by John Grooms
Blackwater, the security firm that served as U.S. mercenaries in Iraq and got themselves into all kinds of legal trouble as a result, is up for sale. The company, now called Xe Services although no one seems to use that name, is being sold, said founder Eric Prince, because "Performance doesn't matter in Washington, just politics." Just for the record, here are examples of Blackwaters performance, and some of the legal problems (or, as Prince sees it, politics) it has caused:
1. Five former executives, including Gary Jackson, the company's ex-president, were indicted on charges of conspiring to violate federal firearms laws.
2. In September 2007, Blackwater security guards shot and killed 17 Iraqi civilians in Baghdads Nisoor Square, and wounded more than 20, including those injured when the guards launched a grenade into a girls school.
3. On June 7, 2008, five Blackwater security guards were charged for their role in the 2007 Nisoor Square massacre. Those charges would be dropped 18 months later after the Justice Department blew the case by making several missteps, according to the judge.
4. In June 2008, federal agents raided Blackwater as part of an investigation into a deal that allowed a local sheriff to store high-powered assault rifles at the company's armory in Moyock, N.C. The Feds also seized 17 unregistered AK-47s from the company's headquarters.
5. In November 2008, The Justice Department hit Blackwater with multi-million dollar fines for shipping automatic weapons to Iraq without the necessary permits. Some of those weapons ended up on Iraq's black market. The larger weapons, including M-4 assault weapons, were concealed on shipping pallets surrounded by stacks of dog food bags, after which the pallets were shrink-wrapped.
6. On January 29, 2009, the Iraqi government decided not to renew Blackwater's contract to operate in Iraq.
7. One day later, the State Deparment declined to renew the companys contract to protect department employees in Iraq.
8. In January 2010, two Blackwater contractors were indicted for the May 5, 209 murder of two Afghan civilians, which occurred in Kabul, Afghanistan after a traffic accident.
9. In February, 2010, two former Blackwater employees charged that the company defrauded the U.S. government by placing a prostitute in Afghanistan on its payroll under the "Morale Welfare Recreation" category, then billed the government for her salary and plane tickets.
This list could go on and on, but there are limited time, space, and reader patience to be considered here. In any case, the above list is just one indication of the performance by Blackwater that has led to politics (being indicted for crimes), and now, to the company being on the selling block.