Meet Blackwater’s New Director: Bill Clinton’s Lawyer

Blackwater’s New Director: Bill Clinton’s Lawyer (Wired, July 6, 2011):

Blackwater’s rebranding continues at a torrid pace. Danger Room has learned the latest Washington greybeard hired to spruce up the image of the world’s most infamous private security firm is Jack Quinn, a top Washington lobbyist and former White House counsel to President Bill Clinton.

Now renamed Xe and owned by an investor consortium called USTC Holdings, the company is bringing Quinn — pictured left, with Rep. Joe Crowley — onto its board as an “independent director.” He’ll focus on “governance and oversight,” keeping the company out of trouble, especially with the government. USTC Holdings’ Jason DeYonker says that Quinn’s reputation for “commitment to the highest ethical standards of conduct in both the public and private sectors” makes him a great fit.

To be cynical about it, a man who gave legal advice to Clinton knows a whole lot about crisis management. Which is important, since Xe intends to keep providing security to U.S. diplomats in dangerous places – activities that, under its old leadership, led its guards into a shooting debacle that killed 17 Iraqi civilians in 2007.

Quinn is one of a string of board members and executives Xe brought on to draw a bright line between the old Blackwater and the new. All of them are powerful people, like ex-Attorney General John Ashcroft. Quinn’s lobbying clients include AT&T, old-folks association AARP and Visa.

Read moreMeet Blackwater’s New Director: Bill Clinton’s Lawyer

Blackwater Hired To Set Up A 800-Member Mercenary Battalion For The United Arab Emirates

May 16 (Reuters) — The crown prince of Abu Dhabi has hired the founder of the private security firm Blackwater Worldwide to set up an 800-member battalion of foreign troops for the United Arab Emirates, the New York Times reported Sunday.

The Times said it obtained documents that showed that the unit being formed by Erik Prince’s new company, Reflex Responses, with $529 million from the UAE would be used to thwart internal revolt, conduct special operations and defend oil pipelines and skyscrapers from attacks.

The newspaper said the UAE’s decision to hire the contingent of foreign troops was taken before a wave of popular unrest spread across the Arab world in recent months, including to neighboring Bahrain and Oman.

Read moreBlackwater Hired To Set Up A 800-Member Mercenary Battalion For The United Arab Emirates

Blackwater’s New Ethics Chief: John Ashcroft

The consortium in charge of restructuring the world’s most infamous private-security firm just added a new chief in charge of keeping the company on the straight and narrow. Yes, John Ashcroft, the former U.S. attorney general, is now an “independent director” of Xe Services, formerly known as Blackwater.

Ashcroft will head Xe’s new “subcommittee on governance,” its backers announced early Wednesday in a statement. The subcommittee is designed to “maximize governance, compliance and accountability” and “promote the highest degrees of ethics and professionalism within the private-security industry.”

In other words, no more shooting civilians in Iraq and Afghanistan, no more signing for weapons its guards aren’t authorized to carry in war zones, no more impersonations of cartoon characters to acquire said weaponry, and no more ‘roids and coke on the job.

Read moreBlackwater’s New Ethics Chief: John Ashcroft

Afghan President Karzai: Blackwater Behind Terrorism

See also:

US ‘concerned’ about Iran influence in Afghanistan (Telegraph):

The White House said on Monday the world has “every reason to be concerned” about Iranian influence in Afghanistan, after President Hamid Karzai admitted receiving bags of money from Tehran.

Flashback:

Former UK ambassador Craig Murray (The Raw Story):

Murray alleged that in the late 1990s the Uzbek ambassador to the US met with then-Texas Governor George W. Bush to discuss a pipeline for the region, and out of that meeting came agreements that would see Texas-based Enron gain the rights to Uzbekistan’s natural gas deposits, while oil company Unocal worked on developing the Trans-Afghanistan pipeline.

“The consultant who was organizing this for Unocal was a certain Mr. Karzai, who is now president of Afghanistan,” Murray noted.

“There are designs of this pipeline, and if you look at the deployment of US forces in Afghanistan, as against other NATO country forces in Afghanistan, you’ll see that undoubtedly the US forces are positioned to guard the pipeline route. It’s what it’s about. It’s about money, it’s about oil, it’s not about democracy.”



Karzai: Blackwater behind terrorism

Afghan President Hamid Karzai has said US private security firms, including Xe Services LLC, formerly known as Blackwater, are being behind terrorism in the country.

At a press conference in Kabul, Karzai said that US security companies have been behind explosions that have claimed the lives of women and children.

The Afghan president added that they have caused “blasts and terrorism” in different parts of Afghanistan over the past months.

The Afghan president said his administration cannot even distinguish between the bomb blasts carried out by US security firms and those of the Taliban militants.

“In fact we don’t yet know how many of these blasts are by Taliban and how many are carried out by them (US security companies).”

Blackwater has been involved in the murder of several Afghan citizens over the past years. The company has also been struggling with a trail of legal cases and civil lawsuits, including one for killing 17 Iraqi civilians during a Baghdad shootout in 2007.

Earlier in June, the CIA reportedly admitted that Blackwater had been loading bombs on US drones that target suspected militants in neighboring Pakistan.

Read moreAfghan President Karzai: Blackwater Behind Terrorism

Blackwater Wins Piece of $10 Billion Mercenary Deal

Never mind the dead civilians. Forget about the stolen guns. Get over the murder arrests, the fraud allegations, and the accusations of guards pumping themselves up with steroids and cocaine. Through a “joint venture,” the notorious private-security firm Blackwater has won a piece of a five-year State Department contract worth up to $10 billion, Danger Room has learned.

Apparently, there is no misdeed so big that it can keep guns-for-hire from working for the government. And this is despite a 2008 campaign pledge from Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to ban the company from federal contracts.

Eight private security firms have won State’s giant Worldwide Protective Services contract, the big Foggy Bottom partnership to keep embassies and their inhabitants safe. Two of those firms are longtime State contract holders DynCorp and Triple Canopy. The others are newcomers to the big security contract: EOD Technology, SOC, Aegis Defense Services, Global Strategies Group, Torres International Services and International Development Solutions LLC.

Don’t see any of Blackwater’s myriad business names on there? That’s apparently by design.

Blackwater and the State Department tried their best to obscure their renewed relationship. As Danger Room reported Wednesday, Blackwater did not appear on the vendors’ list for Worldwide Protective Services. And the State Department confirms that the company, renamed Xe Services, didn’t actually submit its own independent bid.

Instead, they used a blandly named cut-out, “International Development Solutions,” to retain a toehold into State’s lucrative security business. No one who looks at the official announcement of the contract award would have any idea that firm is connected to Blackwater.

Read moreBlackwater Wins Piece of $10 Billion Mercenary Deal

Web Of Blackwater (Xe) Companies Revealed

blackwater-now-xe

Blackwater Worldwide created a web of more than 30 shell companies or subsidiaries in part to obtain millions of dollars in American government contracts after the security company came under intense criticism for reckless conduct in Iraq, according to Congressional investigators and former Blackwater officials.

While it is not clear how many of those businesses won contracts, at least three had deals with the United States military or the Central Intelligence Agency, according to former government and company officials. Since 2001, the intelligence agency has awarded up to $600 million in classified contracts to Blackwater and its affiliates, according to a United States government official.

The Senate Armed Services Committee this week released a chart that identified 31 affiliates of Blackwater, now known as Xe Services. The network was disclosed as part of a committee’s investigation into government contracting. The investigation revealed the lengths to which Blackwater went to continue winning contracts after Blackwater guards killed 17 Iraqi civilians in Baghdad in September 2007. That episode and other reports of abuses led to criminal and Congressional investigations, and cost the company its lucrative security contract with the State Department in Iraq.

Read moreWeb Of Blackwater (Xe) Companies Revealed

Secret tape of Blackwater founder Erik Prince exposed

Erik Prince
Erik Prince

Erik Prince, the founder of Blackwater, the American private security organisation, has claimed that his employees have called in airstrikes in Afghanistan.

He also mocked Afghan military recruits for needing lessons in how to use a toilet, and questioned the value and quality of other countries’ troops in the country.

In a speech in January at the University of Michigan which was secretly recorded, he questioned the will to fight of many Nato troops in Afghanistan, saying that “a lot of them should just pack it in and go home”.

Blackwater, now renamed Xe Services, has been a lightning rod for controversy surrounding America’s use of private contractors in war zones since its personnel killed 17 unarmed Iraqi civilians in a Baghdad square in 2007.

Read moreSecret tape of Blackwater founder Erik Prince exposed

Blackwater Guards Stole Hundreds Of Weapons In Kabul And Went On Deadly Rampage

More than 500 AK47 rifles had been removed from the bunker by Blackwater staff without permission.

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Private American security guards working for the US military in Afghanistan removed hundreds of handguns and automatic weapons from stores intended for the exclusive use of the Afghan police and used them on drunken shooting rampages that killed two Afghan civilians and injured at least two more.

The guards included a former US Marine with a criminal record of assault and battery and a former soldier discharged from the US Army after testing positive for cocaine, Congress heard yesterday.

Justin Cannon, Christopher Drotleff and a guard using the name “Eric Cartman” from the cartoon South Park were employees of a subsidiary of the Blackwater Worldwide group, implicated in a litany of extrajudicial shootings since 2003 in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Cannon and Drotleff have been charged with killing two Afghans and injuring a third in an incident last May when they opened fire on a car carrying four civilians in Kabul, while under the influence of alcohol. The men, who were hired to train Afghan soldiers, had no permission from US authorities to carry guns.

Read moreBlackwater Guards Stole Hundreds Of Weapons In Kabul And Went On Deadly Rampage

Iraqi government orders Blackwater security guards to leave the country

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Iraqi officials have ordered 250 Blackwater security guards to leave the country within a week.

The Interior Ministry says both current and former employees of the firm, were told of their expulsion a few days ago. It comes after a U.S. judge dismissed the manslaughter charges against 5 members of the company, in connection with the killing of 17 Iraqi civilians in 2007.

Blackwater, which is now called ‘Xe Services’, was one of three private U.S. security contractors hired to protect diplomats in Iraq.

Pentagon backtracks after Defense Secretary Robert Gates ‘admits’ Blackwater operating in Pakistan

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Defense Secretary Robert Gates

The Pentagon has gone into damage control mode after Defense Secretary Robert Gates appeared to confirm that security contractor Blackwater is operating in Pakistan.

The admission, quickly denied by Defense Department officials, has set fire to long-simmering rumors inside Pakistan about the involvement of for-profit contractors in the war against the Taliban.

Defense Department officials say Gates did not mean to suggest that Blackwater is now operating on Pakistani soil when a journalist from Pakistan’s Express TV asked him about military contractors’ activities.

In the interview, which took place Thursday, Gates was asked “about another issue that has come up and again … about the phone security companies [sic] that have been operating in Iraq, in Afghanistan and now in Pakistan. Xe International, formerly known as Blackwater or Data Corp. Under what rules are they operating here in Pakistan?”

“Well, they’re operating as individual companies here in Pakistan, in Afghanistan and in Iraq,” Gates replied. “If they’re contracting with us or with the State Department here in Pakistan, then there are very clear rules set forth by the State Department and by ourselves.”

“This appears to be a contradiction of previous statements made by the Defense Department, by Blackwater, by the Pakistani government and by the US embassy in Islamabad, all of whom claimed Blackwater was not in the country,” investigative reporter Jeremy Scahill wrote.

In November, Scahill reported that Blackwater is operating out of a covert US operating base in Karachi, where it “plan[s] targeted assassinations of suspected Taliban and Al Qaeda operatives, ‘snatch and grabs’ of high-value targets and other sensitive action inside and outside Pakistan.”

In December, the UK’s Guardian reported that Blackwater guards are patrolling a CIA airbase in Baluchistan province.

Gates’ comments have sent Pakistan’s legislature into an uproar, with at least one government official denying knowledge of Gates’ remarks.

Pakistan has been rife with rumors in recent years about private security contractors operating on the country’s soil, and “about purported US plots to seize Pakistan’s nuclear weapons and build permanent American military bases,” as the Wall Street Journal puts it.

Read morePentagon backtracks after Defense Secretary Robert Gates ‘admits’ Blackwater operating in Pakistan