iOS app Android app More

ZP Heller

ZP Heller

Posted February 16, 2009 | 05:45 PM (EST)

Blackwater by Any Other Name Would Still Smell Like Shit


Blackwater Worldwide, the ultimate mercenary firm and war profiteer, wants to shed its vile brand name, according to the Associated Press. They're switching over to the name Xe (like in the words xenophobia or xenobiotic, which fittingly refers to a chemical substance that is foreign and usually harmful to living organisms). The funny part is Blackwater claims the name change is to "focus away from the business of providing private security." You don't say!

This falls under the you-can't-fire-me-I-quit school of logic, considering the Iraqi government recently labeled Blackwater "criminals" and banned the private contractor over the 2007 Nisour Square shooting in Baghdad that killed 17 civilians. That prompted the US State Department to declare it wouldn't renew Blackwater's contract to protect diplomats after it expires this May; the State Dept also announced it would scrutinize Blackwater's conduct in Afghanistan.

This falls under the you-can't-fire-me-I-quit school of logic, considering the Iraqi government recently labeled Blackwater "criminals" and banned the private contractor over the 2007 Nisour Square shooting in Baghdad that killed 17 civilians. That prompted the US State Department to declare it wouldn't renew Blackwater's contract to protect diplomats after it expires this May; the State Dept also announced it would scrutinize Blackwater's conduct in Afghanistan.

Maybe Blackwater thinks that by changing their name they can distance themselves from the manslaughter charges facing five Blackwater guards involved in the Nisour Square shooting. Maybe they think it will help them escape accountability for the 2006 Christmas Eve killing of a bodyguard to the Iraqi vice president inside the Green Zone, or any of the other controversies that have dogged them over the years. What's clear is that Blackwater wants to reinvent themselves in order to move into the business of chasing Somali pirates and intelligence gathering under their private CIA venture called Total Intelligence Solutions, as The Nation's Jeremy Scahill has suggested. And yes, I said business, since Blackwater took over $1.3 billion in private contracts from Iraq when all was said and done, despite all their heinous crimes over the years.

I always thought Blackwater was a fitting name for the shadow army that has long slipped between the legal cracks, operating as a State Department contractor that cannot be easily prosecuted under military law. Looks like I'll have to add "Xe" to my Google alerts to keep up with their criminal behavior.