Blackwater to change name to ‘Xe’

Blackwater Merc's patrolling streets of N.O.

Blackwater Merc's patrolling streets of N.O.

via Raw Story

Blackwater Worldwide is abandoning its tarnished brand name as it tries to shake a reputation battered by oft-criticized work in Iraq, renaming its family of two dozen businesses under the name Xe.

The parent company’s new name is pronounced like the letter “z.” Blackwater Lodge & Training Center — the subsidiary that conducts much of the company’s overseas operations and domestic training — has been renamed U.S. Training Center Inc., the company said Friday.

The decision comes as part of an ongoing rebranding effort that grew more urgent following a September 2007 shooting in Iraq that left at least a dozen civilians dead. Blackwater president Gary Jackson said in a memo to employees the new name reflects the change in company focus away from the business of providing private security.

“The volume of changes over the past half-year have taken the company to an exciting place and we are now ready for two of the final, and most obvious changes,” Jackson said in the note.

In his memo, Jackson indicated the company was not interested in actively pursuing new private security contracts. Jackson and other Blackwater executives told The Associated Press last year it was shifting its focus away from such work to focus on training and providing logistics. Continue reading

Blackwater Mercs Likely to Stay in Iraq, Despite Gov’t Ban

bagdad_2

via WIRED

Iraq’s government says it won’t give Blackwater a license to operate in the country. So does that mean the firm’s cadre of tattooed gunslingers will be gone from Iraq, forever? Not exactly.

Sure, Blackwater as a corporate entity probably won’t be roaming the streets of Baghdad or Mosul for much longer. But the individual mercenaries who’ve been working for years in Iraq, serving as a Praetorian Guard for the State Department’s diplomats — those guys likely will be able to stay.

The State Department has a contract for “worldwide personal protective services” with three firms: Blackwater, DynCorp, and Triple Canopy. If Blackwater is no longer allowed to operate in Iraq, a lawyer steeped in the field tells Danger Room, there’s no legal reason why the other two firms can’t scoop up Blackwater’s employees. “State simply issues a new task order to DynCorp or Triple Canopy, who turn around and hire some or all of Blackwater’s employees,” he says.

Which could prove to be more than a little problematic. More than any other private military firm in Iraq, Blackwater had a reputation for recklessness and violence. Think about the drunken Blackwater contractor, who killed a bodyguard of Iraq’s vice president on Christmas Eve, 2007. Or the car full of people a Blackwater detail ran off the road, in September 2006. Or the Nisour Square shooting that left 17 dead, in September 2007. “If you think Blackwater culture is to blame, this [loophole] kind of confounds that,” the lawyer observes. Continue reading