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Monday, December 12, 2011

Blackwater - The Zombie Contractor

Dec 12th, 2011

To describe the latest chapter in the Blackwater saga as merely another corporate "rebranding" is dubious at best. Let's call it what is; It's an attempt to establish a more effective alias. With that in mind, Spencer Ackerman, writing for Wired, introduces us to Academi:

"Say goodbye to Xe. The company formerly known as Blackwater — the world’s most infamous private security corporation — has jettisoned the name it chose in its 2009 rebrand. Now the "security solutions provider" wants to wash away the taint of the 2007 Nisour Square shootings by adopting the new name "Academi."

But the company is changing its name — not its core business. And it even wants back into the country where it ran its brand through the mud: Iraq."

With the draw-down of our troops this month, Iraq potentially faces a dangerous and unstable period not unlike that which followed our disastrously ill-conceived invasion. To once again grant this company access could be a recruiting tool for al-Qaeda rivaling our continued use of Gitmo.

Part of the mythology on Academi's part is that the company's extreme Dominionist founder, Erik Prince isn't involved anymore.

"A consortium of investors close to the family of founder Erik Prince bought the company in late 2010, and spent 2011 putting together its new leadership team. It brought on board former Attorney General John Ashcroft, Bill Clinton consigliere Jack Quinn and Suzanne Folsom from the insurance giant AIG. Wright came from military-services giant KBR. Notice a pattern? All have deep experience with crisis management.

Notice another pattern: All of those hires either worked in senior government positions or worked closely with those who did. That signals confidence in the company’s traditional business — getting big government contracts to protect diplomats, aid workers and even the military in dangerous places. On its new website, Academi says providing "stability and protection to people and locations experiencing turmoil" is its "core" business. New name, same wheelhouse."

Same culture. Founded by a man whose interpretation of the Bible is essentially Wahhabism through a Christian lens. Mr. Prince is also right around the corner from Iraq where he has been, possibly illegally, building a private army of "non-Muslims" in the Middle Eastern desert. To be exact, Mr. Prince has taken up residence in the U.A.E., a country with no U.S. extradition treaty.

The report below might help, in part, to explain why:

Prince is still very much a major power in the shadowy world of private soldiering. He practically wrote the book.

He'll be there... and, perhaps, they'll be there. And it will be completely unrelated. They promise.

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