- The Washington Times - Wednesday, April 1, 2009

WASHINGTON (AP) - The State Department said Wednesday it has signed the Virginia-based private security firm Triple Canopy to take over protecting U.S. diplomats on the ground in Iraq from Blackwater Worldwide, now known as Xe.

Blackwater, which earlier this year changed its name to Xe (pronounced “Zee”), had come under heavy criticism for its alleged role in a fatal gun battle in Iraq. The Iraqi government refused to renew the firm’s license to operate in the country.

State Department spokesman Gordon Duguid said the government gave the job to Triple Canopy on Tuesday following a decision made in January not to renew Blackwater’s contract.

“The department awarded Triple Canopy the ground task order for protective security details in Baghdad after a thorough evaluation of proposals from each company that had submitted bids,” Duguid told reporters.

He said the transition between Triple Canopy and Xe would begin immediately but that Xe’s contract does not expire until May.

Duguid could not immediately provide details about the amount of Triple Canopy’s contract or its duration, although he said the task order includes only ground protection. He said the department had not yet determined how to handle replacing the air support that Blackwater had been providing for U.S. diplomats in Iraq.

Triple Canopy, based in Herndon, Va., is one of three private companies, along with North Carolina-based Xe and Virginia-based Dyncorp, that have handled security for U.S. diplomats in Iraq.

The State Department informed Xe on Jan. 29 that its contract for Iraq would not be renewed because of the Iraqi government refusal to grant the company a new license.

The Iraqi decision was made amid lingering outrage over a September 2007 shooting in Baghdad’s Nisoor Square that left 17 Iraqi civilians dead.

That incident strained relations between Washington and Baghdad and fueled the anti-American insurgency in Iraq, where many Iraqis saw the bloodshed as a demonstration of U.S. brutality and arrogance. Five former Blackwater guards have pleaded not guilty to federal charges in the United States that include 14 counts of manslaughter and 20 counts of attempted manslaughter.

LOAD COMMENTS ()

 

Click to Read More

Click to Hide