December 14, 2011
A notorious US private security contractor formerly known as Blackwater has once again changed its name and is claiming that the changes run deeper than just the name and logo.
On Monday the company previously known as Blackwater and then Xe Services announced that from now on it will go under the name of Academi.
“The name Academi was selected to better communicate the new company’s focus on future growth,” the company website reads.
Academi, one of the three largest US State Department private security contractors, has been involved in several major scandals in Iraq since it received its first contracts there in 2003.
The most serious incident 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.
Joseph Fitsanakis from the Security and Intelligence Studies program thinks that by changing its name again the company is “trying to blur its institutional image through a series of corporate renamings,” which is a common tactic used by corporations.
Another reason for changing its name, Fitsanakis says, is the company’s intention to disassociate itself from the CIA in order to become more attractive for non-American clients.
He also says that now that US troops are withdrawing from Iraq, the company will try to win contracts in this market.
“They will certainly try to do that. Iraq is a lucrative market for Blackwater/Academi. It is going to be difficult particularly in Iraq because of the murky past of the organization there.”
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