Behind the Blackwater Name Change
Don't say Blackwater anymore.
The Moyock, N.C.-based private security company that became well known for its work in Iraq and Afghanistan is now known as Xe (pronounced like the letter Z).
After a yearlong search conducted internally for a new name, the company's executives picked Xe, according to Anne Tyrrell, a company spokeswoman. She said there's no meaning behind the name, but those of you who remember your periodic table will recall that Xe is the chemical symbol for xenon, a gas found in the atmosphere.
Blackwater has become well known over the years as one of several security companies with a lucrative contract to provide security for the State Department in Afghanistan and Iraq. The company, founded by Erik Prince, a former Navy SEAL and heir to an industrial fortune, sits on 7,000 sprawling acres near Norfolk. It was named for the dark, brackish water on the land, near the Great Dismal Swamp.
Its logo - a bear claw in a rifle scope - alluded to the nearly 100 black bears that Prince said were on the property in an interview with The Washington Post two years ago on his campus. But the company has become known for its troubles too. In 2004, insurgents in Fallujah ambushed four of its guards. On Sept. 16, 2007, during a chaotic confrontation in downtown Baghdad, Blackwater contractors allegedly shot and killed 17 Iraqis in a crowded square. That incident lead to congressional inquiries and protests that it be removed from the country.
The company wants to put that all behind it.
Gary Jackson, president of the new company, in a memo to employees, "Xe will be a one-stop shopping source for world class services in the fields of security, stability, aviation, training and logistics."
The dozen or so subsidiaries that are part of the Blackwater family of company's have cut out the name reference, too. It sounds like Blackwater's name is getting buried in the swamplands around it.
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