Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Blackwater (Xe) trained Canadian troops

Apparently legal problems and human rights issues count for nothing when awarding contracts. If Canadian troops learned from Blackwater then they learned that all that counts is protection of your client. The citizens of the country you are occupying don't count. If they don't scatter fast enough just shoot them because that makes sure your clients are safe.
It seems this company has enough connections and cheerleaders that it does not matter much about its legal and human rights problems. Canada has done its bit to support the profits of private contractors that are part of the military industrial complex. This is from the National Post.

Blackwater trained our troops
Defence spent more than $6M at controversial U.S. security firm

Tom Blackwell, National Post

The department sent a succession of personnel to Blackwater's Moyock, N.C., training compound from 2005 to as recently as April 2009, some of them learning tactics for working in dangerous settings, records obtained through access-to-information legislation indicate.

The work continued even after the U.S. State Department cancelled its pricey security contract with the company in Iraq amid mounting criticism of Blackwater's actions.

The training courses included defensive driving and "close protection" in hostile environments, as well as specialized weapons use, a DND spokesman said.

The U.S. firm was judged to be the best bidder in tenders put out for the work, and controversy associated with other aspects of its business would not have come into play, Major Vance White said.

"We require some sort of specialized training ... and if that company wins the contract, then they've obviously proven they can provide the training we need," he said. "What they might do in another part of their company doesn't detract from the fact that they have capacity to provide excellent training."

Despite its notoriety, in fact, Blackwater, recently renamed Xe Services, has been called the "Cadillac" of security training outfits.

One critic, however, called the contracts "appalling" and said the government should be prohibited from doing business with the company, or any others accused of serious human-rights abuses.

"This group is akin to a bunch of gangsters or mercenaries," charged Steven Staples, president for the liberal-minded Rideau Institute. "I would have to really question what the military thinks it can learn from an organization like Blackwater: How to kill civilians? How to operate outside the law? How to bilk taxpayers?"

Blackwater is the most contentious example of a recent trend in many countries to contract out services traditionally performed by military and other government security forces.

Though it started as a training centre for police officers and soldiers, the firm earned more than a billion dollars in the past several years by providing protection to U.S. diplomats in Iraq and Afghanistan. Some detractors portray its overseas staff as a de facto private army, while others praise the guards' aggressive safeguarding of American officials.

Blackwater employees eventually were accused of indiscriminately harming civilians in the course of that work, allegations that came to the fore with the killing of 17 Iraqis during a 2007 incident in Baghdad. U.S. authorities charged five of the guards involved with manslaughter in 2008, though a judge threw out the charges this past December. Days later, however, the Justice Department charged two employees for a Blackwater subsidiary with murder in a 2009 Kabul shooting that left two Afghans dead.

The State Department cancelled the Iraq close-protection contract in January 2009.

Four senior Blackwater executives were charged this month with weapons offences. Two former employees accused Blackwater in court documents of chronic billing fraud; a U.S. government auditor concluded last year the firm had been overpaid $55-million by the State Department.

An access-to-information request submitted last fall to Canada's National Defence Department for the previous five years of "call-ups" -- contracts under a standing order for services -- elicited a string of transactions from late 2005 until April 2009.

Maj. White said he did not know if the department was continuing to deal with Blackwater today. The censored documents contained little information about the services provided, other than references to training and accommodation at the Blackwater headquarters.

There were also small contracts for equipment, such as rental of pistols and "carbines" and purchase of ammunition for the guns. Individual call-ups ranged from less than $100 to just over $1-million, totalling about US $6-million.

In 2007, an official with the U.S. Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association told The Washington Post that Blackwater was considered the Cadillac of training services. "You've got the best of the best teaching close-quarter-combat tactics," he said.

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