US Mercenaries Aim to March Back into Iraq

Blackwater Inc., now named "Academi," is vying to work again as mercenary security forces in Iraq

The mercenary company formerly known as Blackwater Inc. is again vying for security contracts with the U.S. and Iraqi governments to re-enter Iraq, after high profile abuses tarnished their name.

“As we make changes and they take root and we convince everyone they’re real,” new CEO Ted Wright told Wired’s Danger Room, “then the real proof in the pudding is convincing the government of Iraq and the U.S. government to let us do business in Iraq.”

Trying to escape association with such past incidents as the 2007 Nisour Square massacre, wherein Blackwater soldiers killed 17 Iraqi civilians, Blackwater Inc. had changed its name to Xe Services. Now, engaged in yet another re-branding attempt, the name has been changed again to “Academi.”

Danger Room’s Spencer Ackerman writes that the new name and a shift of focus is “part of convincing everyone that the company has turned over an ethical leaf” and that new CEO “Wright promises ‘accountability and openness’ over the company’s actions. Translation: no more stealing guns, coked-up warzone parties, or killing civilians.”

“A consortium of investors close to the family of founder Erik Prince bought the company in late 2010,” writes Ackerman, “and spent 2011 putting together its new leadership team,” which includes the likes of “former Attorney General John Ashcroft, Bill Clinton consigliere Jack Quinn and Suzanne Folsom from the insurance giant AIG.”

Academi is now working hard for a new business license to again work as mercenary security forces in Iraq. Its previous license under Blackwater Inc. was taken away after the Nisour Square massacre. As almost all U.S. troops leave, private security firms are filling those gaps, and Blackwater may soon have its chance again in Iraq.

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Author: John Glaser

John Glaser writes for Antiwar.com.