Blackwater executive joins Romney in presidential campaign
Fayetteville Observer (2007-04-26) Associated Press
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The Associated Press
An executive with North Carolina-based private security contractor Blackwater USA has joined Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney as a senior adviser, the campaign said Thursday.
Cofer Black, who was the director of the CIA Counterterrorism Center during the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, has been vice chairman for two years at the firm, which specializes in security and military services. Black also helped shape President Bush's counterterrorism policy after the attacks.
"He has a long and impressive career dedicated to making America safer and more secure in the world," Romney said in a written statement. "Our country faces a new generation of challenges and Black's experience at the forefront of our nation's counterterrorism efforts will be a tremendous asset."
Romney, a former Massachusetts governor, hired Black as a senior adviser for counterterrorism and national security issues.
Black helped develop Blackwater USA into a powerful security firm that has received hundreds of millions of dollars worth of government contracts for services in Iraq. At its rural 7,000-acre headquarters in Moyock, Blackwater trains active-duty military and civilian personnel to support U.S. government operations at home and abroad.
The company, which mostly hires former military or law enforcement personnel for its security teams, also wants to create armies-for-hire. Black said last year the brigade-size forces could be hired to stabilize hotspots such as the Darfur region of Sudan.
Earlier this year, Black formed a company called Total Intelligence Solutions, which compiles private intelligence for companies. He also serves as CEO of The Black Group, which provides security for corporations.
Black worked in the CIA's Directorate of Operations for 28 years before moving to the U.S. Department of State, where he was the coordinator for counterterrorism between December 2002 and November 2004. While there, he helped the Bush administration build its counterterrorism policy.
"Romney sees clearly the threat in front of us and will give our military and intelligence professionals the tools and leadership they need to ensure that America remains strong, free and prosperous," Black said in a written statement provided by the Romney campaign.
A Blackwater spokeswoman did not immediately return a phone call seeking comment Thursday.