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Private Security Firm Raided by Blackwater in Kabul Now Under Investigation

It's really getting hard to know who the bad guys are anymore.

Two Afghani workers were "taken into custody" and American and Canadian citizens were held "at gunpoint," by contractor Blackwater USA during a raid of a competing private security firm in Kabul last month, an "American security official" with close ties to the company told the AP. "[T]he U.S. official (also) said Blackwater security teams took computers and office files."

A second source, Police Gen. Ali Shah Paktiawal told AP that "Afghan police provided security" for the raid on the private firm U.S. Protection and Investigations (USPI).

The AP notes that Blackwater provides security for the U.S. embassy in Kabul and USPI does security work for USAID, an arm of the State Department.

Read that last part again:

Blackwater provides security for the U.S. embassy in Kabul and USPI does security work for USAID, an arm of the State Department.

What does this mean? It means, that if this report is true, the U.S. is using one of it's for hire security companiies to conduct a raid of another of it contractors!

The raid is apparently related to two reports that USPI is under investigation for billing irregularities.

In a separate story, AP says the firm is "accused of overbilling the U.S. government by charging for nonexistent employees and vehicles." A USPI company spokesman called that "factually incorrect," but acknowledges, "the (U.S.) government is conducting an inquiry into the firm."

ABC News' "The Blotter" is also reporting the investigation:

[T]he investigation involves allegations of fraudulent overbilling against U.S. Protections and Investigations (USPI) of Houston, Texas.
...
U.S. and Afghan officials have seized computers, files and a safe from the Kabul offices of USPI, according to police officials and people who were at the scene.

Like Iraq, Afghanistan has about had it up to here with private security contractors.

The government of Afghanistan is currently taking action to control the dozens of private security firms that operate within it borders.

Echoing a growing problem in Iraq, Afghan authorities are cracking down on lucrative but largely unregulated security firms, some of which are suspected of murder.
...
Dozens of security companies also operate in Afghanistan, some of them well-known U.S. firms such as Blackwater and Dyncorp, but also many others that may not be known even to Afghan government.

Al-Jazeera reports that the government has closed down two private security firms and says it will close down more in the coming weeks.

The Afghan government's main complaints against the companies are a lack of accountability, intimidation of Afghans, and disrespect for local security forces.

"Due to lack of good control...their personnel or staff that are deployed...are not vetted properly," Zemarai Bashary, a spokesman for Afghanistan's interior ministry, told al-Jazeera. "[I]nstead of giving us help, they are giving us problems."

I don't know what's up or down anymore.

Originally posted to Liberal Bent on Fri Oct 12, 2007 at 11:29 AM PDT.

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