State Department fires private security company ending $1.2 billion contract

Blackwater loses their $1.2 billion contract for Iraqi security services.

Washington, D.C. (–Blackwater, a controversial U.S. Security company who provides protection services for United States diplomats in Iraq, was fired the State Department today. The executives of Blackwater were informed by the State Department on Friday their $1.2 billion, five-year Iraq services contract will not be renewed in May 2009.

Iraqi officials refused to license Blackwater to operate in their country. Officials for Iraq cited outrage over the September 2007 shooting of Iraqi civilians by Blackwater guards. The shooting left 17 Iraqi civilians dead. Federal charges have been brought against five former Blackwater guards including 14 counts of manslaughter and 20 counts of attempted manslaughter. No charges were brought against the corporation under the Bush Administration.

The new United States Iraq security agreement allows Iraq to regulate private security companies in their own country. According to Wikipedia, Blackwater Security Consulting (BSC) was formed in 2001 and is a subsidiary of Blackwater USA, now Blackwater Worldwide. The corporate headquarters are in Moycock, North Carolina, and the private military security firm founded by, Erik Prince, has been the subject of several controversies including the September 16, 2007 Baghdad shootings outlined above.

One of the most recent controversies involving Blackwater took place on American soil following Hurricane Katrina. On September 1, 2005, Blackwater sent a rescue team and helicopter to support relief operations reportedly free of charge. It was reported after the “freebie” Blackwater worked under a contract with the Department of Homeland Security to protect government facilities costing the U.S. taxpayers $240,000 a day. Blackwater was awarded this “no-bid’ contract post Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans and their final bill for this contract totaled over $30 million. The heavily armed presence of Blackwater contractors in New Orleans has been the topic of major confusion and criticism. There has been continued question and dispute regarding the “no-bid” government contracts awarded by the Bush Administration post Hurricane Katrina.

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