A controversial CIA contractor has found new work in Haiti, flying drones on disaster recovery duty.
When last we heard from Evergreen International Aviation, the
Oregon-based firm was offering to post sentries at local voting centers
during the 2008 election, "detaining troublemakers" and making sure voters "do not get out of control."
Now, company vice president Sam White tells Aviation Week that the firm is flying at least one ScanEagle surveillance drone
over Haiti. "The company has a fleet of 747s and a fleet of large and
small choppers, and has begun ferrying in supplies to Port au Prince,"
the magazine's Paul McLeary
notes. "White wouldn't say who the company is moving cargo for, saying
only that ‘we're working with different agencies, and we have one plane
coming in tomorrow full of humanitarian supplies.'"
Over the years, Evergreen has had all sorts of interesting
clients over its five-plus decades in operation. Back in the late '80s,
the company "acknowledged one agreement under which his companies
provide occasional jobs and cover to foreign nationals the CIA wants
taken out of other countries or brought into the United States." In
2006, Evergreen's parent company flew Bill O'Reilly into Kuwait in 2006, according toSourceWatch. Last April, the company won a $158 million contract to supply the Air Force with helicopters in Afghanistan.
Haiti wouldn't be Evergreen's first disaster-response mission, however. In September, the State of California chartered Evergreen's 747 supertanker, to help put out forest fires there.
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UPDATE: Brian Whiteside, executive vice president
of Evergreen Unmanned Systems, denied that his company is flying drones
for the earthquake recovery operation. "We have no UAVs [unmanned
aerial vehicles] in Haiti - nothing currently in Haiti, and nothing in
the region,"he tells Danger Room. Whiteside acknowledged that "we do
have teams over there that are trying to help." But Whiteside isn't
sure what, exactly, they've been able to accomplish. "We don't have
very good comms with them." And when I asked him which government
agency or charity Evergreen was trying to support, he ducked the
question, and referred me to his spokesperson.
UPDATE 2: McLeary went back and posted the quotes he got from Evergreen's Sam White.
"We also have some UAVs here that we're bringing in to, uh, probably
work with the press to help out downloading live video links and aerial
shots of the devastation," he said. "We also have 747 cargo airplanes,
and so we're working with different agencies there and uh, we have a
plane landing here tomorrow to bring in a lot of humanitarian supplies.
So we'll be here for quite some time."
So which Evergreen exec is telling the truth?