Blackwater Rebranded ‘Academi’ Wants Back in Iraq

Say goodbye to Xe. The company formerly known as Blackwater — the world’s most infamous private security corporation — has jettisoned the name it chose in its 2009 rebrand and adopted the new name of “Academi.”

The “security solutions provider” wants to wash away the taint of what came to be known as the Blackwater Baghdad shootings. In September 2007 Blackwater personnel opened fire at Nisour Square in Baghdad resulting in the deaths of 17 civilians.

All in all between 2005 and September 2007, Blackwater employees were involved in 195 shooting incidents, most of which saw Blackwater operatives firing first.

The company has also been repeatedly accused of smuggling arms into Iraq.

But the company is changing its name — not its core business. And it even wants back into the country where it ran its brand through the mud: Iraq.

Our focus is on training and security services. We’re continuing that,” new CEO Ted Wright tells Danger Room. “We’re not backing away from security services. The lion’s share of our business today is providing training for security services and [providing] security services.

A consortium of investors close to the family of founder Erik Prince bought the company in late 2010, and spent 2011 putting together its new leadership team. It brought on board former Attorney General John Ashcroft, Bill Clinton consigliere Jack Quinn and Suzanne Folsom from the insurance giant AIG. Wright came from military-services giant KBR. Notice a pattern? All have deep experience with crisis management.

Notice another pattern: All of those hires either worked in senior government positions or worked closely with those who did. That signals confidence in the company’s traditional business — getting big government contracts to protect diplomats, aid workers and even the military in dangerous places. On its new website, Academi says providing “stability and protection to people and locations experiencing turmoil” is its “core” business. New name, same wheelhouse.

Wright acknowledges that rebranding the world’s most infamous security company might seem like an exercise in cynicism. And so he sets himself a challenge: getting the company back into Iraq.

As we make changes and they take root and we convince everyone they’re real,” Wright says, “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.

Source: Voltaire Network

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2 Comments

  1. Michael T Stowers

    Good highlighting this Andre. (-:

  2. I personally think the al-Maliki government would have no problem allowing a rebranded Blackwater back into Iraq if (1) it perceived it could be bent to serve the government and prevent its overthrow by oppositionists, and (2) if the decision could be sold to the Iraqi people. However, neither situation is likely to prevail. If Blackwater/Academi were allowed back in, the agency would be far more likely to serve the U.S. government’s interest in getting Ayad Allawi back in power – he’s still there, and things did not turn out at all the way the U.S. originally intended. The best probability for getting things back on track the way the U.S. would prefer would be to get an Allawi government installed. And the memory of Blackwater’s trigger-happy “crowd control” practices is still too fresh in the minds of Iraqis. I don’t doubt the attempt is being made, but absent the two conditions I mentioned earlier, I can’t see it happening unless al-Maliki is a bigger fool than he appears.

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