On Friday, the State Department's top investigator was forced to resign, following the disclosure his brother sat on Blackwater's advisory board. Inspector General Howard Krongard had initially denied his brother's ties to the company. Current and former State Department officials have previously accused Krongard of thwarting probes into contracting waste and crimes in Iraq, including alleged arms smuggling by Blackwater guards.
Meanwhile, after initially indicating it would let Blackwater's contract expire in May, State Department officials are now raising the likelihood of a renewal. The acting head of US diplomatic security, Gregory Starr, has reportedly told Blackwater it will be judged on its actions "from here on out." That would preclude from consideration the September shooting deaths of seventeen Iraqi civilians by Blackwater guards in Baghdad.
In his latest piece in The Nation magazine, independent journalist and Democracy Now! correspondent Jeremy Scahill writes that Blackwater isn't taking any chances on keeping its lucrative deals. Scahill says Blackwater has launched a major rebranding campaign aimed at winning new government contracts far beyond Iraq. And it's also playing a role in the presidential race, establishing deep ties to Republican hopeful Mitt Romney.
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