Blackwater’s Cofer Black stays in the shadows

By Laurie Bennett

October 17, 2007 at 7:02am

While CEO Erik Prince has been the public face of Blackwater USA during recent weeks of intense government and media scrutiny, the often outspoken Cofer Black, company vice chairman, has kept out of the limelight.

Black, one of the nation's eminent authorities on combatting terrorism, is deeply involved in the network of Blackwater-related companies. He also serves as chairman of Total Intelligence Solutions and is CEO of Black Group, LLC.

With more than 30 years of service in the Central Intelligence Agency, Black is known as a superspy. He helped catch the international terrorist Ilich Ramirez Sanchez, better known as "Carlos the Jackal" and in 1999, was named head of the CIA's Counter-Terrorism Center.

That role put him in the hot seat on Sept. 11, 2001. Black would later tell the 9/11 Commission that he had lacked the resources to effectively combat the wordwide terrorist threat.

An August 2007 report by the CIA's inspector general said bureaucratic breakdowns at the agency enabled the 9-11 hijackers to evade authorities and complete the attacks. The report criticized Black by title, but not by name.

Black left the State Department in November 2004. Three months later, he joined Blackwater.

He also serves as senior adviser for counterterrorism and national security issues with the Mitt Romney presidential campaign. Romney declined to comment about Blackwater after company guards shot and killed at least 11 Iraq civilians in September.

Although Black brings a wealth of experience and connections to Blackwater, his persona evidently does not match the image that the company is now trying to project.

Prince is young and clean-cut, while Black is middle-aged, jowly and gray. Prince, a former Navy SEAL, has a ramrod military bearing. Black is a rather frumpy bureaucrat.

After seeking advice from public relations experts at Burson-Marsteller, Prince provided cool, professional testimony to the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. He did a media blitz that included interviews with 60 Minutes, Wolf Blitzer, Charlie Rose and Newsweek.

Black's most publicized appearance in recent weeks was a speech at the Texas Tech International Cultural Center in Lubbock, Texas.

"As you know, my company as been in the news a little bit," he said then, according to a report in the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal.

Black, on the other hand, seems to be doing his best to stay out of the news.

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