Blackwater’s high-powered lobbying effort appears to pay off

By Laurie Bennett

July 2, 2010 at 7:05am

XE Services, the company formerly known as Blackwater, has taken several steps over the last year and a half to remake its public image.

It changed its name, beat (at least temporarily) criminal charges against former employees and hired a prominent Washington lobbyist.

Stuart Eizenstat, a former under secretary of State and adviser to the Carter administration, is representing the company on Capitol Hill.

The most recent lobbying report filed with the Senate shows that Eizenstat’s law firm, Covington & Burling, billed XE for $530,000 in the first quarter of 2010.

Stuart Eizenstat
Stuart Eizenstat

Eizenstat’s list of credentials - and connections - is long. In addition to his service at State, he was deputy secretary of the Treasury, under secretary of Commerce and U.S. ambassador to the European Union. He was also counsel to Senate Majority leaders Bill Frist and Howard Baker.

The report lists simply “government contracts” as the issue to be lobbied.

Journalist Jeremy Scahill, who has written extensively about Blackwater, suggests that the lobbying efforts are working. In the past two weeks, the Obama administration has awarded nearly a quarter billion dollars in new federal contracts, Scahill blogs.

The company’s continuing success would seem unlikely, given its record of killing Iraqi civilians.

Scahill offers two reasons: “First, Blackwater does have the market pretty well cornered on providing large numbers of seasoned special forces veterans, security clearance in-hand, ready for rapid deployment. … Second, Blackwater has been involved with so many sensitive operations for a decade and knows where the bodies are buried and who buried them. Those are not the kind of people you simply cut loose without fear of consequences.”

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