Blackwater - the infamous private contractor that's earned controversy for the conduct carried out by its contracted personnel - has revealed its latest PR attempt to cleanse a tarnished image: changing the company's name to "Xe," which is pronounced "z." Blackwater also announced it will change the current company logo (pictured above).
The private security firm has confronted a string of controversies since hiring out its armed contractors in Iraq; many of whom earn tens of thousands of dollars more than military personnel, and put in shorter commitments. One such incident occurred on December 24, 2006, when an armed Blackwater employee was accused shooting and killing a security guard of Iraqi vice president, Abdel Abul Mahdi. A prior incident - of the same year - occurred in the Baghdad Green Zone when an SUV, driven by Blackwater operatives, crashed into a U.S. Army Humvee. Blackwater guards disarmed the Army soldiers, and forced them to lie on the ground at gunpoint until they could disentangle their SUV from the wreck. In May 2007, Blackwater employees opened fire on the streets of Baghdad twice in two days. One of the incidents provoked a standoff between the security contractors, and Iraqi Interior Ministry commandos, according to U.S. and Iraqi officials.
Blackwater is believed to have 20,000-30,000 armed security personnel in Iraq. Its string of controversies sparked the book, "Blackwater: The Rise Of The World's Most Powerful Mercenary Army," by Jeremy Scahill.