RALEIGH, N.C. — The international security contractor formerly known as Blackwater has agreed to pay a $7.5 million fine to settle federal criminal charges related to arms smuggling and other crimes.
Documents unsealed Tuesday in a U.S. District Court in North Carolina said the company, now called Academi LLC, agreed to pay the fine as part of a deferred prosecution agreement to settle 17 violations.
The list includes possessing automatic weapons in the United States without registration, lying to federal firearms regulators about weapons provided to the king of Jordan, passing secret plans for armored personnel carriers to Sweden and Denmark and illegally shipping body armor overseas.
Federal prosecutors said it settles a long and complex case against the company, which has held billions in U.S. security contracts in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The Justice Department plans to bring a new indictment against four Blackwater Worldwide guards involved in a 2007 shooting that killed 17 Iraqis.
U.S. District Judge Ricardo Urbina had thrown out the case in 2009, but an appeals court reinstated the charges last year.
Urbina, who has since retired, said prosecutors built their case on sworn statements the guards had given under a promise of immunity.
A Justice Department attorney told Judge Royce Lamberth on Wednesday that a special team will ensure that prosecutors working on the new indictment don’t have access to “privileged statements.” Prosecutors say they will seek a superseding indictment after gathering additional evidence.
The guards are accused of opening fire in a crowded Baghdad intersection in 2007.
The Virginian Pilot June 25, 2012
Academi plans to build a 235-bed lodge at its Moyock, N.C.,-based compound with plans to expand operations where it trains military and law enforcement personnel how to shoot better under stress, protect officials from terrorist attacks, and storm criminal hideouts, among other things.
The $3.2 million lodge is the largest expansion of facilities on the 7,000-acre compound in at least four years. It comes after a tumultuous period during which the company name changed twice and management rolled over.
Formerly known as Blackwater, Academi is the largest taxpayer in Camden County. With about 250 workers on site, it also is the largest private employer in the county, where most its facilities are based.
AOL Defense June 8, 2012
Last month, apparently without attracting any public attention (until now), they quietly bought another security firm, International Development Solutions, and took over its piece of the State Department’s $10 billion World Protective Services contract, which then-Blackwater got kicked out of years ago.
And ACADEMI plans on further acquisitions, CEO Ted Wright confirmed in an exclusive interview with AOL Defense.
The company has spent a year rebuilding and is set to grow again, said Wright, who took over in June 2011. (He was hired by a new ownership team that bought out Blackwater founder Erik Prince the previous December). “The things we said we were going to do a year ago, we’ve kind of done,” said Wright, just back from visiting employees in Afghanistan.
Since he started, the company has not only a new name but a new management team, a new board of directors — in fact it didn’t even have a board before — and a new corporate headquarters in Arlington, looking across the Potomac River straight at the headquarters of the State Department. Many of the employees doing security work in the field are new, Wright said, and the core of ACADEMI’s business, its training cadre, has turned over almost completely: Only about 10 instructors remain from the old days, compared to 30 new hires, with another 20 on the way.
Another Defense Base Act PTSD failure.
McIntosh took his own life in February in Harlingen, Texas. He was 35
Doug Robinson at Deseret News June 5, 2012
Dale McIntosh stands with children in Central America. McIntosh did private security work in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Dale McIntosh was no stranger to death. When it wasn’t everywhere around him, it was a constant threat, something that kept him literally looking over his shoulder for months at a time.
A former Marine, he hired himself out as a privately contracted bodyguard in the Middle East, where he lived on the edge and saw and did things so terrible that it haunted him. He survived firefights, ambushes, exploding cars, road mines, snipers and rocket-propelled grenades. In the end, he escaped without any wounds, or at least none we could see.
When he returned, he seemed to be the Dale that his friends remembered — charming, gregarious, warm, outgoing — but inside, he was hurting and disturbed. McIntosh brought demons home with him.
In 2006, I wrote a lengthy profile about McIntosh, then a student at Westminster who took time off from his studies to pursue quick money and an adrenaline fix in Iraq and Afghanistan. This is the postscript: McIntosh took his own life in February in Harlingen, Texas. He was 35
After graduating from Utah State, Dale served five years in the Marines — part of it in special ops — but felt unfulfilled because he never saw action. He compared it to being an athlete who never got in the game. Eager to use his military skills and see action, he signed on to do private security work. At the time, there was a big demand for security firms, the most famous and controversial of which was Blackwater. With a shortage of manpower, the U.S. government hired the firms to protect American interests and personnel in the Middle East. They were largely ungoverned by law, which did not make them popular at home or abroad. McIntosh spent six months in Afghanistan, five months in Iraq, two months in Bosnia and then another two months in Iraq before returning to Utah in the fall of 2005.
Doug Robinson has written at length about his friend Dale. Please read the entire story here
James Vicini Rueters June 4, 2012
Supreme Court on Monday rejected an appeal by four Blackwater Worldwide security guards who argued prosecutors made improper use of their statements to investigators in charging them with killing 14 Iraqi civilians in 2007.
The justices refused to review a ruling by a U.S. appeals court in Washington, D.C., that reinstated the criminal charges against the guards for their roles in the Baghdad shooting that outraged Iraqis and strained ties between the two nations.
The shooting occurred as the guards, U.S. State Department security contractors, escorted a heavily armed four-truck convoy of U.S. diplomats through the Iraqi capital on September 16, 2007.
The guards, U.S. military veterans, responded to a car bombing when gunfire erupted at a busy intersection. The guards told State Department investigators they opened fire in self-defense, but prosecutors said the shooting was an unprovoked attack on civilians.
Several other lawsuits filed by Contractor Employers will expose the extent to which Civilian Contractors were actually working for the CIA and the State Department in capacities that are not known to the public.
It is known that Ronco Consulting has worked for/with the CIA via the State Department .
Blackwater/Academi has banked more than $2 billion from security and training contracts with various federal agencies, including the CIA, since 2002. Several former CIA officials later went to work for the company.
Five ex-Blackwater executives, facing federal firearms charges in connection with a gift of weaponry to a Middle Eastern monarch, have come up with a new explanation for how it occured:
It was a CIA operation.
In court papers filed last month in Raleigh, the defendants say the gift of five guns to King Abdullah II of Jordan during a royal visit to Blackwater’s Moyock, N.C., headquarters in March 2005 was requested, directed and authorized by the Central Intelligence Agency.
Attorneys for the five have filed declarations from two retired CIA officials, including a former Jordan station chief, who say they are familiar with the circumstances of the king’s visit and would be willing to testify about it.
The CIA did not respond to a request for comment.
It’s a new wrinkle in a case that dates to April 2010, when the five security company executives were indicted on a variety of felony firearms charges. One key section of the indictment involved King Abdullah’s 2005 visit to Moyock, during which the monarch was presented a Bushmaster M4 rifle, a Remington shotgun and three Glock handguns.
WHY HAVE I NOT RECEIVED THE DEFENSE OF FREEDOM MEDAL?
The Defense of Freedom Medal is an award held to be the equivalent of the Purple Heart and is awarded to Civilian Contractors injured in the war zones.
One question we get here repeatedly is why have I not received the Defense of Freedom Medal? The question comes from severely disabled Civilian Contractors wounded in horrific explosions and insurgent attacks.
WHO IS HOLDING YOUR MEDAL HOSTAGE?
The company you work for is responsible for requesting that you receive the medal and providing the documentation that you have indeed suffered a qualifying injury.
As all Injured War Zone Contractors know the minute you must file a Defense Base Act Claim you are automatically placed in an adversarial relationship with your employer. Your Employer and the Defense Base Act Insurance Company are considered equal entities in the battle you have entered for your medical care and indemnity.
Your Employer is required to assist the insurance company in denying your claim. Under the War Hazards Act the Employer/Carrier must prove to the WHA Tribunal that they have diligently tried to deny your claim.
It appears that your Defense of Freedom Medals could be held hostage by your Employers due to the adversarial relationship the Defense Base Act has created.
When KBR, DynCorp, Blackwater, Xe, et al, provide documentation of your injuries to the DoD they have just admitted that you are indeed injured and to what extent.
Specific information regarding injury/death: Description of the situation causing the injury/death in detail to include the date, time, place, and scene of the incident, and official medical documentation of the employee’s injuries and treatment. The description must be well documented, including the names of witnesses and point of contact (POC) for additional medical information, if needed.
These admissions sure would make it hard for Administrative Law Judges like Paul C Johnson to name them as alleged. ALJ Paul C Johnson has yet to award benefits to a DBA Claimant in a decision based on a hearing.
KBR who can never seem to find their injured employees medical records holds the key to the Defense of Freedom Medal.
Certainly there are other lawsuits outside of the DBA that the withholding of this information is vital too.
For those of you who still give a damn after being abused by so badly simply because you were injured-
The Defense of Freedom Medal may find you many years down the road once an Administrative Law Judge says you were injured.
We recommend that you contact your Congressional Representative or Senator and have them request this Medal if you qualify for it and would like to have it.
If you are still litigating your claim it SHOULD serve to legitimize your alleged injuries.
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.”
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
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
“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.
by Spencer Ackerman at Wired’s Danger Room December 12, 2011
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.
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.
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
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