By Amy D. Farnsworth, Globe correspondent
Mitt Romney today tapped a former CIA official, who is now a top officer in a private security firm with widespread operations in Iraq, to head his counterterrorism policy advisory group.
Cofer Black, who also served as a top State Department counter-terrorism official, is now chairman of Total Intelligence Solutions and vice-chairman of Blackwater USA. That firm came to public attention in 2004, when four employees were ambushed, killed, and mutilated in Fallujah.
"The United States faces a new generation of global threats and challenges," Black said in a statement issued by the Romney campaign. "Governor Romney recognizes the threats before us and has already laid out the policies needed to give our men and women the tools they need to protect our country."
Others who will advise Romney on counterterrorism include businesspeople, a former military officer, former FBI officials, and former Foreign Service officials.
Representative Pete Hoekstra of Michigan will lead Romney's intelligence policy advisory group, the campaign said. Hoekstra is the senior Republican on the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence.
Last year, Hoekstra criticized President Bush for not informing Congress about what he described as a major intelligence program, though he didn't identify it because it was classified.
"Governor Romney understands that a President must focus on both current and emerging threats to our nation and that an agile and aggressive intelligence community provides America's first line of defense against those threats," he said in a statement.
"We have made progress in securing our homeland since 9/11, but we still have much work to do," Romney said in a statement. "Critical to our security is effective intelligence-gathering and counter-terror efforts that can prevent further attacks. The individuals in these groups have had distinguished careers in our intelligence and counter-terror communities. I look forward to working with them to ensure that our government has the tools necessary to maintain America's security."
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Glen Johnson is Politics Editor at boston.com and lead blogger for "Political Intelligence." He moved to Massachusetts in the fourth grade, and has covered local, state, and national politics for over 25 years. E-mail him at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @globeglen.