The security firm once known as Blackwater has repeatedly tried to distance itself from its bad old days of wrongful death and corporate misconduct. But a new lawsuit filed by two former employees raises questions about whether the firm’s kinder, gentler rebranding is more than skin deep.
Two former employees of the firm, now called Academi, say that they were fired from their jobs in Afghanistan after blowing the whistle on an attempt by a colleague to falsify dozens of marksmanship tests for security contractors. Robert Winston and Allen Wheeler thought that they were following Academi’s new ethics guidelines, which require employees to report suspected instances of waste, fraud and abuse. But not only were Winston and Wheeler fired, they allege Academi arranged with the State Department to blacklist the two security contractors from finding future work with private security firms.
According to the lawsuit, which Nation reporter Jeremy Scahill first tweeted about on Thursday, Winston and Wheeler witnessed a fellow firearms instructor twice fail to record the results of shotgun and machine-gun training amongst dozens of Colombian employees of Academi. The State Department, which hires Academi to protect its diplomats in conflict zones, requires weapons certification from the guards: If contractors can’t properly fire their weapons, they’re a danger to diplomats in need of protection and innocent civilians nearby.
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