March 10th, 2010
06:24 PM ET

Another contract for controversial contractor

WASHINGTON – Just days after U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates said he would review allegations of misconduct in Afghanistan by the company formerly known as Blackwater, the Department of Defense announced the company had won another multi-million dollar contract to operate in Afghanistan.

On Tuesday, a subsidiary of Xe (the new name for Blackwater) won a contract worth almost $40 million to provide helicopter air-lift for passengers and cargo in Afghanistan.

The contract, for the subsidiary called Presidential Airways, is for additional work to the already existing contract worth almost $1 billion, according to U.S. government documents.

The company holds numerous contracts under three company names in Afghanistan for support of military and intelligence operations.  Those companies are US Training Center, Greystone and Presidential Airways.

The new contract started March 5 and is to last through the end of November, according to the announcement.

Tuesday's contract announcement comes after Senate Armed Service Chairman Carl Levin sent Secretary Gates a letter urging him to look into evidence of misconduct in a previous contract awarded to a subsidiary of Xe for work in Afghanistan.

Secretary Gates has yet to respond to the letter, but Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman said Gates agrees that the allegations of misconduct should be looked into.

 Levin sent Gates the letter after learning the company is eligible for another potential a job order worth tens of millions of dollars to train Afghan police later this month.

That contract, under Xe subsidiary company U.S. Training Center, has not yet been awarded by the Pentagon.

"Just because a company might have a reputation with some lawmakers does not mean you can bar them from bidding on work," Whitman said.

"There is a very high legal standard for disbarment and we have to follow the law here," Whitman said.

A spokesman for Xe did not respond to requests for comment.

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