February 27, 2009



Blackwater metamorphosed

by Jim Hightower

Blackwater USA, the infamous outfit of corporate mercenaries that became a worldwide symbol of George W’s imperious war in Iraq, is gone. Not merely gone from Iraq, but entirely gone. Kaput. Blackwater itself is no more.

Unfortunately, it’s gone in name only. Blackwater’s privatized army that mired itself in scandal after scandal still exists, but it has “rebranded” itself with a new moniker. Henceforth, the corporation formerly known as Blackwater is to be called Xe. That’s spelled x-e, but is pronounced “z,” which rhymes with “whee” — as in, "Whee! We got rid of that contaminated name, so maybe no one will remember the stuff we did!"

Good luck with that. By whatever name, the company remains the target of four grand jury investigations in our country. It stands accused of tax fraud, improper use of force, arms trafficking and over-billing taxpayers. It was fired from its security job with the state department in January, and Iraq’s government has since booted it out of that country entirely. (It seems there is still a bit of resentment by Iraqis over that 2007 incident in which Blackwater guards gunned down 17 unarmed civilians.)

Nonetheless, the corporation’s executives hope that the tiny, exotic name of Xe will be big enough to hide its notorious past behind it. However, without a change in its corporate culture of anything goes, I’m guessing the world will be able to see right through the rebranding ploy. After all, it’ll still be a for-hire army with profit as its motivating ethic.

By the way, I looked up Xe in the dictionary. It’s a chemical symbol for xenon, which is defined as “a heavy, colorless, chemically inactive, monatomic gaseous element present in the atmosphere — used to fill luminescent tubes.” So Blackwater is born again as a gaseous element.

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