Apr 17

- Blackwater Guards Finally to be Tried for Killing 14 Iraqi Civilians (AllGov, April 13, 2014):

One of the darkest episodes during the U.S. occupation of Iraq last decade is finally resulting in the prosecution of private American security guards who killed more than a dozen Iraqi civilians in a single incident.

The name Blackwater became famous after the 2007 event in which guards from the security firm’s Raven 23 unit opened fire in Baghdad’s Nisour Square on September 16. The shootings, which the Iraqi government said were unprovoked, killed 14 people and wounded 20 others.

The guards claimed they came under attack from insurgents while carrying out their duties for the State Department’s Diplomatic Security Service (DSS), which had hired the firm that has since undergone multiple name changes (Blackwater Worldwide, then Xe Services, now Academi).

Continue reading »

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Apr 08

- The ‘Crackdown’ Begins: Ukraine Launches “Anti-Terrorist” Operations In Eastern Ukraine, Arrests 70 (ZeroHedge, April 8, 2014):

Despite Russia’s veiled threat that any ongoing action against pro-Russian demonstrators had the potential to instigate civil war and bring action by the Russian forces, Ukraine’s interior minister Arsen Avakov has announced, Reuters reports, that Ukraine has launched an “anti-terrorist” operation in the eastern city of Kharkiv and about 70 “separatists” have been arrested for seizing the regional administration building. Is this the red-line that Putin laid down last night?

As Russia made clear last night, as ITAR-TASS reports, Continue reading »

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Apr 08

Greystone is a subsidiary of Blackwater (= Xe = Academi).

Related info:

- Ukrainian Authorities To Tame Eastern Regions With Mercenaries From Blackwater Subsidiary

Flashback:

- Blackwater’s Black Ops (The Nation, Oct 4, 2010, by Jeremy Scahill):

One of the most incendiary details in the documents is that Blackwater, through Total Intelligence, sought to become the “intel arm” of Monsanto, offering to provide operatives to infiltrate activist groups organizing against the multinational biotech firm.


GREYSTONE

- Russia Accuses US Mercenaries Of Inciting Civil War In Ukraine (ZeroHedge, April 7, 2014):

In response to claims by the Ukraine government (and the west) that Russia provoking trouble in Eastern Europe – with The White House’s Jary Carney even suggesting that pro-Russia demonstrators were paid – Russia’s foreign ministry has responded. Posting via their Facebook page, Russia urged Ukraine to halt any interior military preparations which could instigate a civil war. But the kicker, for which we anxiously await a rebuttal, is Russia’s comment that they “are particularly concerned that the operation involves some 150 American mercenaries.”

The US administration perspective… (via WaPo)

In Washington, the Obama administration expressed deep skepticism that the scattered uprisings and building takeovers in cities such as Donetsk and Kharkiv have been spontaneous. “There is strong evidence suggesting some of these demonstrators were paid,” said Jay Carney, the White House spokesman.

If Russia moves into eastern Ukraine, either overtly or covertly, this would be a very serious escalation,” Carney said.

The Ukrainian perspective… Continue reading »

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Mar 26

Blackwater, then Xe and now Academi.

Greystone is a subsidiary of Blackwater.


- Ukrainian authorities to tame Eastern regions with aid of private military company (ITAR-TASS, March 25, 2014):

Dnepropetrovsk, March 25. /ITAR-TASS/. An overseas private military company will engages in the suppressing of protest moods of the mostly Russian-speaking population in the East of Ukraine, a source at the Security Service of Ukraine said Monday

“The case in hand is Greystone Ltd. company,” he said.

Continue reading »

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Dec 14

- Once called Blackwater, firm changes name (Sydney Morning Herald/AFP, Dec. 13, 2011):

The US security firm formerly known as Blackwater, which was barred from Iraq over a deadly 2007 shooting, has renamed itself a second time.

USTC Holdings, the investor consortium that acquired ex-Blackwater firm Xe Services in December 2010, announced ACADEMI as the new name and brand for Xe Services.

The rebranding came as President Barack Obama met with Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki on Monday, marking America’s exit from a war launched to oust Saddam Hussein.

“We have had a year of extraordinary changes that have resulted in a new, better company,” ACADEMI president and chief executive Ted Wright said in a statement.

“I know that everyone at ACADEMI shares in this commitment to promote the highest standards of ethical conduct, compliance and integrity in all of our activities.

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Jul 12

- 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.

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May 16

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.

Continue reading »

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May 06

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.

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Oct 27

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.

Continue reading »

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Oct 03

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.

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Sep 06

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.

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May 05

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. Continue reading »

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Feb 25

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

blackwater-now-xe

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. Continue reading »

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Feb 13

blackwater-now-xe

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.

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Jan 23

defense-secretary-robert-gates
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. Continue reading »

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Jan 01

Justice you can believe in!

Related articles:

- Exposed: American Police Force (AFP) Is A Blackwater Front Group

- US: American Police Force (AFP) is taking over towns

- Why Is President Obama Still Using Blackwater?

- CIA hired Blackwater mercenaries to try to hit al-Qaeda

- “Incestuous” relationships between Blackwater and the US government

- Blackwater got a new $22.2 million deal from the State Department

- Blackwater security guards to be charged over mass shooting in Iraq

- Blackwater is building up its own Air Force

- ATF raids Blackwater armory, seizes automatic weapons

- Controversy: Mercenaries Training US Local Police Officers

- Blackwater…peacekeeping mercenaries


blackwater_worldwide_charges_dismissed
Blackwater Worldwide security guard Nick Slatten (C) leaves the federal courthouse after being arraigned with 4 fellow Blackwater guards on manslaughter charges for allegedly killing 14 unarmed civilians and wounding 20 others in a 2007 shooting in Baghdad.

BAGHDAD (Reuters) – Iraq expressed its disappointment on Friday with a U.S. federal court ruling that threw out all charges against five Blackwater Worldwide security guards accused of gunning down Iraqi civilians in 2007.

Government spokesman Ali al-Dabbagh said the five men had committed a “serious crime” in the September 2007 shooting in Baghdad, which strained U.S.-Iraqi relations and became a symbol for many Iraqis of foreign disregard for local life.

Dabbagh said Iraq may sue the private security company, now known as Xe Services.

“The Iraqi government regrets and is disappointed by the U.S. court’s decision … We have our own investigations and they showed that Blackwater committed a serious crime in the killing of 17 Iraqi citizens,” Dabbagh said.

“The Iraqi government is considering other legal means through which it can sue the Blackwater company,” he added.

Continue reading »

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Oct 02

- US: American Police Force (AFP) is taking over towns


APF web page admits it runs Blackwater-controlled U.S. Training Center, proving that the two organizations are one and the same

blackwater-helicopter

UPDATE: Blackwater Claims APF Illegally Using Logos, Material

UPDATE: The American Police Force website page which clearly states that they run the Blackwater-controlled U.S. Training Center is back online here.

American Police Force, the paramilitary unit patrolling a small town in Montana, has been exposed as being a front group for the disgraced private military contractor Blackwater, now called “Xe”.

The American Police Force website, on a page that has swiftly been deleted but remains cached here, states that APF runs the “U.S. Training Center,” which proves “a wide range of instruction and training for all types of law enforcement organizations, from basic firearms training to complex SWAT tactics,” according to the website.

The Blackwater website carries on its contact page the following address, underneath the logo for U.S. Training Center.

Xe Services, LLC
PO Box 1029
Moyock, NC 27958

Xe Services LLC is the new name of Blackwater USA. In addition, the U.S. Training Center contact page carries the exact same address.

PO Box 1029
Moyock, NC 27958

The U.S. Training Center is run by Blackwater. Indeed, The U.S. Training Center website, can be accessed via Blackwater’s forwarding URL at http://www.blackwaterusa.com/.

According to a February 2009 NY Times article, the U.S. Training Center is a Blackwater “subsidiary that conducts much of the company’s overseas operations and domestic training.” Blackwater changed the name of the facility from its old title, Blackwater Lodge and Training Center, earlier this this when they also changed their own name to “Xe”.

Since Blackwater runs the U.S. Training Center, and the American Police Force stated on its own website, before it was deleted this morning, that it also runs the U.S. Training Center. This means that either APF is lying about running the U.S. Training Center and is therefore effectively posing as Blackwater, or APF and Blackwater are one and the same.

Exposed: American Police Force Is A Blackwater Front Group 011009shot2a
CLICK FOR ENLARGEMENT: The American Police Force website, on a page that has now been deleted, states that the organization runs the U.S. Training Center.

Exposed: American Police Force Is A Blackwater Front Group 011009shot1a
CLICK FOR ENLARGEMENT: From Blackwater’s USA’s website with the U.S. Training Center logo at the top.

Exposed: American Police Force Is A Blackwater Front Group 011009shot3a
CLICK FOR ENLARGEMENT: From the U.S. Training Center website, the contact address is the same as on the Blckwater site becaue Blackwater owns the U.S. Training Center.

A domain registry check confirms that the U.S. Training Center website is registered to XE Services.

The fact that American Police Force attempted to hide the link by deleting the page on their website is further evidence that they are trying to conceal the fact that they are nothing more than a front group for Blackwater.

The U.S. Training Center is the training facility for Blackwater’s front group, American Police Force. This means that the new training facility that “American Police Force” are trying to build in Hardin is another Blackwater training facility.

This also means that Blackwater troops, under the guise of “American Police Force” have been patrolling Hardin, posing as law enforcement, and are also attempting to boss the $27 million dollar detention center recently built in the Montana town.

Many people have expressed suspicions that the convicted criminal running “American Police Force,” Michael Hilton, is not really the leader of the company and is merely a go between for his bosses. This is now confirmed by the revelation that APF is a front group for Blackwater.

APF’s reticence to divulge who their parent company was to reporters is also explained by the fact that they are a Blackwater front.

As the videos below discuss, Blackwater has been widely attacked for its involvement in atrocities in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Continue reading »

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Sep 18

About Jeremy Scahill

Jeremy Scahill, a Puffin Foundation Writing Fellow at The Nation Institute, is the author of the bestselling Blackwater: The Rise of the World’s Most Powerful Mercenary Army. He is an award-winning investigative journalist and correspondent for the national radio and TV program Democracy Now!.

blackwater-now-xe

Two years ago on September 16, 2007, on a steamy hot Baghdad day with temperatures reaching 100 degrees, a heavily armed Blackwater convoy entered a congested intersection at Nisour Square in the Mansour district of the Iraqi capital. The once-upscale section of Baghdad was still lined with boutiques, cafes and art galleries dating back to better days. The ominous caravan consisted of four large armored vehicles with machine guns mounted on top.

As the Blackwater convoy was entering the square that day, a young Iraqi medical student named Ahmed Hathem Al-Rubaie was driving his mother, Mahasin, in the family’s white sedan. As fate would have it, they found themselves stuck near Nisour Square. The family were devout Muslims and were fasting in observance of the holy month of Ramadan.

Ali Khalaf Salman, an Iraqi traffic cop on duty in Nisour Square that day, remembers vividly when the Blackwater convoy entered the intersection, spurring him and his colleagues to scramble to stop traffic. But as the Mambas entered the square, the convoy suddenly made a surprise U-turn and proceeded to drive the wrong way on a one-way street. As Khalaf watched, the convoy came to an abrupt halt. He says a large white man with a mustache, positioned atop the third vehicle in the Blackwater convoy, began to fire his weapon “randomly.”

Khalaf looked in the direction of the shots, on Yarmouk Road, and heard a woman screaming, “My son! My son!” The police officer sprinted toward the voice and found a middle-aged woman inside of a vehicle holding a 20-year-old man covered in blood, who had been shot in the forehead. “I tried to help the young man, but his mother was holding him so tight,” Khalaf recalled. Another Iraqi policeman, Sarhan Thiab, also ran to the car. “We tried to help him,” Thiab said. “I saw the left side of his head was destroyed and his mother was crying out: ‘My son, my son. Help me, help me.”’

Officer Khalaf recalled looking toward the Blackwater shooters. “I raised my left arm high in the air to try to signal to the convoy to stop the shooting.” He says he thought the men would cease fire, given that he was a clearly identified police officer. The young man’s body was still in the driver’s seat of the automatic vehicle and, as Khalaf and Thiab stood there, it began to roll forward, perhaps as a result of the dead man’s foot remaining on the accelerator. Blackwater guards later said they initially opened fire on the vehicle because it was speeding and would not stop, a claim hotly disputed by scores of witnesses. Aerial photos of the scene later showed that the car had not even entered the traffic circle when it was fired upon by Blackwater, while the New York Times reported, “The car in which the first people were killed did not begin to closely approach the Blackwater convoy until the Iraqi driver had been shot in the head and lost control of his vehicle,” meaning Blackwater had already shot the man. “I tried to use hand signals to make the Blackwater people understand that the car was moving on its own and we were trying to stop it. We were trying to get the woman out but had to run for cover,” Thiab said.

“Don’t shoot, please,” Khalaf recalled yelling. But as he stood with his hand raised, Khalaf says a gunman from the fourth Blackwater vehicle opened fire on the mother gripping her son and shot her dead before Khalaf’s and Thiabs’ eyes. “I saw parts of the woman’s head flying in front of me, blow up,” Thiab said. “They immediately opened heavy fire at us.” Within moments, so many shots had been fired at the car from “big machine guns” that Khalaf says it exploded, engulfing the bodies inside in flames, melting their flesh into one. “Each of their four vehicles opened heavy fire in all directions, they shot and killed everyone in cars facing them and people standing on the street,” Thiab recalled. “When it was over we were looking around and about fifteen cars had been destroyed, the bodies of the killed were strewn on the pavements and road.” When later asked by US investigators why he never fired at the Blackwater men, Khalaf told them, “I am not authorized to shoot, and my job is to look after the traffic.”

Continue reading »

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Aug 23

More on Blackwater (now XE):
- CIA hired Blackwater mercenaries to try to hit al-Qaeda
- “Incestuous” relationships between Blackwater and the US government
- Blackwater got a new $22.2 million deal from the State Department
- Paul Craig Roberts: Americans: Serfs Ruled by Oligarchs


1 of 3:

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Mar 18

More change!


Days after the Baghdad government decided it no longer wanted the company then known as Blackwater in Iraq, the State Department signed a $22.2 million deal in February to keep the embattled contractor working there through most of the summer, contract records show.

The decision keeps Blackwater – since renamed Xe – in Iraq months longer than anyone has suggested publicly, while raising questions about why the U.S. would pay a contractor for work in Iraq if it may not be able to operate there legally.

The State Department has been under pressure from Blackwater critics, including several in Congress, not to renew the company’s contracts in Iraq. Much of the concern stems from a 2007 incident that left 14 Iraqi civilians dead and six former Blackwater guards facing manslaughter charges. One of the guards pleaded guilty, but the company was accused of no wrongdoing in the incident.

In late January, the Iraqi government said it would not renew Blackwater’s operating license and that the company would have to leave as soon as a joint Iraqi-U.S. committee completes its work on guidelines for the operation of private security companies. State Department officials said they would honor the decision.

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