Overseas Civilian Contractors

News and issues relating to Civilian Contractors working Overseas

Judge Denies Blackwaters Motion for Arbitration

Law Offices of Scott J Bloch  May 23, 2012

WASHINGTON, DC (May 23, 2012) – Blackwater Industries, which changed its name to Xe Services, and now has changed it yet again to Academi LLC, lost its initial bid to have the $240 million suit for employee misclassification sent to arbitration and dismissed from federal court in Washington, D.C.

Scott Bloch filed an amended complaint (see link above) in the class action lawsuit on behalf of four former security specialists, who were injured while working for Blackwater, in order to recover their payment of social security, unemployment insurance, and unpaid benefits and state and local withholding and unemployment insurance, and other unspecified damages. The action seeks $240,000,000 in damages for lost benefits, overtime, treble damages and punitive damages, as well as additional amounts as proved for the class of specialists.

The court has rejected that motion filed by Blackwater and required it to file another motion to determine if the same Plaintiffs agreed to have an arbitrator determine if the agreements were unconscionable, procured by duress, fraud and undue influence.

“Blackwater acted illegally and unconscionably toward these brave individuals,” said Bloch. ”Through their fraud as pointed out in the Amended Complaint, they avoided overtime for security workers who worked sometimes 12-16 hours a day 6 days a week. They were forced to sign agreements they never read and were not given time to read and not given copies, which took away valuable rights and were unlawful in their terms. Now the court has rejected their initial motion and required Blackwater to seek the same relief if they can prove that the Plaintiffs who never were allowed to read the original agreements agreed to have an arbitrator determine whether they properly agreed to anything. We continue to assert the illegality of the agreements and the actions of Blackwater.”

Read Xe’s Arbitration Bid Denied in Misclassification Suit here.

May 23, 2012 Posted by | Blackwater, Civilian Contractors, Contractor Corruption, Contractor Oversight, Defense Base Act, Lawsuits, Legal Jurisdictions | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Leaked emails show US security firm helping Syrian rebels

Press TV  April 4, 2012

Leaked emails show an American private security company, SCG International has been helping the Syrian opposition in its efforts to overthrow President Bashar al-Assad at the request of US officials.

The whistleblower website, Wikileaks, released the emails sent by SCG Chief Executive James F. Smith, the former director of the notorious company Blackwater, which is blamed for the killing of many civilians in Iraq and Afghanistan.

In one of the emails, Smith says his company was contracted to engage the Turkey-based Syrian opposition in a so-called “fact finding mission,” but “the true mission is how they can help in regime change.”

The emails were sent to the vice president of intelligence at Stratfor, Fred Burton. Stratfor, a US-based global security think tank, describes itself as a source of geopolitical analysis to corporate and government clients.

Smith introduces his company to Burton by saying his “background is CIA and his company is comprised of former Department of Defense (DoD), CIA and former law enforcement personnel,” and his company provides services for those same groups in the form of training, security and information collection.

SCG’s mission with the Syrian opposition had “air cover from US Congresswoman Sue Myrick,” a Republican lawmaker from North Carolina, according to the emails.

Smith also provided intelligence to Stratfor on Libya, where SCG International was contracted to protect Libyan National Transitional Council (NTC) members and train Libyan rebel fighters.

Impressed by Smith’s intelligence, Burton praises him in one of the emails saying “Good skinny. This is what is defined as a credible source. Not some windbag Paki academic belching and passing gas.”

The emails are among a trove of five million messages hacked from Stratfor in mid-December by the hacker group Anonymous

Please see the original and read more here

April 4, 2012 Posted by | Blackwater, Civilian Contractors, Syria | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Double sacrifice: Family loses sons in Afghanistan

Associated Press  March 11, 2012

Jeremy Wise

PRESCOTT, Ark. — When their older brother Jeremy died in Afghanistan, Ben and Beau Wise did what loyal brothers and soldiers do. They stood solemnly in uniform at his memorial, laid red roses in front of his picture, and Ben spoke bravely to a chapel full of loved ones who came to mourn

Soldiers themselves, Ben and Beau knew what their fallen brother had experienced and seen. They knew the difficulties of being a warrior and a devoted husband, and what a testament it was to Jeremy’s character that he had excelled at both.

“Jeremy, I miss you and I love you, brother,” Ben said. “And see you again.”

Benjamin Wise

Two years later, Ben died at a hospital in Germany after an insurgent attack left him with injuries that first cost him his legs, then cost him his life. He was 34, a year younger than Jeremy was when a suicide bomber killed him at a CIA base where he was working as a defense contractor.

For a family that had already paid the highest price of war, it was time for another funeral, another eulogy, another grave.

The eldest Wise boys are two of the thousands of Americans who have died since the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan began. But they share a link that most do not: They were brothers.

“They laid down their lives, both of them, so that others could live,” their mother, Mary Wise, said.

Jeremy had just retired as a Navy SEAL and was working as a defense contractor in Afghanistan. He thought he could spend more time with his family that way and still serve his country. When he was home in Virginia, he played ninjas with his stepson, Ethan, and hung around his wife, Dana, even if she was doing something as mundane as laundry.

March 11, 2012 Posted by | Afghanistan, Blackwater, CIA, Civilian Contractors, Contractor Casualties, Government Contractor, Private Security Contractor, State Department | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Homs, Syria: Assad Allies Charge Mossad, CIA, Blackwater Link

International Business Times  March 8, 2012

The press agency of Lebanon’s Hezbollah movement charged Wednesday that the CIA, Israel’s Mossad and private security firms have been exposed supporting Syrian rebels in Homs.

Al-Manar, a channel linked to the Shi’ite militia Hezbollah — a close ally of the Assad regime in Syria — asserted that 700 Arab and Western gunmen along with Israeli, American and European-made weapons were seized in the rebellious Homs neighborhood of Baba Amro when government forces overwhelmed and routed the rebel Free Syrian Army last weekend. It said mercenaries of Xe Services LL, formerly known as Blackwater, and Academi were also apprehended

The site quoted one predicting: “Huge and critical surprises will be uncovered in the coming few days, such as the kinds of arms seized, as well as the military tactics the armed groups follows, and the sides that supervised the operations.”

Salim Harba, a Syrian security expert, told Al-Manar that “a coordination office was established in Qatar under American-Gulf sponsorship. The office includes American, French, and Gulf — specifically from Qatar and Saudi Arabia — intelligence agents, as well as CIA, Mossad, and Blackwater agents and members of the Syrian Transitional Council.”

He added, “Qatar had also made deals with Israeli and American companies to arm the armed groups, and Gulf countries have been financing the agreements.”

Please see the original and read more here

March 8, 2012 Posted by | Blackwater, Civilian Contractors, Contractors Held, Private Security Contractor, Syria | , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Inside Moyock’s ACADEMI training center

WAVY March 1, 2012

MOYOCK, N.C.  It’s new name is ACADEMI . However, many know it as the company formally called Blackwater USA.

ACADEMI’s new owner wants to portray the company in a different light. In a direction, they claim, of more transparency.

For the first time since the change of command, only 10 On Your Side was invited behind the gates of the ACADEMI training center in Moyock, North Carolina.

At first glance the vast land is quiet and serene.

There’s a meditation garden with a short path winding around a simple pond. At the garden’s entrance stands a child embracing the American flag. The silent symbolism is powerful.

Mixed within the beautiful landscape are occasional bursts of gunfire. You also hear the squeal of car tires. Both are a reminder it’s work as usual during WAVY.com’s visit.

On the track, head driving instructor Craig Stephens explained the importance of driving techniques. “I can use this car to save my life. And that’s what I basically train the guys here for,” Stephens said.

The property consists of 7,000 acres sprawled across the border of North Carolina’s Camden and Currituck counties. Parts of it looks like a giant playground, a ropes course with a zip line and slide. There’s also a track where high speed turns are perfected.

Every facility serves a specific purpose, often rooted in some past tragedy. There’s a mock town with a church and high school, which was built to train for and respond to massacres like Columbine and Virginia Tech.

The ACADEMI contractors are mostly former members of the military and police force. They venture into conflict zones to protect American dignitaries. Their biggest client is the U.S. State Department

Please see the original and read more here

March 1, 2012 Posted by | Blackwater, Civilian Contractors, Government Contractor, State Department | , , , | Leave a comment

Iraq wants to limit private security contractors

AFP at Raw Story February 8, 2012

Iraq deeply mistrusts private security companies and wants to limit their operations here, officials say, while the contractors themselves have faced bureaucratic delays and detentions.

This mistrust stems from perceived arrogant behaviour by employees of these firms in the past and various incidents of violence involving them.

The most infamous incident was the 2007 killing of at least 14 civilians in Baghdad’s Nisur Square by gunmen from the Blackwater firm guarding a US embassy convoy.

While Blackwater, now called ACADEMI, was later banned from the country, security contractors still guard US diplomats in Iraq and provide security for various foreign companies.

“Iraq is not looking to expand the security companies’ work here,” government spokesman Ali al-Dabbagh said in an interview with AFP.

“We feel that Iraq should move to the normal life — we don’t want to see the tens of the security companies taking the job of the ministry of interior.

“Iraq has got a not friendly history with the security companies, especially … Blackwater, and we don’t want to repeat that crisis again. So, we would like to limit their work here in Iraq, but we don’t want to stop them,” Dabbagh said.

The firms “have to understand that … they don’t have free (movement) in the country. They have to follow the instruction, they have to hold the permit, a valid permit, and they are not allowed to violate the Iraqi laws

“They are not exempted as before, and they are not getting any sort of immunity,” he said.

“We do need them, definitely, we do need them, (and) we are not going to stop them, but definitely, we will limit their work,” Dabbagh said.

The matter has also drawn the attention of parliament’s security and defence committee.

“After discussions with the interior ministry, we found that there are around 65 security companies, more than half of them Iraqi and the remainder foreign,” committee member MP Abbas al-Bayati told AFP.

Bayati said a small committee created to study the issue wants security companies to use only light weapons, and that they should obtain permission to move outside pre-determined areas.

The large number of contractors “negatively impacts the security situation in the country,” Iskander Witwit, another member of the committee, told AFP.

Please see the original and read more here

February 8, 2012 Posted by | Blackwater, Civilian Contractors, Iraq, Private Security Contractor | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Consequences of Pursuit of Profit

That dispute led to the under-equipment and under-preparation of the security team on which the four Blackwater employees died.   Their deaths led the military to launch an invasion of Fallujah.

So here it is: A contract dispute led to a major development in a major war of the United States – and that is Paul’s point.

David Isenberg at PMC Observer

Reduced to its essentials every argument and debate about the use of private military and security contractors comes down to two words; outsourcing and privatization. The argument is simply whether they are good and bad.
Personally I think that, like most other things, the answer is maybe. Hey, if you want absolutes take up physics.

But lately, partly I suppose, in response to the predictable quadrennial Republican party blather about the glories of the free market – cue the inevitable segue into why America needs a purported businessman like Mitt Romney to “fix America” – my repressed academic side has been pondering the pitfalls of privatizing the battlefield.

Before going any further let me acknowledge the contribution and sacrifice of PMSC personnel. To paraphrase Winston Churchill, never has so much depended on such an unacknowledged few.

That said, let’s turn to one of the iconic contractor moments of the U.S.involvement in Iraq; the killing of four Blackwater contractors in Fallujah in 2004.

Please go to David’s blog and read the entire post

 

February 7, 2012 Posted by | Blackwater, Civilian Contractors, Contractor Casualties, Follow the Money, Halliburton, KBR, LOGCAP, Private Military Contractors, Private Security Contractor, Safety and Security Issues | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Benjamin Brian Wise dies of injuries

Benjamin Brian Wise, brother to Blackwater Contractor Former Navy SEAL Jeremy Wise Killed two years ago in Khost CIA Bombing, has died at Landstuhl due to injuries received in Afghanistan on January 9.

Magnolia Reporter  January 17, 2012

A Hope, Arkansas couple has lost a second son to military action in Afghanistan.

Sgt. 1st Class Benjamin Brian Wise, 34, of Little Rock, died Sunday in Landsthul Regional Medical Center in Germany of injuries sustained Monday, January 9 when enemy forces attacked his unit with small-arms fire. He was assigned to the 3rd Battalion, 1st Special Forces Group, Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington.

Benjamin Brian Wise

According to a post on the Defense Base Act Compensation Blog, Sgt. Wise died from complications of wounds received when he was shot in both legs. The legs were amputated in an attempt to save his life, but Wise did not survive.

Sgt. Wise’s wife and children live in Puyallup, Washington.

Wise is the son of Dr. Jean and Mary Wise of Hope. They are former residents of Magnolia and Camden. Dr. Wise is an ear, nose and throat specialist who has a clinic in Hope.

Sgt. Wise is also survived by a sister, Mary Heather Skaleski, and a brother, Matthew “Beau” Jordan Wise.

Jeremy Wise, 35, a former U.S. Navy SEAL, died in Afghanistan on Dec. 30, 2009. He was one of seven people killed when a suicide bomber attacked a meeting at Forward Operating Base Chapman, where Wise was working as a security contractor. The explosion killed five of the Central Intelligence Agency’s top operatives in Afghanistan.

U.S. Rep. Mike Ross of Prescott issued a statement on Monday night regarding Sgt. Wise’s death.

“Sergeant First Class Benjamin Wise was a true American hero -giving his life in service to our great country. His bravery, dedication and patriotism exemplified what it means to be an American soldier and I am eternally grateful for his selfless sacrifice. My thoughts and prayers are with his wife, children, parents and the rest of his many family and friends during this very difficult time. We must never forget that our service members often put themselves in harm’s way, and too many, like Sergeant First Class Benjamin Wise, die in service to our country. We must always thank all of our active duty service members and veterans for what they do and have done, and never forget those, like Sergeant First Class Benjamin Wise, who have died serving this country,” the statement said

January 17, 2012 Posted by | Afghanistan, Blackwater, Civilian Contractors, Contractor Casualties, Private Security Contractor | , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

IRS Targets US ExPats

Updates to our ExPat Tax Page

For years companies like Blackwater and Ronco Consulting  have Misrepresented their employees as Consultants or Independent Contractors to the IRS to escape having to pay Social Security and Medicare payroll taxes.

Thank you Blackwater and Ronco Consulting

At the same time these same companies represented these same consultants and Independent Contractors to be employees for the purpose of purchasing the mandated Defense Base Act Worker’s Comp Insurance.  Even going so far as to have contractors sign new backdated employment contracts AFTER they were injured.

Fraudulent activity of this nature has garnered the full attention of the IRS to the Contract Employee much more so than it has the Contract Company.  Blackwater even continued to do this after the IRS busted them.

Bob Powers of Power Tax sends us this and asks that we warn all ExPats to be prepared.

Pursuant to an IRS internal memo Memorandum Number: AM2009-0003

This link IRS  has an important note regarding the definition of a foreign tax home (which is necessary to claim the Sec 911 benefit).

The IRS has been using this in somewhat of a distorted way to deny the FEIE to contractors working in Iraq and Afghanistan,, not only those who have families in the U.S., but also single people who left home, joined the military and then were hired as contractors.

If they did not plan in advance and take all the steps necessary to show that their abode was in a foreign country and not in the U.S. they are disallowing the exclusion.

Many have had inexperienced tax preparers or did their own tax return and the case dragged on so long that they lost their administrative appeals rights and facing a substantial tax bill plus penalties cannot afford a good tax attorney to take it to Tax Court.

As a result, the IRS is using their muscle to claim that these workers were living on a base and had no contact with the local community and therefore their “abode-which is not clearly defined anywhere) was in the U.S.

This is the quote from the IRS page:

Tax Home
Your tax home is the general area of your main place of business, employment, or post of duty, regardless of where you maintain your family home.
Your tax home is the place where you are permanently or indefinitely engaged to work as an employee or self-employed individual. Having a “tax home” in a given location does not necessarily mean that the given location is your residence or domicile for tax purposes.

If you do not have a regular or main place of business because of the nature of your work, your tax home may be the place where you regularly live. If you have neither a regular or main place of business nor a place where you regularly live, you are considered an itinerant and your tax home is wherever you work.

You are not considered to have a tax home in a foreign country for any period in which your abode is in the United States . However, your abode is not necessarily in the States while you are temporarily in the United States .

Your abode is also not necessarily in the United States merely because you maintain a dwelling in the United
States , whether or not your spouse or dependents use the dwelling.

“Abode” has been variously defined as one’s home, habitation, residence, domicile, or place of dwelling. It does not mean your principal place of business. “Abode” has a domestic rather than a vocational meaning and does not mean the same as “tax home.”
The location of your abode often will depend on where you maintain your economic,
family, and personal ties.

Example 1.
You are employed on an offshore oil rig in the territorial waters of a foreign country and work a 28-day on/28-day off schedule. You return to your family residence in the United States during your off periods. You are considered to have an abode in the United States and do not satisfy the tax home test in the foreign country. You cannot claim
either of the exclusions or the housing deduction.

Example 2.
For several years, you were a marketing executive with a producer of machine tools in Toledo , Ohio . In November of last year, your employer transferred you to London , England , for a minimum of 18 months to set up a sales operation for Europe . Before you left, you distributed business cards showing your business and home addresses in London .

You kept ownership of your home in Toledo but rented it to another family. You placed your car in storage. In November of last year, you moved your spouse, children, furniture, and family pets to a home your employer rented for you in London .

Shortly after moving, you leased a car and you and your spouse got British driving licenses. Your entire family got library cards for the local public library. You and your spouse opened bank accounts with a London bank and secured consumer credit. You joined a local business league and both you and your spouse became active in the
neighborhood civic association and worked with a local charity.

Your abode is in London for the time you live there. You satisfy the tax home test in the foreign country.

Note that the IRS agents examining these returns are not seasoned international agents and their internal directive is to disallow the exclusion regardless of the taxpayer’s defenses and force it to go to Tax Court.

We recommend you check out Power Taxes pages before you deploy.

U.S. Expatriate Tax & Business Solutions

January 12, 2012 Posted by | Blackwater, Civilian Contractors, Defense Base Act, ExPats, Follow the Money, Legal Jurisdictions, Ronco, Ronco Consulting Corporation, Taxes, Uncategorized, War Hazards Act | , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Blackwater Settles Nisoor Square Lawsuit

Charlotte lawyers sought damages in six deaths and injuries in 2007 incident that sparked debate over use of private security contractors.

The Charlotte Observer January 6, 2012

 

Ali Kinani

“With respect to the Iraqi families and individuals who were plaintiffs in this lawsuit (it) provides them with compensation so they can now bring some closure to the losses they suffered,” the statement reads.

The lawsuit was the last active civil suit stemming from the incident, in which five Blackwater guards were accused in 14 deaths.

It was the second confidential settlement with the company’s corporate successor, Arlington-Va.-based Academi announced Friday, days after the final U.S. troops left Iraq.

A federal appeals court ended a lawsuit over an episode that produced one of the more disturbing images of the war: the grisly killings of four Blackwater security contractors and the hanging of a pair of their bodies from a bridge in Fallujah.

Families of those victims reached a confidential settlement with the company’s corporate successor, Arlington, Va.-based Academi, and the U.S. 4th Circuit Court of Appeals dismissed the suit last week. The settlement was first reported Friday by The Virginian-Pilot of Norfolk, Va.

Please see the original and read more here

January 6, 2012 Posted by | Blackwater, Civilian Casualties, Civilian Contractors, Contractor Oversight, Follow the Money, Iraq, Lawsuits, Legal Jurisdictions, Politics, Private Military Contractors, Private Security Contractor | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Families of dead Blackwater contractors settle suit

Bill Sizemore The Virginian Pilot  January 6, 2012

Seven years after it was filed, what could have been a landmark lawsuit over battlefield accountability in an era of privatized warfare has been quietly laid to rest.

As a result, the security company formerly known as Blackwater has avoided a public examination of the bloody event that catapulted the company to worldwide attention and changed the course of the Iraq war.

The lawsuit was filed in January 2005 by the families of four Blackwater guards killed in a convoy ambush in Fallujah, Iraq, in March 2004. In what became an iconic image of the war, the four were shot and dismembered, and two of the bodies were strung from a bridge while a crowd of Iraqis cheered and chanted.

Televised images of the gruesome scene were flashed worldwide, prompting a devastating retaliatory assault on the city by U.S. forces that fanned the flames of the Iraqi insurgency.

The security company, now known as Academi, reached a confidential settlement with the families last week.

Two sources who insisted on anonymity said the company agreed to a total payout of $635,000 – a mere fraction of the legal fees in the long-running case, let alone the $30 million in claims and counterclaims at stake.

The settlement is in keeping with an aggressive makeover effort by Academi’s current owners, who bought the company from founder Erik Prince a year ago and are doing their best to distance themselves from allegations of lawless behavior at Blackwater, from the streets of Baghdad to the executive suite in Moyock, N.C.

Beyond any financial considerations, the Fallujah victims’ families never got what they always said they wanted most: an opportunity to hold the company publicly accountable for their loved ones’ deaths.

The four men – Wesley Batalona, Scott Helvenston, Michael Teague and Jerry Zovko – were traveling in two Mitsubishi SUVs, escorting a convoy of flatbed trucks to pick up kitchen equipment from a U.S. military base.

Please read the entire article here

January 6, 2012 Posted by | Blackwater, Civilian Contractors, Contractor Oversight, Defense Base Act, Follow the Money, Iraq, Legal Jurisdictions, Private Security Contractor, Safety and Security Issues | , , , , | Leave a comment

Confessions of a Private Security Contractor

 by Suzanne Kelly at CNN’s Security Clearance  December 27, 2011

“There are a lot of assumptions about contractors, and a lot of the assumptions are wrong.” Those are the words of a private security contractor who asked to be referred to only as “Lloyd” for this story, because like most of his colleagues he is not authorized to speak to the media.

By Lloyd’s count, he has spent some 1,000 days working in Afghanistan in the past four years. He, like many other well-trained military men, decided to leave his position as a Navy SEAL and take his chances finding employment in one of the hot spots around the world where highly skilled contractors were well-paid, and in demand.

Very few people outside the contracting industry really understood just what a private security contractor did before March 31, 2004. That was the day four American security contractors accompanying a shipment of kitchen equipment through Iraq were ambushed, killed, set on fire, dragged through the streets, and hung from a bridge before a cheering crowd in the city of Fallujah.

As shock subsided, questions arose. Who were these American men? If they weren’t members of the military, what were they doing in one of the most volatile regions of Iraq?

All four men were private security contractors working for a company called Blackwater. At the time the company, like many others, was just getting on its feet as U.S. demand for security services skyrocketed. The government needed armed, well-trained security personnel in hostile territories. The new push started when the United States went to war in a CIA-led operation in Afghanistan in 2001. e CIA’s early advance teams were not fully prepared for the pace of their own success. They quickly needed makeshift facilities to hold hostile enemy combatants and establish secure operating bases. The military wasn’t yet in a position to help, so the CIA hired Blackwater.

It was a similar story when the U.S. invaded Iraq in 2003. A heavy presence of diplomats and reconstruction experts working in a hostile area meant they needed to be protected. Blackwater won a part of the contract to provide security services in the country. But being a private security contractor was a shady business, if not in the “legal” sense, in the “keeping off the radar” sense. Many of the contracts that were granted to companies such as Blackwater included clauses that severely limited the companies’ ability to talk to members of the media. Contracting was, by the design of the U.S. government, secretive.

Please read the entire story here

December 27, 2011 Posted by | Afghanistan, Blackwater, CIA, Civilian Contractors, Contractor Casualties, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Private Military Contractors, Private Security Contractor, Safety and Security Issues, State Department | , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Include US Civilian Contractors in US Deaths/Injured in Iraq and Afghanistan

The President of the United States: Include U.S Civilian Contractors in Deaths/Injured in Iraq & Afghanistan

Please go here to sign the petition

Why This Is Important

As Americans, we all feel a sense of patriotism when it comes to our great country. The men and women who chose to go to Iraq and Afghanistan in a civilian capacity to serve our country are NOT included in the numbers when they tally the numbers of Deaths and Injured. Why should they be included you may ask? Why should they be excluded I ask.

When a civilian contractor is killed or injured the American people are paying the bill. Survivor benefits, worker’s compensation, funeral expenses, medical expenses etc are all paid for by the American people. While the multi-billion dollar private military companies like (DynCorp, KBR, Xe, etc.) sit back and continue to reap the benefits of the continued international conflicts.

If you know a civilian contractor who is currently employed, has been injured, has been killed please sign our petition. Although many of these men and women who chose to serve our country in the civilian capacity are retired military personnel, they receive no acknowldgement of their sacrafices when they are injured or killed.

Instead our Government wants to hide these brave men and women and not include these losses in the numbers of Americans who have sacrificed

Please sign the petition here

December 15, 2011 Posted by | Afghanistan, AIG and CNA, Blackwater, Civilian Contractors, Contractor Casualties, Contractors Missing, Defense Base Act, Department of Defense, Follow the Money, Iraq, KBR, Pentagon, Politics, Private Military Contractors, Private Security Contractor, State Department, Traumatic Brain Injury, USACE, USAID, Wartime Contracting | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Blackwater 3.0: Rebranded ‘Academi’ Wants Back In Iraq

by Spencer Ackerman at Wired’s Danger Room   December 12, 2011

So much for naming your mercenary company after an obscure element from the periodic table.

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.

“Our focus is on training and security services. We’re continuing that,” new CEO Ted Wright tells 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.”

If Blackwater — sorry, Academi – was a sports franchise, you’d consider 2011 its rebuilding year. 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.

Please read more at the Danger Room

December 12, 2011 Posted by | Blackwater, Civilian Contractors, Contractor Corruption, Contractor Oversight, Follow the Money, Iraq, Private Military Contractors, Private Security Contractor, Xe | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Blackwater gets an even bigger makeover “ACADEMI”

By Suzanne Kelly, CNN

Suzanne Kelly Simons is a CNN Senior National Security Correspondent and author of Master of War: Blackwater USA’s Erik Prince and the Business of War

The company once known as the world’s most notorious private security contractor, Blackwater, is changing its name and its look once again in a bid to prove that it has outgrown its toxic reputation.

Renaming the company “ACADEMI” tops a number of changes that have been made by a private equity consortium that purchased the company from former owner Erik Prince last year.

“The message here is not that we’re changing the name,” said Ted Wright, who came on as the new company CEO in June. “The message is that we’re changing the company, and the name just reflects those changes. We have new owners, a new board of directors, a new management team, new location, new attitude on governance, new openness, new strategy – it’s a whole new company.”

Blackwater was dogged by controversy as it rose from a training facility in Moyock, North Carolina, in the late ’90s, to a private security powerhouse at the height of the war in Iraq. But as business boomed, so did the demand for growth, and rules regarding issues like compliance and governance were sometimes not followed. There were also accusations that some Blackwater guards operating in Iraq’s virtually lawless environment were heavy-handed, and then a deadly shooting in a Baghdad traffic circle in 2007 was the beginning of the end for the company

Please read the entire post at CNN

December 12, 2011 Posted by | Blackwater, Civilian Contractors, Private Security Contractor | , , , , , | Leave a comment