Secret State Department cables reveal that U.S. diplomats were confused over whether they should help the American company Blackwater hunt pirates on the high seas.
In late 2008, Blackwater, accused of killing civilians under a U.S. contract in Iraq, decided to go into the pirate-hunting business. The company outfitted the McArthur, a U.S.-flagged ship, with .50-caliber machine guns and a small drone aircraft, The New York Times reports. Its mission would be unprecedented: to battle pirates on the high seas and protect U.S. commercial interests.
That's according to secret U.S. diplomatic cables published by WikiLeaks. The cables quote the U.S. ambassador in Djibouti, James Swan, as asking the State Department for "guidance on the appropriate level of engagement with Blackwater." After all, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton had proposed banning Blackwater from war zones when she was running for president less than a year earlier.
In the end, Blackwater's pirate-fighting plans didn't come to fruition. Some of its employees filed lawsuits complaining of racial discrimination and inhumane punishments -- such as being "placed in irons" -- aboard the Blackwater ship.
And U.S. diplomats seem to have gotten over their concerns. Earlier this year, Blackwater -- now renamed Xe Services -- won a $100 million contract to protect CIA bases in Afghanistan.
Read more at The New York Times.