Defense Secretary Robert Gates Confirms Blackwater in Pakistan

In an interview with the Pakistani TV station Express TV, Defense
Secretary Robert Gates confirmed that the private security firms
Blackwater and DynCorp are operating inside Pakistan. "They're
operating as individual companies here in Pakistan," Gates said,
according to a DoD transcript
of the interview. "There are rules concerning the contracting
companies. If they're contracting with us or with the State Department
here in Pakistan, then there are very clear rules set forth by the
State Department and by ourselves."

This appears to be a contradiction of previous statements made by
the Defense Department, by Blackwater, by the Pakistani government and
by the US embassy in Islamabad, all of whom claimed Blackwater was not
in the country. In September, the US Ambassador to Pakistan, Anne
Patterson, denied Blackwater's presence in the country, stating
bluntly, "Blackwater is not operating in Pakistan." In December in The Nation magazine, I reported
on Blackwater's work for JSOC in Pakistan and on a subcontract with a
private Pakistani security company. The Pentagon did not issue any
clear public denials, and instead tried to pass the buck
to the State Department, which in turn passed it to the US embassy,
which in turn issued an unsigned statement saying the story was false.

Pakistan's Interior Minister Rehman Malik has said on numerous occasions that he would resign if it is proven that Blackwater is operating inside Pakistan.

Asked what the US response would be if the Pakistani parliament
passed a law banning private security companies, Gates said, "If it's
Pakistani law, we will absolutely comply."

Asked about Seymour Hersh's recent report in The New Yorker
that US special forces were inside Pakistan helping to secure the
country's nuclear weapons, Gates said, "Well, you know, we sometimes
have journalistic reports in the United States that aren't terribly
accurate either. You can't respond to all of them. I think that one
was not true."

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