Blackwater, which now goes by the name "Academi" to sound less like an army of pillaging mercenaries, is still making major no-bid deals with the U.S. military in Afghanistan. Wired's Spencer Ackerman reported Wednesday that Blackwater will play "landlord" to U.S. Special Operations Forces in the country.
Thanks to a no-bid deal worth $22 million, U.S. Special Ops have moved to a new Blackwater-owned and operated base -- Camp Integrity. "It’s highly unusual for U.S. military forces to take up official residence on a privately owned facility, " reported Ackerman, noting, "According to Lt. Col. Tom Bryant, the spokesman for Special Operations Joint Task Force-Afghanistan, it’s only supposed to be temporary, as the command plans to move to Bagram Air Field by summer 2013. But Camp Integrity is already shaping up to be a crucial location for an Afghanistan war that’s rapidly changing."
The use of Camp Integrity reportedly arose from the simple fact of overcrowding as the U.S. consolidated its Special Operations into one force. Academi offered a home for the force that could not be accommodated by existing military facilities. But as Ackerman noted, "Academi’s old incarnation, Blackwater, had deep ties to the secretive U.S. special operations community. Founder Erik Prince was a Navy SEAL, and the firm aided the Joint Special Operations Command with counterterrorism targeting and 'snatch and grab' operations in Pakistan."
Despite the rationale of expediency, it may come as a surprise to Blackwater (by any other name) critics that the contractor continues to make major deals with the U.S. military in Afghanistan, despite its record of murdering Afghan civilians. But as Ackerman pointed out, the notorious security firm now hosts "the heart of the enduring commando mission in the U.S.’ longest war."
Last month Ackerman reported that Academi will also play a major role in the Pentagon's plan to expand its global spy network to an unprecedented size. Academi is among six firms hired to train DIA spies in self-defense.