Infamously known for killing 17 Iraqi civilians in Baghdad's Nisour Square in 2007, private security contractor Blackwater's name-changing continues, calling itself Academi, with a byline of Elite Training, Trusted Protection, and now wants back in Iraq.
The private security contractor once known as Blackwater, then known as Xe, is rebranding itself one more time, all in three years’ time, and while its new name may be Academi, its core focus is still the same: security service training and a Middle East country called Iraq.
“Our focus is on training and security services. We’re continuing that,” new CEO Ted Wright told Wired’s Danger Room. “We’re not backing away from security services. The lion’s share of our business today is providing training for security services and [providing] security services.”
On board as part of the new leadership team at Blackwater/Xe/Academi are a group of politically and financially connected do-gooders, including former Attorney General John Ashcroft (yes, he of the Bush II cabal), Jack Quinn (Danger Room calls him a consigliere to Bill Clinton) and Suzanne Folsom, bringing with her the experience gleaned from insurance behemoth AIG. Wright, the new CEO, came from KBR, a military-services contractor which once claimed the fingerprints of Dick Cheney all over it.
As Danger Room notes,
All of those hires either worked in senior government positions or worked closely with those who did.
Academi will continue using Blackwater’s “elite training facility” at Moyock, North Carolina, Wright added, to train police, first responders, and yes, U.S. troops.
As Xe, the company attempted a change in name only. It remained in the private security business, often by using front companies, Danger Room notes. One of these, International Development Solutions (IDS), was part of a partnership that won security contract from the State Department in 2010, to the tune of $10 billion.
Wright said all future Academi subsidiaries “will have the word ‘Academi’ in front,” according to Danger Room. Except for IDS, of which Academi is a “minority partner.”
Added Wright, “As we make changes and they take root and we convince everyone they’re real, then the real proof in the pudding is convincing the government of Iraq and the U.S. government to let us do business in Iraq.”
Although Iraq restricted Blackwater from conducting business there after the Nisour Square massacre, U.S. forces are set to depart Iraq within days, leaving behind the carnage, destruction and death only the world’s largest military budget could, along with a massive void being filled by mercenaries. Danger Room calls Academi’s desire to return there as “a hard sell.”
However, as Iraq has transformed itself into what President Obama calls a “role model,” no doubt due in part to Blackwater’s security services, the hard sell shouldn’t be too hard. The proof is already in the pudding, with the 2010 $10 billion contract.
Add to the bowl of pudding Wright’s promotion of Blackwater, uh, Academi, as “an institution of trained thinkers and warriors” who convey “excellence, dignity, honor, integrity.”
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