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Archive for the ‘blackwater’ Category

Blackwater Gets Into The Retail And Merchandising Game

TPM MUCKRAKER

Eric Lach | June 8, 2010, 11:56AM

Don’t know what gift to get for the paramilitary-enthusiast in your life? Look no further then the Blackwater proshop. That’s right, Blackwater, also known as Xe, also known as the private military contracting outfit at the center of a number of controversies in Iraq and Afghanistan, is getting into the retail game.

According to Wired, the company is opening up storefronts in Fayetteville, North Carolina and Salem, Connecticut, but if you can’t make it out there, you can always visit their online store.

Blackwater coffee mugs, beer-opener key chains, beach towels and shot glasses — you want ’em, they’ve got ’em.

For the teenage girl in your life, they’ve got some spiffy pink baseball caps with the company logo printed in on it.

You’ve got your pick of Blackwater-themed mouse pads. The “Rite Of Passage” one features a helicopter being shot at while flying through a canyon.

If you act fast, you can score one of these sweet Blackwater logo rings for just $850 — down from $985. They’re practically giving them away!

For more serious business, the store also sells custom-built assault rifles. The basic model starts at just $1,100, and can be customized with a number of top-of-the-line accessories. The Blackwater proshop: serving your apparel and weaponry needs under one roof.

(h/t Wired)

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Chris Hedges, TruthDig.com, May 3, 2010

We are approaching a decade of war in Afghanistan, and the war in Iraq is in its eighth year. Hundreds of thousands of Iraqis and thousands more Afghans and Pakistani civilians have been killed. Millions have been driven into squalid displacement and refugee camps. Thousands of our own soldiers and Marines have died or been crippled physically and psychologically. We sustain these wars, which have no real popular support, by borrowing trillions of dollars that can never be repaid, even as we close schools, states go into bankruptcy, social services are cut, our infrastructure crumbles, tens of millions of Americans are reduced to poverty, and real unemployment approaches 17 percent. Collective, suicidal inertia rolls us forward toward national insolvency and the collapse of empire. And we do not protest. The peace movement, despite the heroic efforts of a handful of groups such as Iraq Veterans Against the War, the Green Party and Code Pink, is dead. No one cares.

Continues >>


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Claim: Blackwater Billed US for ‘Morale Welfare Recreation’ Provided by Prostitute

Two former employees have accused Blackwater Worldwide of defrauding the government for years with phony billing, including charging for a prostitute, alcohol and spa trips.

February 11, 2010 |

The world’s oldest profession may have been subsidized by the US government during the war on terror.

“Two former employees of Blackwater Worldwide have accused the private security contractor of defrauding the government for years with phony billing, including charging for a prostitute, alcohol and spa trips,” Carol D. Leonnig reports for the Washington Post.

The article continues, “In newly unsealed court records, a husband and wife who once worked for Blackwater said they had personal knowledge of the company falsifying invoices, double-billing federal agencies and charging the government for personal and inappropriate items whose real purpose was hidden. They said they witnessed ‘systematic’ fraud on the company’s security contracts with the Department of State in Iraq and Afghanistan, and with the Department of Homeland Security and Federal Emergency Management Agency in Louisiana after Hurricane Katrina.”

Brad and Melan Davis worked in various Blackwater locations. Brad Davis, a former Marine, served as a team leader and security guard, including in Iraq. His wife, Melan Davis, worked as a finance and payroll employee, starting in Louisiana. They have filed their allegations that Blackwater defrauded the government as part of a false claims lawsuit, which allows the whistleblowers to win a portion of any public money that the government recovers as a result of the information. However, the Justice Department has chosen not to join them in pursuing their civil suit, a decision that led to the Davises’ claims being unsealed this week in a Virginia federal court.

The Davises assert that Blackwater officials kept a Filipino prostitute on the company payroll for a State Department contract in Afghanistan, and billed the government for her time working for Blackwater male employees in Kabul. The alleged prostitute’s salary was categorized as part of the company’s “Morale Welfare Recreation” expenses, they said.

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Blackwater, Now Xe, Vying For $1 Billion Contract To Train Afghan National Police

HuffPo-  First Posted: 02- 8-10 12:36 PM   |   Updated: 02- 8-10 03:17 PM

“Blackwater Worldwide’s legal woes haven’t dimmed the company’s prospects in Afghanistan, where it’s a contender to be a key part of President Barack Obama’s strategy for stabilizing the country,” the AP reported recently.

Now called Xe Services, the company is in the running for a Pentagon contract potentially worth $1 billion to train Afghanistan’s troubled national police force. Xe has been shifting to training, aviation and logistics work after its security guards were accused of killing unarmed Iraqi civilians more than two years ago.Yet even with a new name and focus, the expanded role would seem an unlikely one for Xe because Democrats have held such a negative opinion of the company following the Iraqi deaths, which are still reverberating in Baghdad and Washington.

During the presidential campaign, then-Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, now Obama’s secretary of state, backed legislation to ban Blackwater and other private security contractors from Iraq.

Xe eventually lost its license to operate as guardian of U.S. diplomats in Iraq and the State Department, with Clinton at the helm, elected not to rehire the company when the contract expired in 2009. Delays in getting a new company in place led to a temporary extension of the State contract.

Derrick Crowe of Rethink Afghanistan notes that Xe is in the running for this contract “despite the fact that they’ve ‘trained’ the notoriously corrupt and incompetent Afghan Border Police. Recently, two Blackwater / Xe trainers were indicted for murdering Afghan civilians, and the company has a history of hiring people with a criminal record. Xe Services / Blackwater is a liability to the American cause around the world and doesn’t deserve another dime of taxpayer money.”

Rethink Afghanistan has posted a new video on the topic featuring Afghanistan-based correspondent Anand Gopal.

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Baghdad's Nisour Square, where 17 Iraqis died in a shooting involving Blackwater Worldwide.

U.S. Examines Whether Blackwater Tried Bribery

The New York Times
Published: January 31, 2010

WASHINGTON — The Justice Department is investigating whether officials of Blackwater Worldwide tried to bribe Iraqi government officials in hopes of retaining the firm’s security work in Iraq after a deadly shooting episode in 2007, according to current and former government officials.

The officials said that the Justice Department’s fraud section opened the inquiry late last year to determine whether Blackwater employees violated a federal law banning American corporations from paying bribes to foreign officials.

The inquiry is the latest fallout from the shooting in Nisour Square in Baghdad, which left 17 Iraqis dead and stoked bitter resentment against the United States.

A federal judge in December dismissed criminal charges against five former Blackwater guards implicated in the episode, but Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. recently announced that the Obama administration would appeal that decision.

The investigation, which was confirmed by three current and former officials speaking on condition of anonymity, follows a report in The New York Times in November that top executives at Blackwater had authorized secret payments of about $1 million to Iraqi officials to buy their support after the shooting. The newspaper account said it could not determine whether any bribes were actually paid or identify Iraqi officials who might have received the money.

The Justice Department has obtained two documents from the State Department, which had security contracts with the company, that have raised questions about Blackwater’s efforts to influence Iraqi government officials after the Nisour Square shootings, according to two American officials familiar with the inquiry.

MORE HERE

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Interior Minister Claims ‘Conspiracy’ Behind Reports

by Jason Ditz, Antiwar.com, January 25, 2010

Despite a massive backlog of media reports and anonymous quotes from officials confirming Blackwater’s presence in Pakistan, the government still felt comfortable openly lying about it. This should perhaps somewhat dampen the shock today when, despite official confirmation from the US government, Pakistan’s government continued to stick to the lie.

Rehman Malik

Pakistan’s Interior Minister Rehman Malik today again insisted that there was “no evidence” Blackwater had ever been in the nation, and even claimed that US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, who publicly confirmed Blackwater’s presence, privately told Malik the quote was the result of a “conspiracy” by Pakistan’s media.

Continues >>

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Biden: US To Appeal Dismissal Of Blackwater Case

Huffington Post

MATT APUZZO | 01/23/10 09:10 PM | AP

BAGHDAD — The U.S. will appeal a court decision dismissing manslaughter charges against five Blackwater Worldwide guards involved in a deadly 2007 Baghdad shooting, U.S. Vice President Joe Biden said Saturday.

Biden’s announcement after a meeting with Iraqi President Jalal Talabani shows just how diplomatically sensitive the incident remains nearly three years later. A lawyer for one guard, noting that word of the intended appeal came in Iraq, accused the Obama administration of political expediency and said the U.S. was pursuing an innocent man, rather than justice.

Blackwater security contractors were guarding U.S. diplomats when the guards opened fire in Nisoor Square, a crowded Baghdad intersection, on Sept. 16, 2007. Seventeen people were killed, including women and children, in a shooting that inflamed anti-American sentiment in Iraq.

Biden expressed his “personal regret” for the shooting and said the Obama administration was disappointed by the dismissal. “A dismissal is not an acquittal,” he said.

The U.S. rebuffed Iraqi demands that the U.S. contractors face trial in Iraqi courts. After a lengthy investigation, U.S. prosecutors charged five of the contractors with manslaughter and took a guilty plea from a sixth.

MORE HERE

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