The shadowy private intelligence firm subcontracted by the Defense Department that provided information on kidnapped soldier Bowe Bergdahl was partnered with another obscure outfit that provided security at the attacked U.S. special mission in Libya.
FoxNews.com reported Friday the Eclipse Group, run by former intelligence operatives, provided the military with intelligence that Bergdahl converted to Islam, declared he was a “mujahid,” or Islamic warrior, and at certain times was allowed by his captors to carry a gun.
Eclipse is headed by Duane R. “Dewey” Clarridge, a former senior CIA operations officer known for his role in the so-called Iran-Contra Affair, where senior U.S. administration officials secretly helped to facilitate the sale of arms to Iran despite an embargo. Clarridge was charged with seven counts of perjury and false statements to Congress but was pardoned by President George H.W. Bush in 1992.
A 2011 New York Times article first disclosed that in 2009, another security firm affiliated with Clarridge, the American International Security Corporation, received a Pentagon contract for about $6 million to provide “atmospheric information.” It was that firm that reportedly subcontracted Clarridge’s Eclipse.
The Times reported that from 2009 to 2010, Clarridge provided intelligence on possible anti-U.S. attacks in Afghanistan, Taliban leadership meetings in Pakistan and even an in-depth report on the Taliban-aligned Haqqani network, which was holding Bergdahl.
The Times reported that while the information could not be corroborated, Clarridge “used back channels to pass it on to senior Obama administration officials, including Dennis C. Blair, then the director of national intelligence.”
FoxNews.com reported that during the period of his subcontracted work, from November 2009 through May 31, 2010, Eclipse provided extensive information on Bergdahl, including at least 13 situation reports, to Brig. Gen. Robert P. Ashley Jr., who in April 2010 was named an intelligence director at U.S. Central Command, or CENTCOM.
One report said a member of the Haqqani network claimed Bergdahl had declared himself a “mujahid.” Another report detailed Bergdahl’s possible whereabouts and revealed the soldier was playing soccer with his captors.
Still another report said Bergdahl temporarily escaped from his captures only to be recaptured and punished with confinement in a metal cage.
Eclipse, meanwhile, is tied to the obscure Blue Mountain firm that was contracted by the State Department to provide external security at the U.S. special mission attacked on Sept. 11, 2012.
Blue Mountain was reportedly one of the only private firms willing to meet the State Department’s unusual requirement that the Benghazi compound be “protected” by unarmed local Libyan guards instead of armed, well-trained guards in the known major jihadist threat environment in Benghazi.
In October 2012, Reuters reported the State Department’s Benghazi security contract was worth $783,284 and was listed as a “miscellaneous” award, instead of being included in the main State Department contract that funds security at overseas compounds.
For Blue Mountain to legally work in Libya and meet Libyan regulations, it had to first form a business partnership with a local security firm.
A December 2011 United Press International report said Blue Mountain joined forces one month earlier with Clarridge’s Eclipse Group.
Reuters reported Eclipse and Blue Mountain parted ways in the spring of 2012 over problems with Tripoli contracts, according to several sources familiar with the matter speaking to the news agency.
With research by Brenda J. Elliott.