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Cowboy hat By Jim Hightower and Phillip Frazer - Sat., 3/7/09
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Blackwater USA, the infamous outfit of corporate mercenaries that became a worldwide symbol of George W's imperious war in Iraq, is gone. Not merely gone from Iraq, but entirely gone. Kaput. Blackwater itself is no more.

Unfortunately, it's gone in name only. Blackwater's privatized army that mired itself in scandal after scandal still exists, but it has "rebranded" itself with a new moniker. Henceforth, the corporation-formerly-known-as-Blackwater is to be called Xe. That's spelled x-e, but it's pronounced "z," which rhymes with "whee" --as in, "Whee, we got rid of that contaminated name, so maybe no one will remember the stuff we did!"

Good luck with that. By whatever name, the company remains the target of four grand-jury investigations in our country. It stands accused of tax fraud, improper use of force, arms trafficking, and overbilling taxpayers. It was fired from its security job with the State Department in January, and Iraq's government has since booted it out of that country entirely. Iraqis remember the 2007 incident in which Blackwater guards gunned down 17 unarmed civilians.

Nonetheless, the corporation's executives hope that the tiny, exotic name of Xe will be big enough to hide Blackwater's notorious past. Unlikely, without a change in the corporate culture of anything goes. After all, it'll still be a for-hire army with profit as its motivating ethic.

I looked up Xe in the dictionary. It's a chemical symbol for xenon, which is "a heavy, colorless, chemically inactive, monatomic gaseous element present in the atmosphere...used to fill luminescent tubes."

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