Mercenary King Eric Prince Resigns as Blackwater CEO

The company formerly known as Blackwater continues its mission to
bury its tarnished reputation and soldier on. Early this morning,
Blackwater founder Erik Prince released a brief statement announcing he
is stepping down as CEO of the infamous mercenary firm he started in
1997. A press release from the company -- which last month renamed
itself "Xe" -- said Prince "will now focus his efforts on a private
equity venture unrelated to the company."

In a personal message sent to his employees and clients, Prince
sought to cast his departure as a natural part of the firm's ongoing
evolution. "As many of you know, because we focus on continually
improving our business that Xe is in the process of a comprehensive
restructuring," he wrote. "It is with pride in our many accomplishments
and confidence in Xe's future that I announce my resignation as the
company's Chief Executive Officer."

Prince's resignation could be seen as a public formality in what has
been a dramatic attempt to scrub all public vestiges of Blackwater,
given that he remains chairman and sole owner of the network of
companies now operating under the Xe umbrella. But it's clear the firm
has been thrown into turmoil in recent months. As the Xe statement
says, "These appointments follow the addition and departures of several
other key personnel. Recent departures from the company include its
former Vice Chairman, Chief Operating Officer, President, and Executive
Vice President." Joseph Yorio, an ex-Army Special Forces officer and
former Vice President of the international shipping company DHL was
announced as the new Xe president -- a somewhat humorous development,
given Prince's fondness for describing Blackwater as the "FedEx of the
U.S. national security apparatus." Meanwhile, Danielle Esposito, a
longtime Blackwater employee, was named Xe's new Chief Operating
Officer and Executive Vice President.

The rebranding of Blackwater and its attempts to hide its former
self have been downright crude. The company's domestic training
centers, which some refer to as private military bases, are now simply
labeled "U.S. Training Center." Gone is the sexy black-and-red logo
featuring a bear paw in a sniper-scope; it has been replaced by a
nondescript, rather amateurish sketch of an American Eagle. The company
website has been revamped and scaled down.

One thing that does remain is the Blackwater ProShop, where you can
still purchase items ranging from all the ammunition and tactical gear
you would need for your own private war, to the ever-popular Blackwater
teddy bear. There is currently a blow-out sale in Blackwater baby
onesies, which have been reduced from $18 to $10. Toddler polos have
also had their ticket price slashed.

Blackwater's new name and Prince's resignation come following the
State Department's recent announcement that it would not be renewing
Blackwater's security contract in Iraq. Some have speculated that many
of its operatives may be rehired by the State Department through other
companies or the Department itself. Moreover, Blackwater still holds
lucrative government contracts in Afghanistan and elsewhere and is
marketing "CIA-type services" to Fortune 1000 companies through
Prince's Total Intelligence Solutions. And a 184-foot vessel operated
by the company (named the MacArthur) is reportedly heading for the Gulf
of Aden to fight pirates. Nevertheless, some see the recent
developments as Blackwater's funeral.

Still, the company clearly remains concerned with activist campaigns
against the "new" company and is taking the necessary precautions. In
April 2008, almost a year before "Xe" was officially launched,
Blackwater bought the URLs, .org and .net. But activists
who have mobilized against Blackwater have launched a rebranding
campaign of their own. While Blackwater beat them in the URL game, the
folks at -- whose homepage currently reads: "DON'T
BE FOOLED -- XE IS Blackwater!" -- recently reaffirmed their activism,
sending out an e-mail saying:

"Xe Watch (formerly Blackwater Watch) was formed in 2007 as a
spin-off of North Carolina Stop Torture Now. Headquartered in
Blackwater's home state of North Carolina, Xe Watch seeks to shine a
light on Blackwater USA specifically, and private armies/mercenaries
generally, with respect to their human rights violations, absence of
accountability and their profiteering at the expense of, and lobbying
for, war and conflict. Xe Watch represents a growing contingent of
concerned individuals and groups including, but not limited to, human
rights and peace activists, people of faith, civil libertarians, and
veterans. We are in solidarity with the people in San Diego,
California, Mount Carroll, Illinois and Coeur d' Alene, Idaho who are
fighting Xe's mercurial growth and expansion."

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