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Forum Post: The man who headed up the CIA Bin Laden unit worked for drug traffickers- Ties between CIA, BLACKWATER and NARCO TRAFFICKERS

Posted 1 year ago on Oct. 30, 2012, 2:01 p.m. EST by amandayee (35)
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EXHIBIT 19: Journalist Evan Wright discovers ties between drug cartels and CIA outsourcing of assassinations and intelligence to private contractors. When Wright interviewed a drug trafficker named Jon Roberts, he disclosed participation in a murder with a hitman who would later join the CIA and rise to the top level of the agency. Meyer Lansky’s stepson Richard Schwartz was killed on October 12, 1977, allegedly by the man who would eventually run the unit hunting for terrorist Osama Bin Laden. Ric Prado joined the CIA in 1982. By the time of the 9/11 attacks, he was the chief of counterterrorist operations with the rank of SIS-2. He would later leave the CIA to become a Vice-President at Blackwater from 2004 to 2008. The evidence against Ric Prado was so compelling that one investigator from the case described him as “technically, a serial killer.” Mike Fisten, a former Miami-Dade detective who served on the federal task force stated “The CIA fought us tooth and nail, and basically told us to go fuck ourselves.” Evan Wright interviewed more than a dozen law enforcement officials for this story. He was told “You can’t indict people like Prado. It doesn’t work that way.”

One law enforcement official emailed Wright: “Your target is bad news and dangerous. Be careful.” Wright later contacted the official by phone regarding the email and was told “Forget this story. I dropped Prado’s name on a friend of mine from the CIA and he said, ‘Leave this one alone. You don’t want to fuck with this guy.’ ” When the law enforcement official persisted and asked his contact at CIA what he thought, the reply was“You’re going to get whacked.” Prado is now COO at Total Intelligence Solutions, a private intelligence and security company.

The Terrifying Background of the Man Who Ran a CIA Assassination Unit By Conor Friedersdorf (July27, 2012) A federal investigation alleged Enrique Prado's involvement in seven murders, yet he was in charge when America outsourced covert killing to a private company. It was one of the biggest secrets of the post-9/11 era: soon after the attacks, President Bush gave the CIA permission to create a top secret assassination unit to find and kill Al Qaeda operatives. The program was kept from Congress for seven years. And when Leon Panetta told legislators about it in 2009, he revealed that the CIA had hired the private security firm Blackwater to help run it. "The move was historic," says Evan Wright, the two-time National Magazine Award-winning journalist who wrote Generation Kill. "It seems to have marked the first time the U.S. government outsourced a covert assassination service to private enterprise."

The quote is from his e-book How to Get Away With Murder in America, which goes on to note that "in the past, the CIA was subject to oversight, however tenuous, from the president and Congress," but that "President Bush's 2001 executive order severed this line by transferring to the CIA his unique authority to approve assassinations. By removing himself from the decision-making cycle, the president shielded himself -- and all elected authority -- from responsibility should a mission go wrong or be found illegal. When the CIA transferred the assassination unit to Blackwater, it continued the trend. CIA officers would no longer participate in the agency's most violent operations, or witness them. If it practiced any oversight at all, the CIA would rely on Blackwater's self-reporting about missions it conducted. Running operations through Blackwater gave the CIA the power to have people abducted, or killed, with no one in the government being exactly responsible." None of this is new information, though I imagine that many people reading this item are hearing about it for the first time.

Isn't that bizarre?

The bulk of Wright's e-book (full disclosure: I help edit the website of Byliner, publisher of the e-book) tells the story of Enrique Prado, a high-ranking CIA-officer-turned-Blackwater-employee who oversaw assassination units for both the CIA and the contractor. To whom was this awesome responsibility entrusted? According to Wright's investigation, a federal organized crime squad run out of the Miami-Dade Police Department produced an investigation allegedly tying Prado to seven murders carried out while he worked as a bodyguard for a narco crime boss. At the time, the CIA declared him unavailable for questioning; the investigation was shut down before he was arrested or tried.

There's a lot more to the story -- Wright's e-book is almost 50 pages long -- but this bit is of particular note:

The reporting on Prado's activities at Blackwater produced no evidence that the firm's employees had ever killed anyone on behalf of the CIA. But I spoke to Blackwater employees who insisted that they had. Two Blackwater contractors told me that their firm began conducting assassinations in Afghanistan as early as 2008. They claimed to have participated in such operations -- one in a support role, the other as a "trigger puller." The contractors, to whom I spoke in 2009 and 2010, were both ex-Special Forces soldiers who were not particularly bothered by assassination work, although they did question the legality of Blackwater's involvement in it.

According to the "trigger puller," he and a partner were selected for one such operation because they were Mexican Americans, whose darker skin enabled them to blend in as Afghan civilians. The first mission he described took place in 2008. He and his partner spent three weeks training outside Kabul, becoming accustomed to walking barefoot like Afghans while toting weapons underneath their jackets. Their mission centered on walking into a market and killing the occupant of a pickup truck, whose identity a CIA case worker had provided to them. They succeeded in their mission, he told me, and moved on to another. This contractor's story didn't completely fit with other accounts about Prado's unit at Blackwater. The e-mail written by Prado and later obtained by the Times seemed to indicate that the unit wouldn't use Americans to carry out actual assassinations. Moreover, two CIA sources insisted that the contractors I spoke to were lying. As one put it, "These guys are security guards who want to look like Rambo."

When I asked Ed O'Connell, a former Air Force colonel and RAND analyst with robust intelligence experience in Afghanistan, to evaluate these contractors' claims, he first told me they were almost certainly a "fantastical crock of shit." But a year later, in 2011, after a research trip in Afghanistan for his firm Alternative Strategies Institute, O'Connell had changed his assessment. He told me, "Your sources seem to have been correct. Private contractors are whacking people like crazy over in Afghanistan for the CIA." So there you have it: A former Air Force lieutenant colonel, speaking on the record and using the present tense, said in 2011 that "private contractors are whacking people like crazy over in Afghanistan for the CIA."

Says Wright:

While Blackwater's covert unit began as a Bush administration story, President Obama now owns it. In 2010, his administration intervened on behalf of the Blackwater executives indicted for weapons trafficking, filing motions to suppress evidence on the grounds that it could compromise national security. The administration then awarded Blackwater (which is now called Academi) a $250 million contract to perform unspecified services for the CIA. At the same time, Obama has publicly taken responsibility for some lethal operations -- the Navy SEALs' sniper attack on Somali pirates, the raid on bin Laden. His aides have also said that he reviews target lists for drone strikes. The president's actions give him the appearance of a man who wants the best of both worlds. He appears as a tough, resolute leader when he announces his role in killings that will likely be popular -- a pirate, a terrorist. But the apparatus for less accountable killings grinds on. Needless to say, this ought to spark an investigation, but more than that, it should cause Americans to step back and reflect on how vulnerable we've made ourselves to bad actors in the post-9/11 era. We're giving C.I.A. agents and even private security contractors the sort of power no individual should wield. And apparently our screening apparatus turns out to be lacking.
Source: http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2012/07/the-terrifying-background-of-the-man-who-ran-a-cia-assassination-unit/259856/


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[-] 2 points by amandayee (35) 1 year ago

Drug lords, dirty pols, obsessed cops, and the quiet man who became the CIA’s master killer. How to Get Away with Murder in America In 2008, Jon Roberts, a convicted cocaine trafficker, made a startling claim to me: that more than three decades earlier he had participated in a murder with a man named Ricky Prado, who later entered the Central Intelligence Agency and became a top American spy. The murder to which Roberts referred was one of Miami’s most infamous, that of Richard Schwartz, stepson of the legendary mobster Meyer Lansky. Schwartz was killed on the morning of October 12, 1977, behind a restaurant near Miami Beach. He was exiting his car when a person unknown approached him and fired twice with a shotgun, at such close range that cotton wadding from the shells impregnated Schwartz’s flesh. The murder has never been solved. Roberts claimed that Prado was the shooter, provided by a local Cuban drug kingpin named Alberto “Albert” San Pedro, for whom Prado worked as an enforcer and occasional hit man. Roberts confessed to planning the murder with two mafiosi, Gary Teriaca and Robert “Bobby” Erra. According to Roberts, the three of them waited near the scene of the shooting in his boat, in order to take Prado’s weapon and dispose of it in Biscayne Bay. The politics of Roberts’s story made sense. Months earlier, Schwartz had fatally shot Teriaca’s younger brother in a dispute at the Forge restaurant, in Miami Beach. As Roberts explained it, the three of them participated in the murder to avenge the death of Teriaca’s brother. Prado entered the picture because his boss, San Pedro, was eager to prove his loyalty to the Mafia. What made Roberts’s story unbelievable was his claim that four years after the shooting, Prado joined the CIA. In Miami, thugs often claim ties to the CIA. The agency recruited hundreds of Cuban immigrants for the Bay of Pigs invasion in 1961, and many of them later became drug traffickers. But Roberts’s story was different. He claimed Prado was a criminal first and then became a career CIA officer. This seemed doubtful until I discovered that there was a CIA officer named Enrique Prado (“Ricky” or “Ric” for short), whom federal agents had targeted in a 1991 RICO and murder investigation into his alleged career—before he entered the agency—as an enforcer for San Pedro. The investigators had obtained evidence implicating Prado in the murder of Schwartz and several others, as well as in numerous acts of extortion and arson undertaken in support of San Pedro’s drug-trafficking enterprise. Prado was interviewed by federal investigators at CIA headquarters in Langley, Virginia, and served with a subpoena to appear before a grand jury. But somehow the subpoena was quashed. No charges were ever filed against him. Within a few years, the CIA promoted Prado into the highest reaches of its Clandestine Services and made him a supervisor in the unit tasked with hunting Osama bin Laden in the late 1990s. At the time of the 9/11 attacks, he was the chief of counterterrorist operations. With the rank of SIS-2—the CIA equivalent of a two-star or major general—he was among a small circle of officers who helped implement the CIA-led invasion of Afghanistan and directed SEAL Team Six on missions there. Throughout his later years at the agency and then at Blackwater, the private military contracting firm where Prado held a senior position, he worked closely with J. Cofer Black, now a top adviser to Mitt Romney. The story Roberts told, and the two halves of Prado’s life in the 1990s—murder suspect/stellar CIA officer—made no sense. When I initially searched for the case files of the investigation into Prado —conducted jointly by the FBI and the Miami-Dade Police Department—I discovered they’d disappeared from the MDPD’s records bureau. When I located them elsewhere through a tip from a federal investigator, they were far more extensive than I had expected. There were some three thousand pages, including interviews with eyewitnesses who placed Prado at numerous crimes. I eventually interviewed more than two dozen people involved with the investigation—cops, FBI agents, federal prosecutors, and witnesses—who provided a disturbing portrait of a case abandoned because of CIA intervention, political maneuvering, and possibly corruption. The evidence against Prado was so compelling that one investigator from the case described him as “technically, a serial killer.” “It was a miscarriage of justice that Prado never faced charges,” says Mike Fisten, the lead homicide investigator on the case. “The CIA fought us tooth and nail, and basically told us to go fuck ourselves.” Another investigator from the case, who is now a Florida law enforcement official, said, “You can’t indict people like Prado. It doesn’t work that way.” Later he e-mailed me: “Your target is bad news and dangerous. Be careful.” When I phoned him, he said, “Forget this story. I dropped Prado’s name on a friend of mine from the CIA and he said, ‘Leave this one alone. You don’t want to fuck with this guy.’ ” “What do you think?” I asked him. “You’re going to get whacked.” No public official I’ve interviewed had ever made such a comment. Yet his warning is in keeping with the amazing story of Ricky Prado and his rise from the criminal underworld into the top echelons of the national-security establishment. It’s a story you’d expect to encounter in the twilight stages of a corrupt dictatorship, but this one takes place mostly in Miami. It centers on Prado’s long relationship with San Pedro, and on the cop who began pursuing them more than two decades ago and still hopes to put them in prison for murder. In protecting Prado, the CIA arguably allowed a new type of mole—an agent not of a foreign government but of American criminal interests—to penetrate its command.


[-] 2 points by amandayee (35) 1 year ago

Did a CIA Agent Work for the Mob? Thursday, June 28, 2012, 1:57am (PDT) By Evan Wright In 2008, Jon Roberts, a convicted cocaine trafficker, made a startling claim to me: that more than three decades earlier he had participated in a murder with a man named Ricky Prado, who later entered the Central Intelligence Agency and became a top American spy. The murder to which Roberts referred was one of Miami's most infamous, that of Richard Schwartz, stepson of the legendary mobster Meyer Lansky. Schwartz was killed on the morning of October 12, 1977, behind a restaurant. He was exiting his car when a person unknown approached him and fired twice with a shotgun. The murder has never been solved. Roberts claimed that Prado was the shooter, provided by a local Cuban drug kingpin named Alberto “Albert” San Pedro, for whom Prado worked as an enforcer and occasional hit man. What made Roberts's story unbelievable was his claim that shortly after the shooting, Prado joined the CIA. Not long after Roberts told his tale, I found there was a CIA officer named Enrique "Ricky" Prado, who joined the agency in 1982 and eventually attained the rank of SIS-2, the equivalent of a two-star general. He served as a supervisor in the bin Laden unit, and by the time of the 9/11 attacks, he was a top official in the CIA's counterterrorist center. He later ran the "targeted assassination unit"—first at the agency and then at Blackwater, where he served as vice-president from 2004 to 2008. During much of his career in and out of the CIA, Prado worked closely with J. Cofer Black, now a top adviser to Mitt Romney. It was impossible to believe that Roberts's allegations about Prado had merit until I found long- suppressed files from a 1991 federal RICO and murder investigation that targeted Prado for his alleged role as a criminal enforcer for San Pedro prior to joining the CIA. No charges were filed against Prado. A subpoena compelling him to testify before a federal grand jury was quashed. His rise in the CIA continued after the case disappeared. Officers who know him described him to me as a “good guy.” But law enforcement officials from the 1991 investigation tell a different story. In interviews I conducted with more than a dozen, they offered a disturbing portrait of a case abandoned because of CIA intervention, political maneuvering, and corruption. Their evidence linked Prado not just to the Schwartz murder, but to several others. They also revealed Prado's continued association with San Pedro long after he joined the agency. “It was a miscarriage of justice that Prado never faced charges,” says Mike Fisten, a former Miami- Dade detective who served on the federal task force. “The CIA fought us tooth and nail, and basically told us to go fuck ourselves.” Echoing other investigators, Fisten says that Prado beat the case because of his former boss Albert San Pedro's “power to corrupt the American justice system.” Fisten adds, “Ricky and Albert are two sides of the same coin, gangster and CIA officer. Those two are always connected. You can't get one without the other.” Ricky and Albert Albert San Pedro, speaking unknowingly into an undercover cop's tape recorder, once shared the quality he valued most in men who worked for him: “The best man is the quiet man.” Prado is the consummate quiet man. He was born Enrique Alejandro Prado on May 3, 1950, in Santa Clara, Cuba. The Prados were on the losing side of the revolution in 1959, and soon afterwards they fled to Miami. Enrique Sr. opened a lawn-mower shop and later became a locksmith. Ricky and Albert San Pedro met around 1966 at Miami Springs High School. They shared a passion for weight lifting. About this time, Albert also started his first business: For fifty dollars, he would kick anybody's ass. “If Albert couldn't take someone physically, he would use a baseball bat, a tire iron, whatever,” says "Teo," a friend of theirs. “He was like a mobster guy already. Ricky was always by his side. He was his lieutenant.” While other kids rode the currents of free love sweeping the nation in the late 1960s, Albert and Ricky went in the opposite direction. They kept their hair short and pomaded it back in ducktails. They didn't smoke weed—though Albert would soon start selling it. Albert acquired a Chevy Chevelle SS muscle car. “When people saw that car coming,” says Teo, “they ran.” After graduation, Ricky joined the military. A recruiter talked him into entering the Air Force special operations branch. Albert still lived with his parents, but as profits from his nascent cocaine business rolled in, he reinvented his image from neighborhood bully to shot caller. Neighbors began referring to the twenty-four-year-old as the “Mayor of Hialeah.” In 1973, Ricky was posted to Homestead Air Force base. In military terms, his special operations certification was like a Harvard MBA, but in the civilian job market, skills in knife fighting and improvised bomb making weren't much in demand. He gravitated back to Albert and began doing odd jobs for him—providing muscle, delivering packages. Albert found a way for Ricky and other toughs who worked for him to legally carry weapons: He founded the Transworld Detective Agency. The company's corporate filings listed Albert's house as its headquarters and Ricky as its “president of records.” In 1980, Ricky began sending applications to federal agencies. He told his wife that the State Department had hired him. They moved to Seabrook, Maryland, and he put on a suit every morning, telling his wife he “worked in a lab doing medical work.” He was in fact a recruit in the CIA's paramilitary officer program, and would soon be on his way to fight the agency's covert war to arm the contras in Central America. Somehow, the agency either missed or ignored his long association with Albert, who by then had been identified by law enforcement as one of the ten biggest cocaine traffickers in South Florida. The CIA On June 29, 1991, the RICO task force sent FBI Special Agent Fred Harden and Miami-Dade homicide sergeant Al Singleton to CIA headquarters to interview Prado. Prado was forty-one. His hairline was receding, but he was visibly muscle-bound even in a suit. He carried himself with almost exaggerated military precision. When Harden asked Ricky about his relationship with Albert, he said they were “close friends” and admitted working for him as a bodyguard. He insisted he had no knowledge of Albert's cocaine trafficking and had never committed any violent acts for him. But when Singleton pitched him the idea of cooperating against Albert in exchange for immunity, Ricky's response floored the investigators. As noted in the federal report: Prado advised that if he knew of any criminal activities on behalf of San Pedro, he would have to have protection. For example, if Prado witnessed San Pedro murder someone (and he is not implying that he did), Prado would definitely have to have protection for his family. Believing they had secured his cooperation, Harden served Ricky with a subpoena to testify before a grand jury. The task force prepared a thirty-four-page summary of twenty-nine acts with which to indict Ricky on RICO charges, but the U.S. Attorney's office soon backed down. The CIA also ceased cooperating. “People started telling me that we were pissing upstream,” says Fisten. “But my attitude was fuck the CIA. If they want to obstruct our RICO investigation, we had numerous murders to pursue against him.” Most people connected with the investigation moved on, but Fisten remains committed to a simple, if quixotic, proposition: “Ricky and Albert are guilty of murder and need to go to prison for it.” Source: http://powerwall.msnbc.msn.com/politics/did-a-cia-agent-work-for-the-mob-1721447.story