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.

--Dana Hedgpeth

By Sara Goo |  February 17, 2009; 12:50 PM ET Contract workers , iraq
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Please email us to report offensive comments.

Under whatever name Blackwater is nothing but a bunch of juvenile gun lovers who would like to take their guns to bed. They are war profiteers and live for unrest anywhere in the world. There is no place for these types in America. They're mercenaries trying to pass a businessmen. Most need to simply grow up and stash their "toys"

Posted by: Doubtom | February 18, 2009 11:16 AM

People change names for various reasons, many of them to hide or coverup. Xe or Blackwater, whatever, will always be synonymous with duplicity and clumsiness, coated with the truth that every contract obtained was obtained fraudulently by means of POLITICAL INFLUENCE. The contracts are way over priced and are almost Ponzi schemed. What a waste of our taxpayer dollars. What a shame on the Cheneys & Rumsfeld's that perpetuated them. We must move away from this dangerous trend of hiring these mercenaries and refind a more sane method coupled with accountability.

Posted by: SpinmeisterOuting | February 18, 2009 11:17 AM

So Anne Tyrrell spokeswoman for Xe (formerly Blackwater) says:

"The idea is to define the company as what it is today and not what it used to be." And, "We've taken the company to a place where it is no longer accurately described as Blackwater,"

Now what in the world is this supposed to mean?! She goes on to state;

"There is no meaning to the new name. It was just a choice of a name, we thought of it internally."

Just what in tarnation DOES Blackwater (I mean Xe) stand for then? It's actions seem to indicate that what it stands for is oppression at the hands of the highest bidder. But Ms. Tyrrell is more than welcome to clarify.

Posted by: serf-o-rama | February 18, 2009 1:45 PM

Thank you for speaking out about what many Americans, like me, already know. Blackwater henchmen went out and killed a bunch of people and called it "war." There is another word for that..."Murder."

War Profiteering is a mild description for what Blackwater (Xe) has done. The politicians and lawmakers who have aided and abetted them are guilty, too. I have to believe justice will prevail against these monsters.

I regret that this group is still in their killing schemes, calling it "business." How disgusting.

Posted by: mtnsopranoaiyahoocom | February 20, 2009 1:48 PM

Lighten up, guys. When I was a boy I used to periodically rename my toy soldiers, too.

Posted by: Nebreklaw01 | February 24, 2009 12:49 PM

Nothing new here. Former Fed. contractor with problems, KPMG, resurfaced as Bearing Point, which is currently having financial problems, and will probably reemerge under yet another name. (See WP aticle RE Bearing Point.) As Arthur-Andersen, after getting caught up in the Enron mess, resurfaced as Accenture. So now Blackwater wants to escape the reputation it's earned in Iraq, and becomes "Xe." So what's new?

Posted by: NanaX3 | February 24, 2009 1:53 PM

Arthur Anderson split off it's consulting division named Anderson Consulting, which renamed itself Accenture shortly before the Enron mess.

Arthur Anderson is gone.

Thank you, Kenny Boy and Enron

Xe will always be Blackwater to us.

Posted by: vigor | February 24, 2009 2:10 PM

If my company was as tainted as Blackwater, I'd change the name too. We must all remember to connect the Blackwater crimes with the Xe crimes as they start to happen....

Posted by: Bikerdude | February 24, 2009 2:19 PM

Lipstick on Sarah Palin!


Condoleeza on the Exxon Valdez!!


Posted by: bs2004 | February 24, 2009 5:09 PM

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