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Posts Tagged ‘Xe’

Panetta: “Not much choice’ but to use Blackwater

RAW STORY- By David Edwards and Daniel Tencer
Sunday, June 27th, 2010 — 12:33 pm

CIA director says ‘at most’ 50 to 100 Al Qaeda in Afghanistan

How can a company allegedly responsible for killing 17 unarmed civilians in Baghdad in 2007 continue to get State Department and CIA contracts? CIA Director Leon Panetta says there is “not much choice” because few companies have the capabilities of Blackwater.

“Since I have become director, I have asked our agency to review every contract we have had with Blackwater and whatever their new name is now — Xe — to ensure first and foremost that we have no contract in which they are engaged in any CIA operations. We’re doing our own operations. That’s important that we not contract that out to anybody,” Panetta told ABC’s Jake Tapper Sunday.

“But at the same time I have to tell you that in the war zone, we continue to have needs for security. You’ve got a lot of forward bases. You’ve got a lot of attacks on some of those bases. We’ve got to have security. Unfortunately, there are few companies that provide that kind of security,” Panetta continued.

“State Department relies on them. We rely on them to a certain extent. So, we’ve bid out some of those contracts. They provided a bid that underbid everyone else by about $26 million and a panel that we had said that they can do the job, that they’ve shaped up their act,” he said.

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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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Mercenaries, Robot Planes and the CIA Produce Lethal Mix for Secret Afghan War

By Tom Engelhardt and Nick Turse, Tomdispatch.com. Posted January 11, 2010.

In Afghanistan, a militarized mix of CIA operatives and ex-military mercenaries as well as native recruits and robot aircraft is fighting a war in the shadows.

It was a Christmas and New Year’s from hell for American intelligence, that $75 billion labyrinth of at least 16 major agencies and a handful of minor ones.  As the old year was preparing to be rung out, so were our intelligence agencies, which managed not to connect every obvious clue to a (literally) seat-of-the-pants al-Qaeda operation.  It hardly mattered that the underwear bomber’s case — except for the placement of the bomb material — almost exactly, even outrageously, replicated the infamous, and equally inept, “shoe bomber” plot of eight years ago.

That would have been bad enough, but the New Year brought worse.  Army Major General Michael Flynn, U.S. and NATO forces deputy chief of staff for intelligence in Afghanistan, released a report in which he labeled military intelligence in the war zone — but by implication U.S. intelligence operatives generally — “clueless.”  They were, he wrote, “ignorant of local economics and landowners, hazy about who the powerbrokers are and how they might be influenced… and disengaged from people in the best position to find answers… Eight years into the war in Afghanistan, the U.S. intelligence community is only marginally relevant to the overall strategy.”

As if to prove the general’s point, Humam Khalil Abu-Mulal al-Balawi, a Jordanian doctor with a penchant for writing inspirational essays on jihadi websites and an “unproven asset” for the CIA, somehow entered a key Agency forward operating base in Afghanistan unsearched, supposedly with information on al-Qaeda’s leadership so crucial that a high-level CIA team was assembled to hear it and Washington was alerted.  He proved to be either a double or a triple agent and killed seven CIA operatives, one of whom was the base chief, by detonating a suicide vest bomb, while wounding yet more, including the Agency’s number-two operative in the country.  The first suicide bomber to penetrate a U.S. base in Afghanistan, he blew a hole in the CIA’s relatively small cadre of agents knowledgeable on al-Qaeda and the Taliban.

It was an intelligence disaster splayed all over the headlines: “Taliban bomber wrecks CIA’s shadowy war,”  “Killings Rock Afghan Strategy,”  “Suicide bomber who attacked CIA post was trusted informant from Jordan.”  It seemed to sum up the hapless nature of America’s intelligence operations as the CIA, with all the latest technology and every imaginable resource on hand, including the latest in Hellfire missile-armed drone aircraft, was out-thought and out-maneuvered by low-tech enemies.

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Erik Prince quitting Blackwater to teach high school history and economics.

Think Progress- By Alex Seitz-Wald at 5:05 pm

Xe (formerly Blackwater) founder and CEO Erik Prince is cutting ties with the company. A spokeswoman for the company said today that Prince will relinquish involvement in its day-to-day operations and give up some of his ownership rights. The company has been shelling out $2 million a month in legal fees to cope with a slew of federal investigations and civil lawsuits stemming from, among other incidents, the “unprovoked and unjustified” killing of 17 Iraqi civilians. Prince told Vanity Fair that after years of serving his country, “someone threw me under the bus”:

Prince has become a scapegoat for some of the Bush administration’s misadventures in Iraq. … Congressmen and lawyers, human-rights groups and pundits, have described Prince as a war profiteer, one who has assembled a rogue fighting force capable of toppling governments. … “I put myself and my company at the C.I.A.’s disposal for some very risky missions. … But when it became politically expedient to do so, someone threw me under the bus. … I’m an easy target.”

Prince said he is instead “going to teach high school.” “History and economics,” he said. “I may even coach wrestling. Hey, Indiana Jones taught school, too.”

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Explosive Allegations: Blackwater Founder Implicated in Murder

By Jeremy Scahill, The Nation. Posted August 4, 2009.

Sworn statements filed in Federal Court also allege that Blackwater founder Erik Prince launched a “crusade” to eliminate Muslims and Islam.

A former Blackwater employee and an ex-U.S. 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 U.S. 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 U.S. State Department.

The former employee, identified in the court documents as “John Doe #2,” is a former member of Blackwater’s management team, according to a source close to the case. Doe #2 alleges in a sworn declaration that, based on information provided to him by former colleagues, “it appears that Mr. Prince and his employees murdered, or had murdered, one or more persons who have provided information, or who were planning to provide information, to the federal authorities about the ongoing criminal conduct.” John Doe #2 says he worked at Blackwater for four years; his identity is concealed in the sworn declaration because he “fear[s] violence against me in retaliation for submitting this Declaration.” He also alleges, “On several occasions after my departure from Mr. Prince’s employ, Mr. Prince’s management has personally threatened me with death and violence.”

In a separate sworn statement, the former U.S. marine who worked for Blackwater in Iraq alleges that he has “learned from my Blackwater colleagues and former colleagues that one or more persons who have provided information, or who were planning to provide information about Erik Prince and Blackwater have been killed in suspicious circumstances.” Identified as “John Doe #1,” he says he “joined Blackwater and deployed to Iraq to guard State Department and other American government personnel.” It is not clear if Doe #1 is still working with the company as he states he is “scheduled to deploy in the immediate future to Iraq.” Like Doe #2, he states that he fears “violence” against him for “submitting this Declaration.” No further details on the alleged murder(s) are provided.

“Mr. Prince feared, and continues to fear, that the federal authorities will detect and prosecute his various criminal deeds,” states Doe #2. “On more than one occasion, Mr. Prince and his top managers gave orders to destroy emails and other documents. Many incriminating videotapes, documents and emails have been shredded and destroyed.”

The Nation cannot independently verify the identities of the two individuals, their roles at Blackwater or what motivated them to provide sworn testimony in these civil cases. Both individuals state that they have previously cooperated with federal prosecutors conducting a criminal inquiry into Blackwater.

“It’s a pending investigation, so we cannot comment on any matters in front of a Grand Jury or if a Grand Jury even exists on these matters,” John Roth, the spokesperson for the U.S. Attorney’s office in the District of Columbia, told The Nation. “It would be a crime if we did that.” Asked specifically about whether there is a criminal investigation into Prince regarding the murder allegations and other charges, Roth said: “We would not be able to comment on what we are or are not doing in regards to any possible investigation involving an uncharged individual.”

Erik Prince fancies himself as a Christian crusader ridding the world of its Muslim population.
Apparently, Blackwater has been killing former employees who have shared information about this criminal enterprise.

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Mercenary King Erik Prince Resigns as Blackwater CEO

Jeremy Scahill

Posted March 2, 2009 | 12:34 PM (EST

Originally posted at AlterNet.

The company formerly known as Blackwater continues its mission to bury its tarnished reputation and soldier on. Early this morning, Blackwater founder Erik Prince released a brief statement announcing he is stepping down as CEO of the infamous mercenary firm he started in 1997. A press release from the company — which last month renamed itself “Xe” — said Prince “will now focus his efforts on a private equity venture unrelated to the company.”

In a personal message sent to his employees and clients, Prince sought to cast his departure as a natural part of the firm’s ongoing evolution. “As many of you know, because we focus on continually improving our business that Xe is in the process of a comprehensive restructuring,” he wrote. “It is with pride in our many accomplishments and confidence in Xe’s future that I announce my resignation as the company’s Chief Executive Officer.”

Prince’s resignation could be seen as a public formality in what has been a dramatic attempt to scrub all public vestiges of Blackwater, given that he remains chairman and sole owner of the network of companies now operating under the Xe umbrella. But it’s clear the firm has been thrown into turmoil in recent months. As the Xe statement says, “These appointments follow the addition and departures of several other key personnel. Recent departures from the company include its former Vice Chairman, Chief Operating Officer, President, and Executive Vice President.” Joseph Yorio, an ex-Army Special Forces officer and former Vice President of the international shipping company DHL was announced as the new Xe president — a somewhat humorous development, given Prince’s fondness for describing Blackwater as the “FedEx of the U.S. national security apparatus.” Meanwhile, Danielle Esposito, a longtime Blackwater employee, was named Xe’s new Chief Operating Officer and Executive Vice President.

The rebranding of Blackwater and its attempts to hide its former self have been downright crude. The company’s domestic training centers, which some refer to as private military bases, are now simply labeled “U.S. Training Center.” Gone is the sexy black-and-red logo featuring a bear paw in a sniper-scope; it has been replaced by a nondescript, rather amateurish sketch of an American Eagle. The company website has been revamped and scaled down.

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