Former Bush Attorney General John Ashcroft was tapped to head the “subcommittee on governance” for the mercenary group Xe Services, formerly known as Blackwater. In his new position Ashcroft will be in charge of corporate compliance and accountability in a company besieged by criminal corruption.
Ashcroft has quite a place to clean up. Blackwater guards have been found guilty of shooting civilians in Iraq and Afghanistan, drug use and fraud. Xe is in the process of re-organizing, searching for a new CEO and management to keep it in the private security game.
Tapping Ashcroft as a principal compliance officer sends a strong signal that the firm plans on staying in the business thanks to government contracts also. Prior to joining Xe Ashcroft was running a Washington consulting firm.
Ashcroft’s credentials as a compliance and ethics manager my seem spurious to some folks. After all he is better known for his embrace of far-reaching surveillance powers in the name of domestic security then for rigorous ethical accountability, but given that Xe is a private security contractor, those credentials actually make Ashcroft a perfect fit.
Ashcroft’s appointment only underscores the need for President Obama’s plan to force campaign disclosures related to the awarding of government contracts. Ashcroft’s ties in Washington run deep and they are influential. His presence at Xe will no doubt impact, in some fashion, the face of the United States abroad and further legitimize the use of private mercenary forces over the military on many assignments. And given the lack of transparency and accountability inherent in the private military contractor model, that is a development Americans should not be comfortable with.
photo courtesy of Pablo Manriquez via Flickr
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