Sunday, January 10, 2010

Blackwater Wants $1 Billion to Train the New Afghan Police Force

by Jason Rosenbaum

That's right. $1 billion:

Blackwater Worldwide's legal woes haven't dimmed the company's prospects in Afghanistan, where it's a contender to be a key part of President Barack Obama's strategy for stabilizing the country.

Now called Xe Services, the company is in the running for a Pentagon contract potentially worth $1 billion to train Afghanistan's troubled national police force. Xe has been shifting to training, aviation and logistics work after its security guards were accused of killing unarmed Iraqi civilians more than two years ago.

Yet even with a new name and focus, the expanded role would seem an unlikely one for Xe because Democrats have held such a negative opinion of the company following the Iraqi deaths, which are still reverberating in Baghdad and Washington.

Blackwater was basically kicked out of Iraq for wantonly killing civilians in Baghdad while providing "security" for the State Department in 2007. Even though a US court failed to bring them to justice, Iraq is still pursuing the case and has so little trust in Blackwater or the people it hires that the government has explicitly said former Blackwater employees are not welcome in the country.

American forces are already on thin ice with the Afghan populace because we're killing civilians left and right with, among other things, our drones. Now Blackwater, mercenaries known around the world for their brutality, might get the contract to train the Afghan police? In what world does this seem like a good idea?

It very well may be impossible to train a functioning Afghan police force, especially on the timeline the administration wants. Any incidents with Blackwater employees in Afghanistan would only make the situation worse, and I'm fairly sure the Afghan people don't want their new police force trained in Blackwater techniques anyway, given their history.

If Blackwater gets this contract, which hopefully they will not, I can only see more anger from the Afghan people directed at America in the future.

© 2010 Firedoglake.com

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