Pentagon concerned over Blackwater`s work in Afghanistan
Washington: US Defence Secretary Robert Gates is concerned about possible misconduct in Afghanistan by the private security firm formerly known as Blackwater and has promised to review the issue, the Pentagon said.
Gates made the pledge to lawmakers after receiving a letter from Carl Levin, the chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, who urged the defence secretary to
reconsider awarding a possible USD 1 billion contract to the firm, now known as Xe, due to allegations of wrongdoing.
"He is looking into it and he takes it seriously," press secretary Geoff Morrell told reporters yesterday.
Gates has told the senator that "he shares his (Levin`s) concerns," Morrell said.
The letter dated February 25 and released publicly on Thursday notes that the Defence Department is reportedly preparing to give a contract to Xe for "highly sensitive work"
to train Afghan national police, despite its controversial record in Iraq and amid fresh allegations of misconduct.
The letter cites a recent Senate hearing on a contract given to a Blackwater affiliate to provide weapons training in Afghanistan.
Levin`s committee heard evidence that alleged that Blackwater may have used a front company for the contract, lied to Pentagon officials in its proposal documents, "misappropriated" government weapons, carried weapons without approval and hired staff with serious criminal records including larceny and substance abuse.
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