Blackwater’s Erik Prince Speaks

Erik PrinceA leaked recording of secretive Blackwater founder Erik Prince giving a private talk reveals that if it’s up to him, the company’s role in 21st-century history is just beginning. Prince wants to have Blackwater (now Xe) mercenaries embedded in Islamic countries around the globe and leading the war on drugs. The Nation reports:

Despite Prince’s attempts to shield his speeches from public scrutiny, The Nation magazine has obtained an audio recording of a recent, private speech delivered by Prince to a friendly audience. The speech, which Prince attempted to keep from public consumption, provides a stunning glimpse into his views and future plans and reveals details of previously undisclosed activities of Blackwater.

In the speech, Prince proposed that the US government deploy armed private contractors to fight “terrorists” in Nigeria, Yemen, Somalia and Saudi Arabia, specifically to target Iranian influence. He expressed disdain for the Geneva Convention and described Blackwater’s secretive operations at four Forward Operating Bases he controls in Afghanistan. He called those fighting the US in Afghanistan, Iraq and Pakistan “barbarians” who “crawled out of the sewer.” Prince also revealed details of a July 2009 operation he claims Blackwater forces coordinated in Afghanistan to take down a narcotrafficking facility, saying that Blackwater “call[ed] in multiple air strikes,” blowing up the facility. Prince boasted that his forces had carried out the “largest hashish bust in counter-narcotics history.”

Prince also claimed that a Blackwater operative took down the Iraqi journalist who threw his shoes at President George W Bush in Baghdad and criticized the Secret Service for being “flat-footed.” He bragged that Blackwater forces “beat the Louisiana National Guard to the scene” during Katrina and claimed that lawsuits, “tens of millions of dollars in lawyer bills” and political attacks prevented him from deploying a humanitarian ship that could have responded to the earthquake in Haiti or the tsunami that hit Indonesia.

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  • Tuna Ghost

    It's funny, I began reading that Nation article with the intention liking Prince even less when I finished, but it was so biased and so poorly written that I was defending him in my mind most of the time. There are very real, very important objections to the sort of work Xe does, but this sort of tabloid smearing does absolutely nothing. Eff you, Nation Online Magazine. Thanks for making me have to side with this sneering mercenary instead of you.

    • honu

      tsk tsk tsk…Tuna Ghost I'm so disappointed. Don't you know Eric Prince is a delusional wealthy homicidal pathological tool? And that's an informed opinion. You really need to read Jeremy Scahill. 5by5 is right.

  • 5by5

    Really? What part about him made you “like” the slimy little merc/fundamentalist christo-fascist wingnut?

    Was it the part where he bragged about going into New Orleans and harassing, shooting at, and illegally disarming American citizens suffering in the middle of the worst combo of natural and manmade disasters in American history?

    Was that where you started “liking” him?

    Or was it when he bragged about “taking down” the one frustrated journalist who had the guts to challenge the Bushbot to his face on behalf of his entire ruined nation?

    Was it where he expressed disdain for the humanitarian protections of the Geneva Convention?

    Or is it where he brags about attacking guerilla groups in Nigeria to protect oil company profits, but doing shit about protecting the PEOPLE in places like Chad, the DRC, Darfur, Zimbabwe who are being attack by either guerillas, or their own dictatorial governments? Was that where you started to “like” that douche?

    Jeremy Scahill's “bias” is that he actually knows what the hell is going on, and has become quite rightly disgusted with it all. F*ck Eric. I'm on Team Scahill.

    If I have to pick a military man to admire, it's sure as fuck not going to be some kill-for-the-highest-bidder asshat like Eric Prince. I'm going to choose a uniformed soldier who still has his honor intact and is a REAL badass like British sniper, Corporal Craig Harrison.

    Furthermore, the reason why we'll defend somebody like Valerie Plame and happily throw a dork like Prince under the bus, is because Plame was A.) real CIA, and B.) actually trying to STOP war (not to mention nuclear proliferation) — not building an empire of profit off of exacerbating world conflicts in the name of Jesus because of some insane belief in the Rapture.

    • Tuna Ghost

      I do not “like” Price and I certainly never said I did. Your examples of rhetoric in favor of substance is a prime example of something I like even less than mercenaries–crappy writing that appeals to emotions rather than state substantive reasons. There are very real and very important reasons why Prince and Xe are not good for our country or any other, but the article does not mention these. Instead it offers crap.

      For instance: a good reason why Xe is bad for our countries and other countries: mercenary armies, by which I mean private contractors, may be much more efficient and better funded but they are notorious hard to prosecute and where they actually lay on the international law spectrum is hard to pin down–this may grant them a liscence to go overboard, and if reports out of Iraq are even barely true, then exactly this has been happening for some time now. Unlike the U.S. military, there is no standard rules of operation or conduct, no courtmarshalls and little accountability. Even though the U.S. military may be fairly lax in one's opinion in their enforcement of their code of conduct, it is there and it creates at least marginal accountability.

      By contrast, what does the article offer?

      “The people of the United States have a right to media coverage of events featuring the owner of a company that generates 90% of its revenue from the United States government.”

      No, it does not, and Scahill gives no justification for this opinion. Note the language used in the third paragraph. Prince is listed as “claiming” things, “boasting” about things, and characterizing NATO's forces as “ineffectual”. These are obviously presented as undesirable character traits and deeds, but c'mon. By the very nature of the speech he's giving, of course he is going to list Xe's accomplishments. Why wouldn't he? And what, exactly, is the problem with this? Also, I've rarely heard NATO troops characterized as anything BUT ineffectual.

      Throughout the article he is constantly “claiming” and “bragging” and “boasting”–as if the things he is claiming aren't verifiable or he cannot simply list the accomplishments of his company, which is rather successful, makes him a braggart.

      When talking about providing security forces for Nigeria to protect the oil pipelines, Scahill accuses him of making “no mention of the nonviolent indigenous opposition to oil extraction and pollution, nor did he mention the notorious human rights abuses connected to multinational oil corporations in Nigeria that have sparked much of the resistance”. Well why the fuck would he? It is not at all relevant to the topic of his speech. For that matter, why SHOULD he? He very obviously thinks that is not his business, and this is a defensible postition to take.

      He is also lambasted for criticising the Afghan troops he's training, even though several others, including high-ranking members of the U.S. military, have done so before him. It is no secret that when you throw a bunch of early twenties shepherds together who have never seen a gun OR a toilet, who have likely never done a jumping jack, that they are not going to be crack troops Is Scahill saying Prince's comments are not true, an exaggeration, or just in bad taste? He doesn't actually offer any substantial opions, only vague but obvious criticisms.

      The article talks about his “War On Drugs”, which is a rather emotion-evoking statement among *ahem* a certain demographic, despite that his war on drugs is limited to the Taliban and the drugs they produce to fund their organization. It's a tactical decision, not a reflection of his opinions on drugs in america.

      A better example of the sloppy fallacy-ridden writing is the comments on the Katrina response:

      “What Prince failed to mention was that at the time of the disaster, at least 35% of the Louisiana National Guard was deployed in Iraq. One National Guard soldier in New Orleans at the time spoke to Reuters, saying, 'They (the Bush administration) care more about Iraq and Afghanistan than here… We are doing the best we can with the resources we have, but almost all of our guys are in Iraq.'”

      Okay. Aside from the fact that “almost all” of their guys were NOT in Iraq, this does not invalidate Xe's claims of beating them to the punch. In fact it only makes them look better prepared and equipped to deal with disaster repsonse than Federal organizations.

      For the nth time, there are many reasons to disapprove of Xe and Prince, but Scahill opted to not mention these in favor of crappy appeals to emotions. I am exremely wary of a well-funded US hired mercenary organization. There are legal accountability issues all over the place, and despite the fact that I am more comfortable with a Xe employee being killed than an army infantry soldier or a marine (who are not making a decent wage for their services) Prince's point about having a large uniformed presence in the middle east being a bad idea is a valid one–something Scahill does not mention. An obvious criticism of this would be that there are REASONS why countries don't send mercenaries into foreign countries to handle official state business, namely that it leads to trouble very quickly, but does Scahill mention this? Fuck no.

      • Tuna Ghost

        Apologies for the typos all over the place. Writing this on an old computer between teaching gigs.

  • Tuna Ghost

    Apologies for the typos all over the place. Writing this on an old computer between teaching gigs.

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