Xe, the private contractor formerly known as Blackwater, is getting a new contract worth about $120 million to protect CIA facilities in Afghanistan and elsewhere. Although the contract may be new, the relationship isn't.
Protecting CIA teams and sites in Afghanistan is a job Blackwater/Xe has been doing since early 2002, when the Agency's Henry Crumpton led a successful push against the Taliban in the post-September 11 era. Crumpton's teams made it to Kabul so quickly that they didn't even have enough bodies to secure everything that needed securing, so amid a big push at Langley by former CIA Executive Director Buzzy Krongard, Blackwater got the deal.
That was how the relationship began. It hasn't changed much despite the incredible public relations lows the company has experienced, though the personal relationship between the company and the Agency hasn't been without its own ups and downs.
In December, Xe lost another significant contract with the CIA after the company's owner, Erik Prince, pulled a Gen. McChrystal with Vanity Fair. He boasted of his company's relationship with the Agency in an article that had some at Langley so unsettled, they not only canceled the contract, they made it clear that they thought Prince was living in a dream world.