Congressman Hopes to Break Blackwater Deal with School
San Diego 6 (2009-03-02)
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SAN DIEGO - A San Diego congressman plans to ask Southwestern College to rescind its plans to partner with the private security company formerly known as Blackwater, it was reported Monday.
Southwestern's governing board unanimously approved a plan in January to allow the company to use college classrooms in exchange for the company allowing its nearby shooting range to be used by the college's police academy. Both facilities involved in the deal are located in Otay Mesa.
Rep. Bob Filner, D-San Diego, said Friday that he intends to send a letter to the college board asking it to rescind the deal because of the company's past actions as a private security firm in Iraq, The San Diego Union- Tribune reported.
Blackwater changed its name to XE last month. It also renamed its training facility near Southwestern's satellite campus in Otay Mesa from the Blackwater Lodge and Training Center to the U.S. Training Center Southwest.
The company has provided security for the State Department in Iraq. It drew sharp criticism after six of its employees shot and killed 17 Iraqi civilians in Baghdad in 2007. They said they thought they were being fired on.
Five of the employees involved in the incident recently pleaded not guilty to manslaughter charges while a sixth pleaded guilty.
Brian Bonfiglio, an XE vice president, told the Union-Tribune that the college approached his company with the deal and that XE is only trying to be a good neighbor by agreeing to it.