Friday, February 13, 2009

Does a Mercenary By Any Other Name Smell Just as Foul?

Jacki Junti sends us this article. Blackwater, it seems, is changing its name.

US security firm mired in Iraq controversy changes its name

Blackwater Worldwide renamed Xe as company tries to salvage its tarnished brand

Blackwater Worldwide is abandoning its tarnished brand name as it tries to shake a reputation battered by oft-criticised work in Iraq, renaming its family of two dozen businesses under the name Xe. The parent company's new name is pronounced like the letter z.

Blackwater Lodge & Training Centre ­ the subsidiary that conducts much of the company's overseas operations and domestic training ­ has been renamed US Training Centre Inc., the company said today.

The decision comes as part of an ongoing rebranding effort that grew more urgent following a September 2007 shooting in Iraq that left at least a dozen civilians dead. Blackwater president Gary Jackson said in a memo to employees the new name reflects the change in company focus away from the business of providing private security.

"The volume of changes over the past half-year have taken the company to an exciting place and we are now ready for two of the final, and most obvious changes," Jackson said in the note.

In his memo, Jackson indicated the company was not interested in actively pursuing new private security contracts. Jackson and other Blackwater executives said last year the company was shifting its focus away from such work to focus on training and providing logistics.

"This company will continue to provide personnel protective services for high-threat environments when needed by the US government, but its primary mission will be operating our training facilities around the world, including the flagship campus in North Carolina," Jackson said.

Blackwater mercenaries patrol New Orleans streets in the aftermath of Katrina.

The company has operated under the Blackwater name since 1997, when chief executive Erik Prince and some of his former Navy Seal colleagues launched it in north-eastern North Carolina, naming their new endeavour for the area swamp streams that run black with murky water. But the name change underscores how badly the Moyock-based company's brand was damaged by its work in Iraq.

In 2004, four of its contractors were killed in an insurgent ambush in Fallujuah, with their bodies burned, mutilated and strung from a bridge. The incident triggered a US siege of the restive city.

The September 2007 shooting in Baghdad's Nisoor Square added to the damage. The incident infuriated politicians both in Baghdad in Washington, triggering congressional hearings and increasing calls that the company be banned from operating in Iraq.

Last month, Iraqi leaders said they would not renew Blackwater's license to operate there, citing the lingering outrage over the shooting in Nisoor Square, and the US state department said later it will not renew Blackwater's contract to protect diplomats when it expires in May.

Blackwater spokeswoman Anne Tyrrell said the company made the name change largely because of changes in its focus, but acknowledged the need for the company to shake its past in Iraq.

"It's not a direct result of a loss of contract, but certainly that is an aspect of our work that we feel we were defined by," Tyrrell said.


Dakota said...

I wonder what blackwater will do with all those highly paid operators that disarmed little ol lady's post Katrina now that they have no one to push around.....hmmmmm. Oh .....train to be the dirty lil secret for Obamas "brown shirts". Then it will be surrender your guns to the children or we'll send in the "professionals".

Brass said...

Second, look up the history of that photo. They're New Orleans Police. And they're just as thuggish.

Anonymous said...

They should have gone with "Ravenwood" (ala the Jericho series).

Seems fitting.

Or "The Hessians."

Gee, I wonder if Xe employees will just follow orders to fire on lowly civilian Americans, when the orders come down from their federal "customers"?

Of course they will - they are "professionals" and no doubt are honed to a fine edge, honed to kill.

CorbinKale said...

Maybe this is the civilian force that Obama promised us?

hairy hobbit said...

so they take a chinese looking name in order to appear different from what they are?

Don't the communists have enough in their armies yet? Why do we need to have these guys train more?

I have to assume that is what they intended because Xenon, an inert gas hardly carries with it any "security." Perhaps trying to seem non-threatening, in which case I would also shop elsewhere.

thedweeze said...

OK, Fine.

I'm going to the range tomorrow anyway, so I guess I'll take a few moments to make sure my rifle is properly "xero'd" in.

W W Woodward said...

Sounds like calling a duck a goose.

45superman said...

I hope the New Hessian Commandos take a moment to realize that Fallujuah isn't the only place with matches, bridges, and people with the will to use them.

They can call themselves Blackwater, Xe, or . . . Brightfire, for that matter, but it will take far more than a name change for them to escape their past.

High Plains Lawyer said...

I would not be surprised at all if Blackwater contractors were directly involved in disarming citizens in New Orleans during Katrina, but does anyone know for sure that they were?

I would like verifiable proof.

It would matter to me not so much because it would affect what I think of them (I already see them as merely orcs in the service of Mordor on the Potomac), but in what I can tell others, to convince them that Blackwater is not a "good guy" org.

It is necessary to open the eyes of fellow gun owners about the reality of such orgs, as well as the reality of much of the police - they have already chosen sides, and it is not ours.

fireplaceguy said...

This is a great idea. If I ever suffer some kind of lapse and kill for money or abuse my fellow citizens, I'll just file for a name change and all will be well!

Perhaps they can scarf up some stimulus money to print new t-shirts and baseball caps. After all, anything goes in the Obamanation...

Vanderboegh said...

Google has this citation (link since removed) from Blackwater's own site.

Blackwater Tactical Weekly
Sep 5, 2005 ... This morning (September 1, 2005), Blackwater USA joined the ongoing relief effort in the Gulf Region devastated by Hurricane Katrina by ... - 27k - Cached - Similar pages

CBS filed this story at the time:

Did they seize guns? I don't know. They were there, however, as numerous photos demonstrate.

Mike H said...

Reminds me of Handgun Control 'becoming' Brady Center.

Kinder, gentler tyranny?

Typical commie trick. How about say 'Guardians of Love'?

45superman said...

How about say 'Guardians of Love'?

If it were up to me (and I realize it ain't), that would be the winner.

Anonymous said...

So, if this article's info is half-correct,

I follow with a legal question:

Is it legal for mercenaries (including non-citizens) hired by the to carry weapons on U.S. streets?

It seems to me that Posse Comm., which we know has been severely eroded should have some bearing on this.

Another idea. If the militias start taking flack, why not just become GAO-approved security companies?

Apparently that opens the door to a whole new world of 'rights'!


ReverendFranz said...

Yes, individuals with security companies Once approved by whatever the DHS program is called, are given a plethora of rights, and can obtain all nature of exemptions to law, in a similar fashion to Federal Agents (hint: they dont go through security at airports, and dont fill out the same NFA forms)

Im not sure what the vetting process entails (i can find out) but i do know that it carries a hefty "processing fee"

you know what they say, the more corrupt the government, the easier it is to get things done, provided you have the cash on hand.

I have mixxed feelings about the blackwater story, on one hand i am glad they are distancing themselves from providing active security personel, a year or two ago, they were in such a growth pattern, that it seemed likely that they would absorb most of the private security (real security, not the mall) in the country and sit as a leviathan agent with massive and unpredictable power, something that i cant help but think would be unstable and dangerous.

However, with the focus on training, (and with little chance they are downsizing significantly) we are looking at one MF BIG school of the americas here, and they will be actively shopping for students all over the world, and when they come to Xe's training facilities, it will most likely be to learn what the folks at blackwater know best, how to run a private army. Now we have effectively eradicated the Former Blackwater's primary weakness, public scruitiny and name recognition. With dozens of new private armies surfacing (probably to government contracts) no one will be able to keep track of them, and like fly by night salesmen of yore, they can easily escape acountability by fading away and resurfacing somewhere new.

I think we are looking at multiple moving targets now, instead of our old leviathan head target...

maybe they should have named themselves Chaff.

That being said, id still like to go...

Qi Ji Guang said...

It's like calling hydrochloric acid "liquor of salt" or "aqua regia". Doesn't matter what you name it, it will hurt just the same if poured on you.

drjim said...

Typical Orwellian Double-Speak.
BTW..."Guardians of Love" gets my vote, too.

Qi Ji Guang said...

QUOTE With dozens of new private armies surfacing (probably to government contracts) no one will be able to keep track of them, and like fly by night salesmen of yore, they can easily escape acountability by fading away and resurfacing somewhere new. QUOTE

Doesn't matter though. You can change your name and live a new life, but you can't change your face, or personality. Not even plastic surgery will do that for you. You can and will still be recognized, even if you flee to Antarctica. So if you murder innocents or violate them in any way on US soil, you will still be caught, sooner or later. Institutionalized murder and violence can only go on for so long, before the criminals' immunity wears off, due to something like war. After that, you will be nothing but killers and predators, to be hunted down and sent to the gallows.

straightarrow said...

Not so sure about that Qi, Reno and Horiuchi are still free and living.

Qi Ji Guang said...

QUOTE Not so sure about that Qi, Reno and Horiuchi are still free and living. QUOTE

Indeed they are. The shield called institutionalized immunity that protects these criminals have not yet expired.

But shields don't last forever. Not even the Romans lasted forever. Even the Romans tasted a bit of regime change. And when something like that happens, the shield of immunity expires, and former JBTs are reduced to nothing but common criminal thugs, ordinary killers, to be hunted down, prosecuted, and justice served.

High Plains Lawyer said...

Vanderboegh said...

"Did they seize guns? I don't know. They were there, however, as numerous photos demonstrate."

Thanks for the links Mike. I did know they were there, and hence I think it is safe to presume they took part in the disarming, but it sure would be extra cool to have direct evidence of Blackwater orcs disarming citizens.

Gun owners need to know very clearly that Blackwater (or whatever it calls itself) is in the enemy category.

Tom said...

Plus, as the cleveland clinic recently demonstrated, you CAN change your face. Add in giant piles of cash to buy the best and a couple more "experimental" surgeries to work out any bugs and soon it will be closer to the movie version presented in face off.

Now...what kind of money are we talking for a nationwide company dealing with security so we can get those extra special only one type rights? Might be a better way to spend those NRA dues...of course with Holder in there we'd never have access to counsel.