Xe, the mercenary company formerly known as Blackwater, continues to work for the U.S. government, carrying out counterterrorism operations in Pakistan and Afghanistan.

The New York Times reports the controversial firm founded by an ardest "anti-Muslim" fanatic with strong ties to the Republican Party and the Bush Administration remains a large government contractor even after the State Department publicly severed ties with the company after its operatives murdered Iraqi civilians.

Former Blackwater mercenaries recently implicated company founder Erik Prince in murder plots against those who publicly reveal the firm’s secrets.

Reports the Times:

From a secret division at its North Carolina headquarters, the company formerly known as Blackwater has assumed a role in Washington’s most important counterterrorism program: the use of remotely piloted drones to kill Al Qaeda’s leaders, according to government officials and current and former employees.

The division’s operations are carried out at hidden bases in Pakistan and Afghanistan, where the company’s contractors assemble and load Hellfire missiles and 500-pound laser-guided bombs on remotely piloted Predator aircraft, work previously performed by employees of the Central Intelligence Agency. They also provide security at the covert bases, the officials said.

The role of the company in the Predator program highlights the degree to which the C.I.A. now depends on outside contractors to perform some of the agency’s most important assignments. And it illustrates the resilience of Blackwater, now known as Xe (pronounced Zee) Services, though most people in and outside the company still refer to it as Blackwater. It has grown through government work, even as it attracted criticism and allegations of brutality in Iraq.

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