Monday, April 20, 2009

Xe formerly known as Blackwater

Has stayed past its expiration date in Iraq:

WASHINGTON – Armed guards from the security firm once known as Blackwater Worldwide are still protecting U.S. diplomats in Iraq, even though the company has no license to operate there and has been told by the State Department its contracts will not be renewed two years after a lethal firefight that stirred outrage in Baghdad.

Private security guards employed by the company, now known as Xe, are slated to continue ground operations in parts of Iraq long into the summer, far longer than had previously been acknowledged, government officials told The Associated Press.

In addition, helicopters working for Xe's aviation wing, Presidential Airways, will provide air security for U.S. diplomatic convoys into September, almost two years after the Iraqi government first said it wanted the firm out.

The company's continued presence raises fresh questions about the strength of Iraq's sovereignty even as the Obama administration urges the budding government to take more responsibility for the nation's future.


Some of the same security personnel who worked for Blackwater might simply transfer to the new companies operating there, industry experts say.

"As Triple Canopy's work expands, the logical place to start looking and interviewing and evaluating employees will be those who are already there, those who have some skills and are already employed by Blackwater," said Alan Chvotkin, a senior vice president and counsel for the trade group Professional Services Council.

Xe, DynCorp and Triple Canopy are all members of the council.

Chvotkin added that in view of the controversies over Blackwater's role, "Triple Canopy and other security companies are making an independent assessment of any individual before deciding whether to hire them."

The Iraqi official also said that some former Blackwater officials could remain in Iraq, depending on their experience.

The transition from Blackwater to a new air security firm may be even more complicated. Chvotkin said it will not be easy to find a firm with Blackwater's air resources. Blackwater should not be ruled out as an option, he said.

"Since the nature of the work is so very different, there may actually be authority for them to operate the air services contract even though they don't have a license for private security," Chvotkin said.

Blackwater has been shifting its focus to other lines of business, including international training and air support in places like Afghanistan and Africa.


Wil Robinson said...

Wow. Had no idea.

So much for sovereignty.

ellroon said...

Google Blackwater and Erik Prince. You'll see a fundamentalist Christian who is a billionaire running a private army. Praetorian Guard anybody?