The private military contractor Blackwater -- which rebranded itself as "Xe" in February, 2009 to distance itself from negative incidents like the September, 2007 shooting in Baghdad's Nisoor Square that killed at least a dozen people -- has created a shell company called "Paravant" to try and keep winning lucrative government military contracts. Both Paravant and Xe are owned by Eric Prince, owner of Blackwater. Paravant won contracts to operate in Afghanistan without identifying its affiliation with Blackwater/Xe to the U.S. government. Paravant has been operating as a subcontractor to global defense contractor Raytheon, but the new name and hidden identity haven't changed Blackwater/Xe/Paravant's behavior. In September, 2008, a Paravant employee signed out more than 500 AK-47 assault rifles from a bunker in Afghanistan that held weapons designated for the Afghan National Police and Army. The employee signed the weapons out using the name "Eric Cartman," the racist, obnoxious character from the cable TV cartoon "South Park." The rifles were signed out even though employees had been denied permission to carry weapons on several occasions. Some of the weapons were still unaccounted for for months afterward. Two days after the rifles were taken from the bunker, a Paravant contractor shot another contractor in the head after his AK-47 accidentally discharged.
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