Former Blackwater President Indicted on Weapons Charges
Nico Colombant | Washington 16 April 2010
The former president of the U.S. private security firm formerly known as Blackwater Worldwide has been indicted on federal weapons charges.
Gary Jackson, who resigned as the head of the controversial firm last year, has been accused of conspiracy to violate firearms laws, making false statements and possessing an unregistered firearm.
The indictment was issued Friday in North Carolina, where the company, now called Xe Services, is based.
Four other officials from the firm, including its former general counsel Andrew Howell, face similar charges. These result from a federal raid two years ago that rounded up 22 weapons, including AK-47s.
Officials from Blackwater, including Jackson, have previously said authorities knew about the weapons for years.
Democratic lawmakers have been pushing for greater government oversight of the security company. It came under heightened criticism when some of its guards were accused of killing Iraqi civilians in 2007 while protecting U.S. diplomats in Iraq.
Author and anti-war activist Jeremy Scahill, who wrote a book called "Blackwater" has repeatedly spoken out against the company, and the increasing reliance on contractors by the U.S. military in conflict situations. "I do not see how this system is defensible, where we have billions of dollars of U.S. taxpayer money going to fund corporations whose entire livelihoods are build off of the escalation of war and conflict," he said.
The company started out in the late 1990s as a tactical training facility. Last year, the now-indicted and previously replaced company president Jackson said it was moving away from the business of providing private security.
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