edition.cnn.com, August 8, 2009
Rep. Jan Schakowsky, D-Illinois, on Friday urged the State Department "not to enter into further contracts" with Xe.
Rep. Jan Schakowsky, D-Illinois, asked Secretary of State Hillary Clinton whether the State Department had just signed a new $20 million dollar contract with Xe for Iraq, saying she is "very concerned" that the State Department may be signing new security contracts with Xe, both in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The State Department decided in January not to renew a personnel protection contract with Blackwater, as the company was then known, when it expired in May. That decision came amidst an investigation by both U.S. and Iraqi authorities of a 2007 shooting involving Blackwater guards in Baghdad in which 17 Iraqis were killed. The company has repeatedly denied any wrong-doing.
The State Department did not immediately respond to a request Friday for reaction to Schakowsky's questions and criticism. The State Department had said that it would continue a Blackwater air-support contract after the much-larger personnel protection contract ended.
Xe spokeswoman Stacy DeLuke told CNN that, "Right now we have no contracts with the State Department in Iraq."
DeLuke said the company would review calls for bids to provide security for U.S. officials in Afghanistan.
The Nation magazine released an article Friday that said the State Department had signed a new contract for Iraq with Xe for $20 million to extend an earlier aviation contract.
The controversy over the role of Blackwater in Iraq was revived earlier this week by a lawsuit filed in Virginia by two former employees accusing Blackwater guards of smuggling weapons and using excessive force in Iraq. And the lawsuit claims Blackwater founder Erik Prince
Xe said in a statement that it would respond
Blackwater changed its name to Xe in February....