|"Only dull people are brilliant at breakfast"
|"The liberal soul shall be made fat, and he that watereth, shall be watered also himself."
-- Proverbs 11:25
Blackwater Worldwide's legal woes haven't dimmed the company's prospects in Afghanistan, where it's a contender for an important role in the U.S. strategy for stabilizing the country.
Now called Xe Services, the company is in the running for a Pentagon contract potentially worth $1 billion to train Afghanistan's troubled national police force. Xe has been shifting to training, aviation and logistics work after its security guards were accused of killing unarmed Iraqi civilians more than two years ago.
Yet even with a new name and focus, the expanded role would seem an unlikely one for Xe because Democrats have held such a negative opinion of the company following the Iraqi deaths.
During the White House campaign, then-Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, now President Barack Obama's secretary of state, backed legislation to ban Blackwater and other private security contractors from Iraq.
Xe eventually lost its license to operate as guardian of U.S. diplomats in Iraq. Clinton's State Department decided not to rehire the company when the contract expired in 2009. Delays in getting a new company in place led to a temporary extension of that contract.
A federal judge on New Year's Eve dismissed criminal charges against five of the Blackwater guards, citing repeated missteps by federal prosecutors. The Iraqi government has promised to pursue the case, a new strain on relations between the U.S. and Iraq.
Xe on Wednesday reached a settlement in a series of civil lawsuits in which dozens of Iraqis accused the company of cultivating a reckless culture that allowed innocent civilians to be killed. On Thursday, however, two former Blackwater contractors were arrested on murder charges in the shootings of two Afghans after a traffic accident last year.
Despite the scrutiny, the U.S. relies heavily on Xe (pronounced "zee") for support in Afghanistan; the workload may grow significantly.