The latest trove of WikiLeak documents reveals as fact what we had all heard anyway, that Blackwater, the international security firm, wanted to try its hand in Somali pirate hunting.
However it seems the company ultimately dropped the effort after a lack of interest and U.S. government concern.
In late 2008, Blackwater “reconfigured a 183-foot oceanographic research vessel into a pirate-hunting ship for hire,” arming the McArthur with “.50-caliber machine guns and a small, unarmed drone aircraft.”
According to the New York Times, they even outlined their rules of engagement, specifying, “Blackwater does not intend to take any pirates into custody, but will use lethal force against pirates if necessary.”
Despite Blackwater’s best-laid plans, the U.S embassy in Djibouti was hesitant about working with the controversial firm, which was then under attack for alleged prisoner abuses in Afghanistan and Iraq.
James Swan, the American ambassador in Djibouti , sent a cable requesting “guidance on the appropriate level of engagement with Blackwater.” Ultimately, the plan fell flat, but as the New York Times points out, the company (now called Xe) is coping just fine: earlier this year, it was granted a $100 million government contract.