Blackwater's 'Merchants of Death'

The memo by the two sources gets more specific. Source A names five people who were allegedly involved in the development of assassination teams, including a man who left Blackwater in mid-2005 and last worked as the head of the Blackwater's OGA division. The acronym stands for "Other Government Agencies," which included the connection to the CIA. The other men on the source's list are a former member of Blackwater's paratrooper unit, an employee of Blackwater Security Consulting who, according to the memo, was designated as a "hit man" within the unit and Alvin Bernard Krongard, the most senior employee on the list, who the source claims was responsible for assembling the teams. "Krongard set up the teams," the paper claims.

But the memo does not specify whether agreements were made with individuals or the company itself, or what Krongard's role was exactly. The latter is particularly difficult to determine, given that Krongard has worked on both sides of the desk. From March 2001 to September 2004, Krongard served as the CIA's executive director, under then-CIA Director George Tenet. After leaving office, he switched to the private sector, joining Blackwater's advisory board.

'We Are Not Inclined to Comment'

SPIEGEL confronted the company, the CIA and Krongard with the contents of the memo last Wednesday, but they had declined to comment by Friday. A CIA spokesman was unwilling to confirm or deny cooperation with Blackwater with regard to the assassination program or the secret detainee transports. "We do not comment on our contractual relationships," the spokesman said. He did note, however, that the details of the memo included "mistakes," although he chose not to elaborate.

Stacy DeLuke, the spokeswoman of Xe Services (as Blackwater is now called), answered in an e-mail: "Due to the sensitive nature of these allegations, we are not inclined to comment at this time." Krongard's assistant Cathy Davis said: "I received your e-mail and confirm receipt by Mr. Krongard as well," but did not respond to questions about Krongard's role.

The allegations have triggered growing unease on Capitol Hill, where senators want to know more about the covert assassination program. Last Friday, it was also revealed that Blackwater assisted in drone attacks in Pakistan and Afghanistan. In a letter to fellow Democrat Hillary Clinton, Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky urged the secretary of state "not to enter into further contracts with Xe and to immediately review any existing contracts."

Translated from the German by Christopher Sultan

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