Blackwater–the notorious mercenary firm formed by West Michigan native Erik Prince–has been awarded a new $22.2 million contract. That contract will keep Blackwater–which the Iraqi government has determined can no longer legally operate in Iraq–until September of this year. According to the contract, Blackwater will provide “security personnel.”
Another contract uncovered by Jeremy Scahill–who wrote a definitive book on Blackwater–indicated that Blackwater recently received $45 million from the U.S. government for “protective services–Iraq.” That contract has an estimated “Ultimate Completion Date” of 05/07/2011.
Clearly, both contracts raise major questions about Iraqi sovereignty and the extent to which the United States takes seriously the Iraqis wishes.
Blackwater recently announced that it is changing its name to “Xe” in an effort to improve its reputation. For several years, the company has been the target of negative publicity for its work in Iraq. This criticism reached its culmination with the September 2007 shooting deaths of 17 civilians at the hands of Blackwater contractors.
Since then, the Iraqi government has greatly restricted Blackwater’s capacity to operate in Iraq. It has denied the company a license to work in the country, which is a result of widespread Iraqi opposition to the contractor’s presence.