CIA Defends Blackwater Contract

Blackwater changed its name (it’s now called Xe), but its reputation has stuck to it like crude oil on a Gulf bird.

So it wasn’t much of a surprise that when news of a $100 million contract with the CIA broke this week, some members of Congress were very angry.

“I’m just mystified why any branch of the government would decide to hire Blackwater, such a repeat offender” Rep. Jan Schakowsky, D-Illinois, told ABC News. “We’re talking about murder… A company with a horrible reputation that really jeopardizes our mission in so many different, different ways.”

This morning, in an EXCLUSIVE interview on “This Week,” host Jake Tapper put that question to CIA Director Leon Panetta.

“I have to tell you that in the war zone, we continue to have needs for security. You've got a lot of forward bases. We've got a lot of attacks on some of these bases. We've got to have security,” Panetta said.

“Unfortunately, there are a few companies that provide that kind of security. The State Department relies on them, we rely on them to a certain extent,” the CIA chief explained.

“So we bid out some of those contracts. They provided a bid that was underbid everyone else by about $26 million. And a panel that we had said that they can do the job, that they have shaped up their act. So there really was not much choice but to accept that contract,” he said.

Panetta added that he is reviewing all of the bids that the CIA has with Xe.

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