Category Archives: Blackwater

Judge Dismisses Shooting Case Against Blackwater

A federal judge dismissed charges against five Blackwater Worldwide security guards accused of killing 14 Iraqi civilians in a controversial shooting in a busy Baghdad square two years ago in a ruling that sharply criticized the tactics of Justice Department prosecutors handling the case.

The judge, Ricardo M. Urbina of the District’s federal court, found that prosecutors and agents had improperly used statements that the guards provided to the State Department in the hours and days after the shooting. The statements had been given with the understanding that they would not be used against the guards in court, the judge found, and federal prosecutors should not have used them to help guide their investigation. Urbina said other Justice Department lawyers had warned the prosecutors to tread carefully around the incriminating statements.

The five Blackwater guards — a sixth has pleaded guilty — were indicted in December 2008 on manslaughter and weapons charges accusing them of killing and injuring unarmed civilians.

Federal prosecutors have said the guards killed 14 Iraqis and wounded 20 in an unprovoked blaze of bullets and grenade explosions. The guards’ attorneys have said their clients fired in self-defense after being shot at by insurgents.

The incident, which badly strained U.S.-Iraqi relations, was the most serious one involving private security contractors in recent years, and it raised questions about using such guards in war zones. It so badly stigmatized Blackwater that the company renamed itself Xe Services.

For the full story click HERE.

Private Security Remains in Afghanistan

Afghan President Hamid Karzai has abandoned plans to scrap private security firms in the country by mid-December, the interior ministry says.

Fifty-four private security firms have been dissolved in recent weeks in a drive to clamp down on the industry.

But interior ministry officials said most of the 52 mainly Afghan firms remaining would retain their licences.

Private security firms provide guards at everything from diplomatic missions, aid agencies and supply convoys.

…In August, President Karzai gave private security companies four months to end operations in Afghanistan following concerns that some contractors empowered warlords and power brokers operating outside government control.

But recently aides to the president have advised him that the move to disband the network completely was ill-advised, as the security forces could not fill the gap.

“Their future operations will continue in accordance with the law and regulations in place,” an interior minister told a news conference in Kabul.

He said some of the 52 firms still operating remained under criminal investigation and could face closure; a list of banned companies would be announced on 17 December.

Mr Farahi said that those which remained would have to follow tighter rules. They would have to wear uniforms and would not be allowed to stop vehicles or block roads for security reasons.

For the full story, click HERE.

See previous:  Ban for Afghan Private Security Contractors

SO first the crackdown, and then the reshuffle.  It will be interesting to see how this continues to play out both through official and back channels.  ~ES

Blackwater Founder Relocates to Middle East

Erik Prince owner of Blackwater (now Xe) has reportedly left the United States to relocate to The Abu Dahubi.  Prince, left the country after a string of civil lawsuits, criminal charges and Congressional investigations singled out Blackwater or its former executives and other personnel.  While fighting these, his enterprises have amassed hundreds of millions of dollars in contracts, mostly relating to the war on terror.   Current and former colleagues said Mr. Prince hoped to focus on security work from governments in Africa and the Middle East. They also said he was bitter about the legal scrutiny and negative publicity his company had received.

For the full story, click HERE.

See Related:  CIA Awards Blackwater 100 Million to Protect

See Related:  Blackwater Receives Afghan Contract

See Related:  Former Blackwater President Indicted

So what’s your take on this.  Is Mr. Prince on the run or just implementing a new strategy?

CIA Awards Blackwater 100 Million to Protect

The Central Intelligence Agency has retained Xe (Blackwater) to provide security services in Afghanistan, the agency’s director confirmed.

CIA Director Leon Panetta, appearing on ABC News’s “This Week” on Sunday, said the agency had awarded Xe Services LLC a contract to protect its installations in Afghanistan. The contract, reported by the Washington Post to be worth $100 million, is in addition to a separate contract Xe has with the State Department to protect U.S. officials in the country.

In short: Meet the new boss.  Same as the old boss.

Full Story: CIA Hires Blackwater

See related:  Blackwater Receives Afghan Contract

Blackwater Receives Afghan Contract

Mr. Prince strikes again.  This guy, plays chess not checkers at the grandmaster level.

CNN Reports:

Blackwater (Xe) security company has been awarded a contract to provide protection to U.S. consulates and diplomats in the Afghan cities of Herat and Mazar-e Sharif, a U.S. State Department official confirmed on Saturday.

The Highlights:

The deal is a one-year contract with an option to extend up to 18 months. If the contract is fulfilled for that entire period, it would be more than $120 million.

The Big Question:

The State Department official, insisting on anonymity, said past history with Blackwater did not prevent U.S. Training Center from bidding on contracts and that in this case the company was the best qualified for the work in Afghanistan.

For the full story, click HERE.

Wait, wasn’t it just reported that the company was up for sale?

See related- Blackwater For Sale?

Blackwater For Sale?

After years as the heavyweight in private security contracting, sounds like Xe,( aka the infamous Blackwater)  is going up for sale.  From what I know of the company owner Erik Prince, he’s always working the next plan.  It’ll be interesting to see what form it takes.

After nearly a decade of working overtly and covertly for the US government across the globe, Blackwater is apparently for sale. The company made the announcement in a brief statement Monday followed by an even briefer statement from the company’s owner, Erik Prince. “Performance doesn’t matter in Washington, just politics,” Prince said.In announcing Blackwater was for sale, the company stated Monday: “Xe’s new management team has made significant changes and improvements to the company over the last 15 months, which have enabled the company to better serve the US government and other customers, and will deliver additional value to a purchaser.”

Click on the link for the full story.

Former Blackwater President Indicted

RALEIGH, North Carolina (AP) — The former president of Blackwater Worldwide was charged Friday with using straw purchases to stockpile automatic weapons at the security firm and filing false documents to cover up gifts given to the King of Jordan.The federal indictment charges Gary Jackson, 52, who left the company last year in a management shakeup, along with four other former workers. The charges against Jackson include a conspiracy to violate firearms laws, false statements and possession of an unregistered firearm.

 Also indicted were former general counsel Andrew Howell, 44; former executive vice president Bill Mathews, 44; former procurement vice president Ana Bundy, 45; and, 65-year-old Ronald Slezak, a former weapons manager.

 The charges open a new front of the government’s oversight of the sullied security company. Several of the company’s contractors have previously been charged with federal crimes for their actions in war zones, but the company’s executives have so far weathered a range of investigations.

~ While there is no doubt these guys have had a successful business for quite a long time.  But if your one that believes in karma, the dark cloud that follows them must be massive.  For the full story click HERE.

Private Security Increases in Iraq, Afghanistan

Defense Department officials now say that more than 18,000 armed security contractors are working in Iraq or Afghanistan under Pentagon auspices, according to a new report by the Congressional Research Service that was obtained by NPR. They have also started hiring security for an event that the contractors will be at. The bulk of the gun-toting contractors — some 13,232 as of June 30 — are in Iraq, where they guard U.S. bases, defend convoys and serve as personal bodyguards for high-level officials. The remaining 5,165 armed civilians perform similar functions in Afghanistan.

Click HERE

Related:  My interview with Portfolio Magazine on the World of Private Security

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XjV1tEr0B7Q[/youtube]

Blackwater Founder Implicated in Murder?

The Nation.com is reporting in an article written by Jermey Scahill

“A former Blackwater employee and an ex-US Marine who has worked as a security operative for the company have made a series of explosive allegations in sworn statements filed on August 3 in federal court in Virginia. The two men claim that the company’s owner, Erik Prince, may have murdered or facilitated the murder of individuals who were cooperating with federal authorities investigating the company. The former employee also alleges that Prince “views himself as a Christian crusader tasked with eliminating Muslims and the Islamic faith from the globe,” and that Prince’s companies “encouraged and rewarded the destruction of Iraqi life.”

In their testimony, both men also allege that Blackwater was smuggling weapons into Iraq. One of the men alleges that Prince turned a profit by transporting “illegal” or “unlawful” weapons into the country on Prince’s private planes. They also charge that Prince and other Blackwater executives destroyed incriminating videos, emails and other documents and have intentionally deceived the US State Department and other federal agencies. The identities of the two individuals were sealed out of concerns for their safety.

These allegations, and a series of other charges, are contained in sworn affidavits, given under penalty of perjury, filed late at night on August 3 in the Eastern District of Virginia as part of a seventy-page motion by lawyers for Iraqi civilians suing Blackwater for alleged war crimes and other misconduct. Susan Burke, a private attorney working in conjunction with the Center for Constitutional Rights, is suing Blackwater in five separate civil cases filed in the Washington, DC, area. They were recently consolidated before Judge T.S. Ellis III of the Eastern District of Virginia for pretrial motions. Burke filed the August 3 motion in response to Blackwater’s motion to dismiss the case. Blackwater asserts that Prince and the company are innocent of any wrongdoing and that they were professionally performing their duties on behalf of their employer, the US State Department.”

For the full story click HERE.

Powerful and potentially damaging allegations.  It will be intersting to see how this plays out.  (Thank you Kerry for bring the story to my attention.)

Two Xe (Blackwater) Agents killed in Iraq

blackwaterhelicopter2005

“A helicopter from private military contractor Xe crashed outside Baghdad on Friday, killing two crew members and leaving two other injured, a company spokeswoman said.

The MD-530 “Little Bird” went down Friday morning at Butler Range, a training facility outside Baghdad, said Stacy Capace, a spokeswoman for the company formerly known as Blackwater.

An investigation into the crash is under way, and it was not known whether there was any hostile fire in the area at the time”.  

Condolences to the families of the Private Security Contractor’s lost and a speedy recovery to the injured.  

For the full story, click HERE

 

Source: TF