Blackwater USA

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Blackwater was a private military corporation renamed as Xe Services LLC in February 2009.


The presence of mercenaries in Iraq first received widespread notice after scenes of the gruesome deaths of four Blackwater hired guns in Fallujah were televised worldwide. Blackwater is a Moyock, N.C. based "security consulting" firm founded in 1996 by former Navy SEAL Erik Prince. The company, according to the LA Times, has "the largest private military base in the world, a fleet of 20 aircraft and 20,000 soldiers at the ready"[1].

In 2002, the company won a five year navy contract worth $35.7 million to train ten thousand navy personnel in seizing ships. More recently it won a $21 million contract with the Pentagon in Iraq to provide personal security detail for CPA head Paul Bremer and other high-level officials, besides its numerous other private ones. The company had reportedly grown 600 percent since the beginning of the war. The firm charges its clients $1,500 to $2,000 a day for each mercenary.

Blackwater mostly recruits from the ranks of active-duty American special-forces units some of whom earn salaries that run as high as $1,000 a day. In March 2004, it hired 60 former Chilean commandos at a monthly salary of $4,000. May South Africans are also on its payroll. Armed with weapons ranging from M4 rifles to 20mm cannon on its helicopters, its men have engaged in active combat - sometimes with regular US forces.

Blackwater mercenaries are notorious for their gung ho attitude and their mistreatment of Iraqis. Even the military seems to be concerned about their behavior, since they are invariably seen as part of the occupying army. Robert Fisk reported on their behavior in the Independent as follows:

Blackwater's thugs with guns now push and punch Iraqis who get in their way: Kurdish journalists twice walked out of a Bremer press conference because of their mistreatment by these men. Baghdad is alive with mysterious Westerners draped with hardware, shouting and abusing Iraqis in the street, drinking heavily in the city's poorly defended hotels. They have become, for ordinary Iraqis, the image of everything that is wrong with the West. We like to call them "contractors", but there is a disturbing increase in reports that mercenaries are shooting down innocent Iraqis with total impunity.

The firm drew attention again, when it was revealed in the Observer that a memo to its staff in Iraq stated that 'actually it is 'fun' to shoot some people.'

Blackwater also offers a psychological counseling programme to combat PTSD.

Secret contracts

Blackwater has a number of classified CIA contracts, according to the New York Times. In 2002, it won a classified contract to protect the CIA station in Kabul, Afghanistan.[2]

Assassination programme

In 2004 the CIA hired Blackwater as part of a programme to assassinate top Al Qaeda figures.[3]

The role of an outside contractor was one reason why incoming CIA director Leon E. Panetta sought a meeting in June 2009 to tell Congress about the programme.[4]


References, Resources and Contact

See Also



  1. Jeremy Scahill, Our Mercenaries in Iraq, Los Angeles Times, 25 January 2007.
  2. Mark Mazzetti, C.I.A. Sought Blackwater’s Help to Kill Jihadists, New York Times, 19 August 2009.
  3. Mark Mazzetti, C.I.A. Sought Blackwater’s Help to Kill Jihadists, New York Times, 19 August 2009.
  4. Mark Mazzetti, C.I.A. Sought Blackwater’s Help to Kill Jihadists, New York Times, 19 August 2009.
  5. Blackwater, Cofer Black, accessed 23 august 20-09