Blackwater wants you to forget everything you've ever heard about it: The 2007 shootings at Nisour Square in Baghdad that left 17 Iraqi civilians dead, the allegations of bribery and weapons violations, the relations with Iraqis that deteriorated so badly the company was kicked out of the country altogether. A year ago the military contractor adopted a new name, Xe (pronounced zee, and short for the inert gas xenon), and a new CEO, Joseph Yorio.
There's a lot of head-scratching at the CIA over an article in Vanity Fair magazine that dubs Erik Prince, the founder of the notorious private military contractor Blackwater, a "tycoon, contractor, soldier, spy."
The private military contractor formerly known as Blackwater has held classified contracts with the Central Intelligence Agency for nearly a decade, but an allegation that the contractor was part of a secret CIA program to kill al Qaeda operatives -- if true -- would take the relationship to a whole new level.
Two former Blackwater employees have made statements against Blackwater Worldwide and its founder Erik Prince, accusing the security company and its former CEO of murder and other serious crimes in Iraq, according to court documents filed this week.
March 31, 2004, started early for the four men and the convoy they were escorting. Their differences set aside for the time being, the men hopped into their Pajeros and pulled out, heading to the heart of Falluja.
The group would be met by a Blackwater security team in Kabul, Afghanistan. They would be escorted from one meeting to another with employees of the Department of State, the CIA, and the Department of Defense. Erik Prince wanted to know how his company was being perceived half a world away from the Washington media.
A State Department team is back in Washington after more than two weeks in Baghdad investigating diplomatic security practices, including the use of private security firms such as Blackwater USA, a department spokesman said.
Haythem could only recognize his oldest boy from his tall and slim physique as well as what was left of his shoes. His son's head had been blown away, his body charred beyond recognition. His wife of more than 20 years was torn apart.
The State Department's initial report of last month's incident in which Blackwater guards were accused of killing Iraqi civilians was written by a Blackwater contractor working in the embassy security detail, according to government and industry sources.