How Close Are Blackwater and JSOC?

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Earlier this week I wrote about Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC), the military special forces command once run directly out of the Bush White House that is now displacing some of the CIA's more shadowy work in national security and counterterrorism. Vanity Fair's profile of Blackwater CEO Erik Prince may now reveal even more authority under JSOC's belt.

Prince outs himself as a CIA asset, a relationship that presumably did much to strengthen Blackwater's incredibly close ties to the agency. But his admission would seem to effectively end that relationship (or, more to the point, imply that it had been ended). Vanity Fair explored Prince's and Blackwater's CIA work in detail, yet it conspicuously wrote around the company's well-established work with JSOC, making no mention of the group. Why?

Marcy Wheeler thinks the profile is "an attempt to fully burn one cover, in an attempt to sustain another cover." Could Prince be airing his CIA work to distract from his work with JSOC? As I wrote, operations from predator drones to militant detention seem to be shifting from the CIA to JSOC. As Marc wrote, Blackwater is controversial within the CIA and with the agency's congressional overseers. But JSOC has no such problems. If Blackwater's special operations work is being moved from CIA to JSOC, that would help Blackwater continue programs like drone-spotting in Pakistan unabated. It would also be yet another case of transferring authority from CIA to JSOC.

In related news, the State Department -- not the Pentagon -- is now fielding media inquiries about JSOC, further removing them from the traditional military command.

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Max Fisher is a former writer and editor at The Atlantic.

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