Blackwater Opens New Base In Illinois
[ABC Local News, Illinois]"The world's most controversial security service is now open for business in Illinois. But is Blackwater, Inc. looking to make Illinois an outpost for what has been called the world's largest private army?
This is the same Blackwater that has become the icon for private security services in Iraq. According to critics, Blackwater is nothing more than a corporate warlord, based in North Carolina, with a payroll of hired gunslingers-- hundreds of them now protecting diplomats and contractors in Iraq. Blackwater executives say they and their mission near a rural town south of Rockford are greatly misunderstood-- that to know them is to like them-- and that they want their new neighbors in Illinois to know them.
On the ground in nine nations around the world, Blackwater is what one company executive calls the most "notorious" in the fast-growing business of private security. For 10 years the firm has been headquartered on almost 7,000 acres in North Carolina. More than 100,000 people have been trained there, the majority of them active duty US Marines, sailors and soldiers. That makes it the largest private military training base in the world.
The firm has received hundreds of millions of dollars in State Department security contracts the past few years. But Blackwater also has a law enforcement training division. And the company says the facility it just opened in northern Illinois is for police training."