The private military firm Blackwater has hired former U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft as the company’s new "ethics" chief. In a statement, Blackwater said Ashcroft will serve as "independent director,” tasked with overseeing accountability and promoting ethics and professionalism. Blackwater is currently under investigation for its involvement in a 2007 shooting massacre in Baghdad that left 17 civilians dead and more than 20 wounded. The firm has also been accused of falsifying documents to acquire unauthorized weapons, defrauding the government, and endemic use of steroids and cocaine. Ashcroft served as Attorney General during President George W. Bush’s first term. Blackwater now goes by the name Xe Services.
And here's more from Spencer Ackerman -- Blackwater’s New Ethics Chief: John Ashcroft:
The consortium in charge of restructuring the world’s most infamous private-security firm just added a new chief in charge of keeping the company on the straight and narrow. Yes, John Ashcroft, the former U.S. attorney general, is now an “independent director” of Xe Services, formerly known as Blackwater.
Ashcroft will head Xe’s new “subcommittee on governance,” its backers announced early Wednesday in a statement. The subcommittee is designed to “maximize governance, compliance and accountability” and “promote the highest degrees of ethics and professionalism within the private-security industry.”
In other words, no more shooting civilians in Iraq and Afghanistan, no more signing for weapons its guards aren’t authorized to carry in war zones, no more impersonations of cartoon characters to acquire said weaponry, and no more ‘roids and coke on the job.
Ashcroft’s arrival at Xe is yet another clear signal it’s not giving up the quest for lucrative government security contracts now that it’s no longer owned by founder Erik Prince, even as it emphasizes the side of its business that trains law enforcement officers. In September, it won part of a $10 billion State Department contract to protect diplomats, starting with the U.S. consulate in Jerusalem.
Ashcroft, a U.S. senator before becoming attorney general in the Bush administration, is a very known quantity to the federal officials that Xe will pitch. Even if he’s not lobbying for Blackwater, Ashcroft’s addition on the board is meant to inspire confidence in government officials of its newfound rectitude.