By Bill Sizemore The Virginian-Pilot June 2, 2012 Five ex-Blackwater executives, facing federal firearms charges inconnection with a gift of weaponry to a Middle Eastern monarch,have come up with a new explanation for how it occurred: It was a CIA operation. In court papers filed last month in Raleigh, the defendants say thegift of five guns to King Abdullah II of Jordan during a royalvisit to Blackwater's Moyock, N.C., headquarters in March 2005 wasrequested, directed and authorized by the Central IntelligenceAgency. Attorneys for the five have filed declarations from two retired CIAofficials, including a former Jordan station chief, who say theyare familiar with the circumstances of the king's visit and wouldbe willing to testify about it. The CIA did not respond to a request for comment. |
It's a new wrinkle in a case that dates to April 2010, when thefive security company executives were indicted on a variety offelony firearms charges. One key section of the indictment involvedKing Abdullah's 2005 visit to Moyock, during which the monarch waspresented a Bushmaster M4 rifle, a Remington shotgun and threeGlock handguns. The gift guns were a marketing device, part of an effort byBlackwater to land security and training contracts in Jordan, theindictment alleges. When the executives subsequently realized they were unable toaccount for the disposition of the weapons, prosecutors allege,they falsified reports to the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco,Firearms and Explosives to give the appearance that they hadpurchased the guns for their own personal use.
Contrary to prosecutors' claims, the former executives now say theking's visit to Moyock "was not a Blackwater marketing effort,but was instead a CIA-organized and CIA-sanctioned diplomatic eventattended by dozens of U.S. Government officials with the aim not ofincreasing Blackwater's potential profits, but instead offurthering relations between the two countries." The royal visit arose out of a personal relationship between theking and Blackwater founder Erik Prince and was organized with theassistance of other government agencies including the StateDepartment and the Secret Service, they say. Prince sold the company, now known as Academi, in December 2010. Under CIA policy, it was the agency's responsibility to properlydocument the disposition of the weapons, the former executivesassert in court papers. The CIA failed to do so, they say,resulting in "an easily corrected regulatory paperwork errorin Blackwater's firearms disposition logs." Accompanying the court papers are declarations from two retired CIAofficers, Charles Seidel and John Maguire, who say they haveinformation about the king's visit and could testify about it ifthe CIA gives them permission.
The two men's statements, secured inApril, capped an ongoing investigation of the visit, defenseattorneys say. Seidel, who was CIA station chief in Amman, the Jordanian capital,at the time, says he accompanied the king on the visit to Moyock.Maguire says he has information about the gift guns and "howthe U.S. government's authorization for the transfer of thoseweapons took place." The former Blackwater executives are asking the judge in thefirearms case to order the CIA to produce all relevant documentsabout the visit. The case has not yet been set for trial.
Abdullah II assumed the Jordanian throne on the death of hisfather, King Hussein, in 1999. According to his official onlinebiography, he is a 41st-generation direct descendant of the ProphetMohammad. He is a former commander of Jordan's Special Forces. Along with cars, motorcycles and free-fall parachuting, he is saidto have a passion for ancient weapons and maintains a world-classcollection of military artifacts.
Blackwater/Academi has banked more than $2 billion from securityand training contracts with various federal agencies, including theCIA, since 2002. Several former CIA officials later went to workfor the company. The indicted former executives are Gary Jackson, president; WilliamMathews, executive vice president; Andrew Howell, general counsel;Ana Bundy, vice president of logistics and procurement; and RonaldSlezak, who was responsible for firearms documentation. Bill Sizemore, 757-446-2276, email@example.com.
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