Mercenary ambassadors

U.S. integrity depends on severing ties with corporate mercenaries.

Blackwater, the controversial private military contractor, which now operates under the conveniently forgettable moniker âÄúXe Services,âÄù has been grabbing headlines again. Their checkered past includes, massive no-bid contracts from the U.S. government, a 2005 incident in which employees fired 70 rounds into an occupied car without provocation and the shooting of 14 unarmed Iraqi civilians in 2007. In spite of such grave and blatant violations, U.S. authorities have repeatedly made excuses on BlackwaterâÄôs behalf, allowing reckless hired guns to evade justice. Last week, IraqâÄôs interior minister ordered 250 former Blackwater employees to leave the country, citing the 2007 shooting. The U.S. Department of Justice is now investigating whether Blackwater bribed Iraqi officials to keep the shooting from jeopardizing contracts. In addition, two former Blackwater employees have claimed the company is systematically defrauding the U.S. government through practices like double billing and charging for the services of prostitutes âÄî euphemistically recorded as âÄúMorale Welfare RecreationâÄù employees. An audit also found that the Department of State overpaid Blackwater $55 million with only a flimsy attempt at justification. Now, unbelievably, Xe Services is up for a new Pentagon contract worth $1 billion for training AfghanistanâÄôs police forces. The United States needs to permanently cut its ties with this organization that fans the flames of anti-Americanism, uses force inappropriately and excessively and defrauds the American people. We can ill afford to have this ambassador represent our nation.