Blackwater, Already On The Ground In Afghanistan, Now Gunning For More Contracts

December 21, 2009 7:23 a.m.

It looks like the Obama Administration just can’t quit the company formerly known as Blackwater.

A Xe official told the Commission on Wartime Contracting Friday that the company has contracts for security as well as for training Afghan police and a “drug interdiction unit.” Xe is also in the running for more work in Afghanistan. The comments of Xe Vice President Fred Roitz were first reported by the Virginia Pilot.

It’s been a difficult year for Xe, with several former guards facing manslaughter charges over the shootings in Baghdad’s Nisour Square that left 17 civilians dead, and company founder Erik Prince declaring he plans to leave the business.The State Department dropped a big security contract with Blackwater for Iraq, and the CIA reportedly axed a secret deal for Xe to load missiles onto U.S. drones in Pakistan.

Now, the Pilot reports on the potentially expanding role Xe will play for the Defense Department in Afghanistan:

Xe also is one of five pre-qualified companies competing for a new Defense Department contract to train the Afghan national police. …

The police training contract for which Xe is in the running had been run by the State Department but is being shifted to the Defense Department’s Counter-Narcoterrorism Technology Program Office.

It’s also worth noting here that, as a senator, Hillary Clinton lashed out against “mercenaries” like Blackwater in Iraq, saying in 2007, “The time to show these contractors the door is long past due.” And during the transition, President Obama pledged to “establish the legal status of contractor personnel, making possible prosecution of any abuses committed by private military contract.”

While the Pilot reports that, in addition to training, Xe is doing security work in Afghanistan, we can’t find evidence of that in the hearing transcript.*

We’re trying to find out more on what Xe is doing in Afghanistan, and as soon as we have, we’ll let you know.

*Late Update: The Pilot was correct on this point. Roitz told the commission that “We do both training and security in Afghanistan.”

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