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Tracking militarists’ efforts to influence U.S. foreign policy

Cofer Black

  • Mitt Romney 2012 Adviser
  • Former Blackwater Vice President
  • Former CIA Officer

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Cofer Black is a former CIA officer, State Department official, and Blackwater executive who advised both the 2008 and 2012 presidential campaigns of former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney.

During the 2012 campaign, conservative journalist Eli Lake described Black as “Mitt Romney’s trusted envoy to the dark side” of the U.S. intelligence community. “Black has known Romney since 2007, when the candidate was running for president the first time, and has been an important adviser ever since,” Lake wrote. “But unlike other Romney foreign-policy aides, he does not spend time tweaking speeches or coming up with nuanced ways to explain the candidate’s positions on international affairs. Instead, he often acts as the campaign’s in-house intelligence officer,” arranging meetings for the candidate with former intelligence officials and providing briefs from foreign intelligence agencies.[1]

Black’s 28-year CIA career reached its peak from 1999-2002, when Black served as the head of the CIA’s Counterterrorist Center (CTC). As one of the primary CIA officers charged with pursuing Al Qaeda operatives both before and after the September 11 attacks, Black faced considerable scrutiny for his role in the government’s failure to stop the attackers. A classified report from the CIA’s internal watchdog, reported the Guardian, implicated Black in the CIA’s “failure to place hijackers Khalid al-Midhar and Nawaf Alhazmi on a government watchlist in 2000 and to inform the FBI that the other September 11 hijackers had entered the US,” leaving Black subject to a possible formal reprimand.[2]

After the September 11 attacks, Black famously remarked of Al Qaeda, “When we're through with them they will have flies walking across their eyeballs.”[3] He later told Russian officials, whose help he sought as the United States prepared to invade Afghanistan, "We're going to kill them. We're going to put their heads on sticks. We're going to rock their world."[4]

In the early days of the war on terror, according to theWashington Post, Black was “known for his leading role in many of the [CIA]’s more controversial programs, including the rendition and interrogation of al-Qaeda suspects and the detention of some of them in secret prisons overseas.”[5] According to the 9/11 Commission Report, Black was also an early advocate of launching unmanned drone strikes against alleged enemy combatants in Afghanistan.[6]

Black left government service in 2004 after serving two years as the Bush administration’s ambassador at large for counterterrorism, signing on as a Vice Chairman of Blackwater USA, the controversial private security firm founded by Erik Prince. At Blackwater, Black assembled the “Total Intelligence Solutions” operation, a risk consultancy for private corporations doing business overseas that, Black told the Washington Post, brought “the skills traditionally honed by CIA operatives directly to the board room.” He added, “We provide intelligence to our clients. It's not about taking pictures. It's business intelligence. We collect all information that's publicly available. This is a completely legal enterprise. We break no laws. We don't go anywhere near breaking laws. We don't have to."[7]

Black resigned from Blackwater in 2008, reportedly after learning of the company’s bribing of Iraqi officials as protests came to a head over the Nisour Square massacre, a 2007 incident in which Blackwater employees murdered 17 Iraqi civilians and wounded dozens more in an apparently indiscriminate attack.[8]

According to the biography from his speakers bureau (which also credits him with having “conceived, planned and led the CIA’s war in Afghanistan”), Black “is currently the Vice President of Blackbird Technologies, a military contractor that offers state-of-the-art technology-based solutions to intelligence, defense and corporate challenges.”[9]

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Please note: IPS Right Web neither represents nor endorses any of the individuals or groups profiled on this site.

Sources

[1] Eli Lake, “Meet Mitt Romney’s Trusted Envoy to the Dark Side, Cofer Black,” The Daily Beast, April 11, 2012, http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2012/04/11/meet-mitt-romney-s-trusted-envoy-to-the-dark-side-cofer-black.html.

[2] David Fickling, “Tenet could face 9/11 reprimand,” Guardian, August 26, 2005, http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2005/aug/26/usa.september11.

[3] Bob Woodward, Bush at War (Simon & Schuster: 2002), p. 53.

[4] Bob Woodward, Bush at War (Simon & Schuster: 2002), p. 103.

[5] Dana Hedgpeth, “Blackwater's Owner Has Spies for Hire,” Washington Post, November 3, 2007, http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/11/02/AR2007110202165_pf.html.

[6] 9/11 Commission Report, Section 6.5: “The New Administration’s Approach,” http://www.9-11commission.gov/report/911Report_Ch6.htm.

[7] Dana Hedgpeth, “Blackwater's Owner Has Spies for Hire,” Washington Post, November 3, 2007, http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/11/02/AR2007110202165_pf.html.

[8] Mark Mazzetti and James Risen, “Blackwater Said to Pursue Bribes to Iraq After 17 Died,” New York Times, November 10, 2009, http://www.nytimes.com/2009/11/11/world/middleeast/11blackwater.html?_r=1&pagewanted=all.

[9] Greater Talent Network, Cofer Black, http://www.greatertalent.com/CoferBlack/.

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Cofer Black Résumé

Affiliations

  • Mitt Romney 2012 Presidential Campaign: Foreign policy advisor
  • Mitt Romney 2008 Presidential Campaign: Foreign policy advisor


Business

  • Blackbird Technologies: Vice President (current)
  • Blackwater USA/International: Vice Chairman, Head of Total Intelligence Solutions (2005-2008)


Government

  • U.S. State Department: Ambassador at large for counterterrorism (2002-2004)
  • Central Intelligence Agency: Various posts from 1974-2002, head of Counterterrorism Center 1999-2002


Education

  • University of Southern California: MA, BA

Related:

Cofer Black News Feed

Former CIA exec describes 9/11 experience to Kent State students - Record-CourierFor Leonard Hamilton, the game is not over - ESPNBAFTA Awards Nominations 2019: Complete List - Hollywood ReporterMeet Mitt Romney's Trusted Envoy to the Dark Side, Cofer Black - Daily BeastGina Haspel, the CIA pick: Russia, counter-terrorism and Crufts - BBC NewsDBR Podcast #142: Cam Reddish’s big shot at Florida State - Duke Basketball ReportTranscript: Phil Reilly talks with Michael Morell on "Intelligence Matters" podcast - CBS NewsWho's Who Of American War Criminals And Torture Apologists Endorse Gina Haspel For CIA Director - Shadowproof‘Stocking Strangler’ execution tops Columbus crime news for 2018 - Ledger-EnquirerJoseph Cofer Black: "I am excited to join Burisma's Board of Directors and to focus on strategic development and security issues to expand Burisma's global opportunities” - Feb. 15, 2017 - Kyiv PostLady Gaga, 'Bohemian Rhapsody' Nominated For 2019 BAFTA Awards - BillboardWarren boys win, girls fall | News, Sports, Jobs - Parkersburg NewsWednesday's college basketball roundup: State's ACC rivals stay on course for Tuesday clash as No. 4 U.Va. dominates, No. 9 Hokies hang on - Daily PressLa favorita guida le nomination ai BAFTA - CineuropaCIA and Saudi Arabia Conspired to Keep 9/11 Details Secret, New Book Says - NewsweekWhat the CIA knew before 9/11: New details - PoliticoFormer CIA Director Joins Burisma, and It Is Good News - Huffington PostAnnual Shareholders' Meeting of Baltic International Bank Held - GlobeNewswireChili Bowl entry list reaches 300 and includes USAC, NASCAR and IndyCar stars - autoweek.comPrep football 2018: All-Bay Area News Group offensive team - The Mercury News

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