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Posted at 9:41 PM ET, 06/27/2010

Blackwater plunged into controversy again

By Jeff Stein

Even as CIA Director Leon Panetta gave the security contractor formerly known as Blackwater a clean bill of health on Sunday, the firm was plunged into a new controversy over its past dealings, this time in Sudan.

According to McClatchy Newspapers, Blackwater, which changed its name to Xe Services last year, “tried for two years to secure lucrative defense business in southern Sudan while the country was under U.S. economic sanctions” in 2006-2007.

“The effort to drum up new business in East Africa by Blackwater owner Erik Prince, a former Navy SEAL who had close ties with top officials in President George W. Bush's White House and the CIA, became a major element in a continuing four-year federal investigation into allegations of sanctions violations, illegal exports and bribery,” the news organization reported, citing “current and former U.S. officials and hundreds of pages of documents.”

“The focus on Sudan was part of a broader federal probe of Blackwater that began in 2006 and also examined the alleged bribery of foreign officials in Jordan, Iraq and Sudan and the alleged illegal exports of rifles, silencers and other military hardware to the Middle East, some of it hidden in pallets of dog food,” the news organization said.

Rather than bring criminal charges against the firm or Prince, McClatchy added, “the government and the private military contractor are negotiating a multimillion-dollar fine to settle allegations that Blackwater violated U.S. export control regulations in Sudan, Iraq and elsewhere.”

A spokesman for Prince, who stepped down as chief executive officer of Xe last year but remains chairman of its parent group, did not immediately respond to SpyTalk’s requests for comment on Sunday.

But Joseph M. Yorio, who was recruited from outside early last year to succeed Prince and bring in new management, said that the firm “has fully cooperated with all government inquiries and investigations.”

“Xe looks forward to resolving all pending issues in a manner that will allow it to continue to serve the U.S. government's mission,” Yorio said in an e-mail.

Meanwhile, Panetta confirmed SpyTalk’s revelation last week that the agency had awarded Xe a new contract to provide guard services for CIA facilities in Afghanistan and elsewhere.

The firm has "shaped up" under new management, Panetta told ABC’s Jake Tapper.

The CIA director added that Xe had underbid competitors by “about $26 million,” for a contract that SpyTalk’s sources pegged at $100 million.

At the same time Panetta, a former Clinton White House chief of staff and California congressman, implied that no other firm was qualified for the job.

“We've got a lot of forward bases. We've got a lot of attacks on some of those bases. We've got to have security. Unfortunately, there are a few companies that provide that kind of security,” Panetta said. “The State Department relies on them. We rely on them to a certain extent.”

Last week the State Department awarded Xe a $120 million contract to guard new consulates under construction in Afghanistan, a deal that drew sharp criticism from members of the federal Commission on Wartime Contracting.

Panetta told Tapper that a CIA panel had concluded that Xe had "shaped up their act. So there really was not much choice but to accept that contract."

“But having said that,” he added, “I will tell you that I continue to be very cautious about any of those contracts, and we're reviewing all of the bids that we have with that company.”

Xe was put up for sale this spring.

Last week, Prince said he was leaving U.S. government business entirely.

“After three-and-a-half years of an assault by some of the bureaucracy, a sort of proctology exam brought on by some in Congress," Prince said on CNBC last week, "it’s time to hang it up, because some in Washington view politics more important than performance in the field.”

By Jeff Stein  | June 27, 2010; 9:41 PM ET
Categories:  Financial/business, Intelligence, Justice/FBI  
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Xe is like "Army of Two", the Xbox video game, and just makes this all look so harmless, but it is not at all, cause this is the real world events of life and death.

I wish Xe would take over our U.S. Borders, or at least Coast Guard take over all customs and immigration in the United States, and the USAF take over all TSA duties and bring back the military draft.

We need to get rid of the civilian law enforcement, cause they have created nepotism at a whole new extreme low of dishonesty, disloyalty, and lacking of integrity that gives a whole new scary meaning to organized embarrassment.

This is a serious issue that only the disciplines of the military handle with ease, but civilians stress over and make an illegal racket of it. This is not at all good for our National Security, but a National Security issue; a snake in the grass eating it's tail.

Many of the civilian Homeland Security and TSA employees despise to almost borderline hate federal law enforcement and authorities in general -i.e. especially here in small towns like Brownsville Texas and all of Maine, but on all the U.S. borders as well.

Weak links in the chain like this will be the cannon fodder of a global nightmare soon to come. Civilians are unable to properly perform do to lacking proper self motivation skills, and self disciplines the Military installs everyday, as a natural.

--It's a time bomb waiting ticking away about to strike 12-midnight and is one of the primary reasons I am leaving the east coast to the rocky mountains. This problem is far deeper and far more sensitive then is published and or addressed, obviously. What is the quick fix? This can only be addressed with changing it all over to the US.DOD USAF and USCG.

Xe and the CIA play ball very well together, but remember "we need you Xe type people here too in the United States, cause the military is not manpower enough yet to fit the shoe, so get on over here and help Secure our Nations borders, please."

"Life is a box of chocolates for the uninformed. So, Be Safe, and Be Alert. Either you are with us, or against us".

Shawn Earnest
Madawaska Maine.04756
An Aspiring Fictional Writer.

Posted by: Predator-Hunter | June 28, 2010 7:52 AM | Report abuse

Naivety and cowardice (character traits of well-intentioned statist liberals, it appears) combined enable the subversion of the rule of law by the hard-right tyrants within. Given Blackwater-Xe's transgressions, why not choose to rely on the U.S. military, the Marines in particular, as in years past? Ironically, Panetta as well as his boss may be the unknowing victims of covert high-tech "entrainment" by what Eisenhower termed the Military-Industrial Complex: OR (see lede stories and links therein)

Posted by: scrivener50 | June 28, 2010 2:03 PM | Report abuse

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