CBS News has learned in an exclusive report that the State Department has awarded a part of what was formerly known as Blackwater Worldwide a contract worth more than $120 million for providing security services in Afghanistan.
Private security firm U.S. Training Center, a business unit of the Moyock, N.C.-based Blackwater, now called Xe Services, was awarded the contract Friday, a State Department spokeswoman said Friday night.
Under the contract, U.S. Training Center will provide "protective security services" at the new U.S. consulates in Herat and Mazar-e-Sharif, Afghanistan, the spokeswoman said. The firm can begin work "immediately" and has to start within two months. The contract lasts a year but can be extended twice for three months at a time to last a maximum of 18 months.
Should the firm fulfill all 18 months available in the contract, it will be paid a total of $120,123,293, the spokeswoman said.
The awarding of the contract comes just more than four months after the government of Iraq ordered hundreds of Blackwater-linked security guards to leave the country within seven days or face possible arrest.
The Justice Department is also trying to prosecute a case against five Blackwater guards who had opened fire on a crowded Baghdad street in 2007. Last December, a federal judge dismissed the U.S. government's case against the guards in the deaths of unarmed Iraqi civilians killed in the shooting because prosecutors used sworn statements the guards gave under a promise of immunity. Federal prosecutors are continuing to appeal the dismissal.
The Justice Department's case or Blackwater's expulsion from Iraq didn't block U.S. Training Center from bidding on the multi-million dollar contract, the State Department spokeswoman said.
"Under federal acquisition regulations, the prosecution of the specific Blackwater individuals does not preclude the company or its successive companies and subsidiaries from bidding on contracts," the spokeswoman said. "On the basis of full and open competition, the department performed a full technical evaluation of all proposals and determined the U.S. Training Center has the best ability and qualifications to meet the contract requirements."
Two other companies submitted bids for the contract, the spokeswoman said; however, she could not name either of U.S. Training Center's competitors when reached Friday night.