In public he was the lean and ruthless face of American military outsourcing in Iraq. Erik Prince, as founder of the Blackwater security company, packed a mobile phone on one hip and a handgun on the other as he flew in and out of the world’s troublespots co-ordinating protection teams for American VIPs — and handling the backlash when his employees were accused of shooting dead 17 Iraqi civilians at a Baghdad crossroads in 2007.
In private, he was a CIA operative, with his own file as a “vetted asset” at the agency’s headquarters, and a mission to build “a unilateral, unattributable capability” to hunt down and kill al-Qaeda militants for the US Government wherever they could be found.
These claims, made by Mr Prince and supported by others who knew of his activities, form part of a potentially explosive investigation into the life of America’s best-known mercenary.
Mr Prince, aside from his work in Iraq, set up America’s closest forward operating base to the Pakistani border in Afghanistan, and helped to train a CIA assassination team that hunted an alleged senior al-Qaeda financier in Germany, and included A. Q. Khan, a Pakistani nuclear scientist, on its list of targets, according to Vanity Fair magazine.
Despite news reports that the security contractor formerly known as Blackwater has seen its contracts dry up and its influence wane, the company continues to do brisk business in Iraq and Afghanistan — and the Obama administration may be too afraid of the firm to do anything about it, says investigative reporter Jeremy Scahill.
“You know who’s guarding Hillary Clinton in Afghanistan right now? Blackwater,” Scahill told MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow Tuesday night. “You know who guards members of Congress? Blackwater. They have half a billion dollars in contracts in Afghanistan right now. CIA, State Department, Defense Department. Why is President Obama keeping these guys on the payroll? There has never been a company in recent history that made the case that corporations are corrupt, evil organizations [better] than Blackwater.”
Scahill was on The Rachel Maddow Show discussing the New York Times‘ revelation that senior Blackwater executives allegedly arranged for bribes of up to $1 million for Iraqi politicians in a bid to retain its contracts and silence criticism of the company in the wake of the Nissour Square massacre in 2007, in which 17 Iraqi civilians died after Blackwater guards opened fire.
Though the Times report stated that it’s unknown if the approved bribes ever reached their targets — Iraqi politicians — Scahill drew a connection between the alleged bribes and the fact that, after the Nissour Sqaure massacre, the Iraqi government first decided to bar Blackwater from operating in the country, and then reversed its position.
To stifle criticism of civilian killings, the American mercenary group formerly known as Blackwater approved payoffs of up to $1 million for Iraqi politicians, according to former company officials who spoke to The New York Times.
“Blackwater approved the cash payments in December 2007, the officials said, as protests over the deadly shootings in Nisour Square stoked long-simmering anger inside Iraq about reckless practices by the security company’s employees,” the Times reported. “American and Iraqi investigators had already concluded that the shootings were unjustified, top Iraqi officials were calling for Blackwater’s ouster from the country and company officials feared that Blackwater might be refused an operating license it would need to retain its contracts with the State Department and private clients, worth hundreds of millions of dollars annually.”
Wow, what a reason to de-mothball this site. They’re finally getting on with it. Eric Prince, murdering thug neo Christin Crusader and private army boy to Cheney and his murdering corparate mates.
Let’s nail the bastards.
A former Blackwater employee and an ex-US Marine who has worked as a security operative for the company have made a series of explosive allegations in sworn statements filed on August 3 in federal court in Virginia. The two men claim that the company’s owner, Erik Prince, may have murdered or facilitated the murder of individuals who were cooperating with federal authorities investigating the company. The former employee also alleges that Prince “views himself as a Christian crusader tasked with eliminating Muslims and the Islamic faith from the globe,” and that Prince’s companies “encouraged and rewarded the destruction of Iraqi life.”
Sworn statements filed in Federal Court allege that Blackwater founder Erik Prince launched a “crusade” to eliminate Muslims and Islam.
The private security company, facing charges in a US court for killing and injuring Iraqis, is attempting to silence its victims and their lawyers.
In their testimony, both men also allege that Blackwater was smuggling weapons into Iraq. One of the men alleges that Prince turned a profit by transporting “illegal” or “unlawful” weapons into the country on Prince’s private planes. They also charge that Prince and other Blackwater executives destroyed incriminating videos, emails and other documents and have intentionally deceived the US State Department and other federal agencies. The identities of the two individuals were sealed out of concerns for their safety.
I. One Tick Closer to Midnight
Last Friday, Dick Cheney was in Saudi Arabia for high-level meetings with the Saudi king and his ministers. On Saturday, it was revealed that the Saudi Shura Council — the elite group that implements the decisions of the autocratic inner circle — is preparing “national plans to deal with any sudden nuclear and radioactive hazards that may affect the kingdom following experts’ warnings of possible attacks on Iran’s Bushehr nuclear reactors,” one of the kingdom’s leading newspapers, Okaz, reports. The German-based dpa news service relayed the paper’s story.
Simple prudence — or ominous timing? We noted here last week that an American attack on Iran was far more likely — and more imminent — than most people suspect. We pointed to the mountain of evidence for this case gathered by scholar William R. Polk, one of the top aides to John Kennedy during the Cuban Missile Crisis, and to other indicators of impending war. The story by Okaz — which would not have appeared in the tightly controlled dictatorship without approval from the top — is yet another, very weighty piece of evidence laid in the scales toward a new, horrendous conflict.
I apologise I have been slacking on this blog, but hubby with hernia, and operation and the death of an old, but much beloved family member took most of our time.
But we’re back, and promise to do better.