program, however, never quite went beyond the training phase, according to CIA testimony before the US Senate.

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