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Documents Show Cozy Relationship Between Blackwater, Canadian Troops

Company was paid nearly $2.4 million to train Canadian soldiers last year

Common Dreams staff

The Canadian military has had a close relationship for years with Xe Services, formerly known as Blackwater, and was paid $2.4 million to train Canadian soldiers in 2011.

Postmedia News reports today:

U.S. firm linked to civilian deaths hired to train Canadian soldiers

An American private security firm whose employees have been implicated in the killing of civilians in Iraq and Afghanistan was paid nearly $2.4 million to train Canadian soldiers last year. [...]

The military has had a relationship with the security firm for years; the documents say 605 Canadian soldiers have received training at the company's North Carolina complex since 2006, as well as an unspecified number of special forces commandos.

In 2008, the federal government awarded the company a standing contract to provide training and access to its facilities on an as-needed basis. It was awarded without a competitive bid "because it was assessed that Xe Services had the only facility capable of meeting the operational requirements for specialized training of CF personnel," the documents say.

The report quotes Liberal defense critic John McKay, who questioned the awarding of the contract to Xe without competition:

"Could the Canadian government find no one better to train Canadian soldiers?" he said. "A sole-sourced contract worries you at the best of times. But to sole-source Blackwater?"

* * *

Blackwater's notorious operations came under scrutiny in 2007 when its guards killed 17 Iraqi civilians at Baghdad’s Nisour Square.

In 2009 Jeremy Scahill reported that former Blackwater employees made allegations that Blackwater owner Erik Princeformer was a "Christian crusader" and rewarding killing:

A former Blackwater employee and an ex-US Marine who has worked as a security operative for the company have made a series of explosive allegations in sworn statements filed on August 3 in federal court in Virginia. The two men claim that the company's owner, Erik Prince, may have murdered or facilitated the murder of individuals who were cooperating with federal authorities investigating the company. The former employee also alleges that Prince "views himself as a Christian crusader tasked with eliminating Muslims and the Islamic faith from the globe," and that Prince's companies "encouraged and rewarded the destruction of Iraqi life."

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