Blackwater Contracts, Short on Detail

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By Robert O'Harrow Jr.
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, December 8, 2007

The State Department has released copies of its contracts for private security services with Blackwater Lodge and Training Center and Blackwater Security Consulting. It's a hefty 323-page stack, and it comes with a catch:

About 169 of the pages are blank or mostly blank.

Released in response to a Freedom of Information Act request, the contracts -- worth up to $1.2 billion -- have been heavily redacted by the government. A State Department spokesman said the officials responsible for the cuts are simply trying to protect sensitive information that might put individuals at risk. He declined to say what kind of information was cut.

In a cover letter, the department notes that it "gave full consideration" to deletions recommended by Blackwater officials.

A close look at the pages that have not been cut reveals some choice tidbits. The "statement of work" on Page 13 explains why Blackwater was needed. "As a result of conflicts, wars, political unrest and more recently, terrorist activity, these areas have become extremely dangerous places in which to live and work," the document says. "The Bureau of Diplomatic Security is unable to provide protective services on a long-term basis from its pool of Special Agents."

Page 35 specifies that "All Contracting employees working under this contract should: Be well proportioned in height and weight," among other qualities.

One unnumbered item includes a long list of things. But because it's surrounded by blank pages, it's hard to know what the list means. Among the items mentioned: battery carrier tool, quick booster kit, heavy-duty work bench, distilled water and WD-40.

A "standards of conduct" section warns that "abusive or offensive language, quarreling, intimidation by words, actions, or fighting, is considered unacceptable performance under this contract."

To see a sample of the redactions and a more complete account, go to http://www.washingtonpost.com/governmentinc.


© 2007 The Washington Post Company

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