NEWS

Blackwater to Move Away from Protection Services

By Matthew Harwood

Blackwater Worldwide, the company synonymous with private security contractors, has told the Associated Press that it will move away from providing protective services and refocus its energies on providing training, aviation, and logistics.

"Security was not part of the master plan, ever," company president Gary Jackson said.

The company, which has been likened to mercenaries by critics and anti-war activists, says the negative media attention it has received due to its services rendered in Iraq, such as diplomatic security and convoy protection, has made it unwise to continue providing protective services at the rate it was.

Jackson said protective services stands as 30 percent of its revenue currently, but he'd like to see it fall to 1 to 2 percent of total revenue.

Erik Prince, the company's founder and CEO, told the AP that, "The experience we've had would certainly be a disincentive to any other companies that want to step in and put their entire business at risk."

Blackwater hit a flashpoint of controversy in September when its security contractors opened fire in Nisoor Square, Baghdad, killing 17 Iraqis. The Justice Department is expected to decide whether it will prosecute a handful of individual Blackwater contractors for their roles in the shootings. Blackwater Worldwide, however, is not under investigation and says it will cooperate with the government's investigation of individual employees if charges are indeed brought, says the AP.

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