Group points finger at Apex company

October 21, 2009 4:30:01 AM PDT
A group called "Blackwater Watch" held a gathering in Apex Tuesday trying to expose problems they claim have been created by big contractors working in Iraq.Now they're focused on a company called "TigerSwan".

The group said TigerSwan has ties to big contractors that they say are bilking the government out of millions of dollars.

They showed a film in downtown Apex Tuesday night that depicted alleged shady practices that put lives at risk.

The movie "Iraq for Sale: The War Profiteers" shows most of the corruption seen in news coverage early on in the Iraq war - no bid contracts awarded to large firms that billed the government for work it sometimes didn't do, hiring people who were under qualified, poorly trained, and unsupervised.

Among the firms targeted in the movie was the company Blackwater - a North Carolina based firm that provided private security contractors to work in Iraq.

"It's all about profiteering from war," said Christian Stalberg with Blackwater Watch. "It does not make our country any safer. In fact it makes us less safe than ever before."

Organizers of the event and the discussion that followed said they wanted people to know that TigerSwan in Apex was a contracting firm whose current CEO is a former Blackwater vice president.

"They have absolutely no business being in business in my estimation," Stalberg said.

But officials with TigerSwan say the Blackwater Watch is incorrect about their company.

"We're not Blackwater," TigerSwan Ops Director Tom Wright said. "We don't think any of those things apply to us. We don't pose a threat."

TigerSwan is a five year old company started by military veterans that moved to Apex earlier this year. They do tactical training with Fort Bragg, private companies and state law enforcement south of town.

"The biggest thing we do in Apex is we manage about 170 linguists that work on a contract for the Department of Defense," Wright said. "They live in work with our troops overseas in Iraq."

He said the group's claims were a case of guilt by association and that the government has greater oversight of contractors these days.

TigerSwan said they have no plans to leave.

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