Washington (CNN) - A firm affiliated with the former Blackwater security company has been awarded a contract to provide protection to U.S. consulates and diplomats in the Afghan cities of Herat and Mazar-e Sharif, a U.S. State Department official confirmed on Saturday.
The official said U.S. Training Center got the contract on Friday. It is part of Xe, the new name of Blackwater Worldwide.
[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/01/30/art.levingavel0130.gi.jpg caption=" Sen. Carl Levin is set to issue a scathing assessment Wednesday of Blackwater's actions in Afghanistan."]Washington (CNN) - The chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee plans to unleash a withering attack Wednesday on private contractors working for the company formerly known as Blackwater in Afghanistan, accusing them of flouting regulations and endangering the U.S. mission.
Key to beating the Taliban in Afghanistan will be the ability of U.S. forces to win support from the Afghan people, many of whom do not distinguish between U.S. contractors and the U.S. military, Sen. Carl Levin will say, according to an advance text of his remarks.
"If we are going to win that struggle, we need to know that our contractor personnel are adequately screened, supervised and held accountable - because in the end, the Afghan people will hold us responsible for their actions," the Michigan Democrat will say.
"If we don't fix the problems of oversight and make sure contractors like Blackwater play by the rules and live up to their commitments - we'll be doing a disservice to our troops by making their already difficult and dangerous job even more so."