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Blackwater

NATIONAL
January 1, 2010 | By David G. Savage
A federal judge in Washington on Thursday dismissed criminal charges against five Blackwater security guards accused of killing 17 unarmed Iraqi civilians in an incident that strained U.S.-Iraqi relations and sparked an outcry over the military's use of private contractors. The judge did not rule on the substance of the charges against the security guards, but instead decided that prosecutors had wrongly relied on what the guards told State Department investigators shortly after the incident.
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NATIONAL
December 11, 2009 | Washington Post
Highly trained personnel employed with the private security firm formerly known as Blackwater Worldwide sometimes operated side by side with CIA field officers in Iraq and Afghanistan as the agency undertook missions to kill or capture members of insurgent groups in those countries, according to a former government official and a source familiar with the operations. The actions taken by the private personnel went beyond the protective role specified in a classified Blackwater contract with the CIA and included active participation in raids overseen by CIA or special forces personnel, the sources said.
OPINION
October 22, 2009
This week, a federal judge in Washington is presiding over preliminary hearings in a case in which five employees of the Blackwater security firm are accused of killing 14 Iraqi civilians in 2007. A case involving the U.S. presence in Iraq is of obvious public interest, but if you want to get a seat in the courtroom -- or to read about what goes on there -- don't bother. District Judge Ricardo Urbina has closed the hearings to the public and the media. Urbina's action is an extreme and unjustifiable response to fears about pretrial publicity.
NATIONAL
August 21, 2009 | Greg Miller
The CIA's decision to hire contractors from Blackwater USA for a covert assassination program was part of an expanding relationship in which the agency has relied on the widely criticized firm for tasks including guarding CIA lockups and loading missiles on Predator aircraft, according to current and former U.S. government officials. The 2004 contract cemented what was then a burgeoning relationship with Blackwater, setting the stage for a series of departures by senior CIA officials who took high-level positions with the North Carolina security company.
NATIONAL
August 20, 2009 | Joby Warrick, Warrick writes for the Washington Post.
The secret CIA program to assassinate top Al Qaeda leaders was outsourced in 2004 to Blackwater USA, the private security contractor whose operations in Iraq prompted intense scrutiny, according to two former intelligence officials familiar with the events. The North Carolina-based company was given operational responsibility for targeting suspected terrorist commanders and was awarded millions of dollars for training and weaponry, but the program was canceled before any missions were conducted, the two officials said.
WORLD
August 13, 2009 | David Zucchino
Mirza Mohammed Dost stood at the foot of his son's grave, near a headstone that read, "Raheb Dost, martyred by Americans." His son was no insurgent, Dost said. He was walking home from prayers on the night of May 5 when he was shot and killed on a busy Kabul street by U.S. security contractors. "The Americans must answer for my son's death," Dost said as a large crowd of young men murmured in approval. The shooting deaths of Raheb Dost, 24, and another Afghan civilian by four gunmen with the company once known as Blackwater have turned an entire neighborhood against the U.S. presence here.
WORLD
May 20, 2009 | Associated Press
Four U.S. contractors for the company formerly known as Blackwater were not authorized to carry weapons when they were involved in a deadly shooting in Afghanistan this month, the U.S. military said Tuesday. The men -- accused of opening fire May 5 on a vehicle in the capital -- have charged that their employer, now called Xe, issued them guns in breach of the company's contract with the military. One Afghan was killed in the shooting, and two others were wounded.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
April 2, 2009 | Tony Perry
A fourth lawsuit has been filed in federal court against the former Blackwater Worldwide security firm on behalf of family members of Iraqis allegedly killed by Blackwater guards. The lawsuit alleges that three Blackwater guards on a rooftop killed three guards for the Iraqi Media Network and that 20 other Blackwater employees refused to cooperate with Iraqi officials investigating the Feb. 7, 2007, shooting. North Carolina-based Blackwater has changed its name to Xe. The lawsuit was filed in San Diego because Xe operates two training facilities there, lawyers said.
WORLD
March 21, 2009 | Tony Perry
Lawyers for the widow and young sons of an Iraqi man allegedly killed by a drunken employee of the former Blackwater Worldwide security firm after a Christmas Eve party in Baghdad have filed a damage suit in federal court in San Diego. The suit alleges that the employee got lost after the 2006 party and, after confronting Raheem Khalaf Saadoon, shot him for no reason. Saadoon, 32, was a bodyguard for an Iraqi vice president.
BUSINESS
February 14, 2009 | Associated Press
Blackwater Worldwide is still protecting U.S. diplomats in Iraq, but executives at the beleaguered security firm are taking their biggest step yet to put that work and the ugly reputation it earned the company behind them. Blackwater said Friday that it would no longer operate under the name that came to be known worldwide as a caustic moniker for private security, dropping the tarnished brand for a disarming and simple identity: Xe, which is pronounced like the letter "z."
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