Posts Tagged ‘Erik Prince’

Obama Administration Keeping Blackwater Armed and Dangerous in Afghanistan

June 20, 2010

by Jeremy Scahill, The Nation, June 20, 2010

Blackwater is up for sale and its shadowy owner, Erik Prince, is rumored to be planning to move to the United Arab Emirates as his top deputies face indictment for a range of alleged crimes, yet the company remains a central part of President Obama’s Afghanistan war. Now, Blackwater’s role is expanding.

On Friday, the US State Department awarded Blackwater another “diplomatic security” contract to protect US officials in Afghanistan. CBS News reports that the $120 million deal is for “protective services” at the US consulates in Herat and Mazar-e-Sharif. Blackwater has another security contract in Afghanistan worth $200 million and trains Afghan forces. The company also works for the CIA and the US military and provides bodyguards for US Ambassador Karl Eikenberry as well as US lawmakers and other officials who visit the country. The company has four forward operating bases in Afghanistan and Prince has boasted that Blackwater’s counter-narcotics forces have called in NATO airstrikes.

The new security contract was awarded to one of Blackwater’s alter egos, the United States Training Center, despite the indictments of five senior company officials on bribery, weapons and conspiracy charges. Its operatives in both Afghanistan and Iraq have been indicted for killing innocent civilians. The Senate Armed Services Committee has called on the Justice Department to investigate Blackwater’s use of a shell company, Paravant, to win training contracts in Afghanistan. Despite these and numerous other scandals, the State Department once again awarded the company a lucrative contract.

“Under federal acquisition regulations, the prosecution of the specific Blackwater individuals does not preclude the company or its successive companies and subsidiaries from bidding on contracts,” a State Department spokesperson told CBS. “On the basis of full and open competition, the department performed a full technical evaluation of all proposals and determined the US Training Center has the best ability and qualifications to meet the contract requirements.”

Representative Jan Schakowsky, who chairs the Intelligence Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations, immediately blasted the State Department’s awarding of the contract to Blackwater. “This is a company whose cowboy-like behavior has not only resulted in civilian deaths; it has also jeopardized our mission and the safety of U.S. troops and diplomatic personnel worldwide.  Instead of punishing Blackwater for its extensive history of serious abuses the State Department is rewarding the company with up to $120 million in taxpayer funds,” Schakowsky said. “I strongly believe that the former Blackwater should not be receiving further U.S. contracts, and I have repeatedly urged the U.S. government to no longer do business with this company. Though the name Blackwater has become synonymous with the worst of contractor abuses, the bigger problem is our dangerous reliance on such companies for the business of waging war.”

Earlier this year, Schakowsky and Senator Bernie Sanders reintroduced the Stop Outsourcing Security Act, which would phase out the use of private security contractors by the government. Ironically, Hillary Clinton was a co-sponsor of the legislation when she was a senator and running for president. Now, as Secretary of State, she is the US official in charge of most Blackwater contracts. Blackwater is also bidding on a contract potentially worth up to $1 billion to train the Afghan National Police.

© 2010 The Nation

From Blackwater to Xe, the Templar Crusade

January 12, 2010
Mercenary soldiers and security personnel for the US government

by Michael Carmichael

Global Research, January 10, 2010
Planetary Movement
Blackwater is a corporation that provides mercenary soldiers and supporting security personnel to the US government.

Erik Prince, the founder and owner of the now infamous US corporation, Blackwater, hails from Holland, Michigan where his family was both powerful and prominent in two institutions – (1) the Republican Party and (2) the evangelical Christian Church.  After scandals hit his large and lucrative firm, Prince ordered a curious rebranding that changed its name to Xe.

X is an archaic form of abbreviation for Christ and/or Christian that was derived from the cross and the Greek Alphabet.  X or Chi is the Greek letter that is the initial of “Christos” – X – which at the same time served as a symbol for the cross.  Sometimes written Chi-Rho, (Xp) is another abbreviation for Christos and his followers, the Christians.  From the perspective of medieval Christian symbology, ‘Xe’ is a combination of the Christic cross and the Greek letter, Epsilon, the first letter in the Greek word, Evangelion, glad tidings or gospel.  From the perspective of a modern member of the Knights Templar, Xe is immediately recognizable as it symbolizes Christian Evangelism.

Prince’s background

Eric Prince’s father owned a thriving automotive parts business and sent his son to Holland Christian School – an evangelical establishment that accepts students from Kindergarten through the 12th grade.  Since then, Prince has converted to Roman Catholicism – and may be a member or associate of Opus Dei, a very conservative cult now described as a prelature that is a strong ally of the current pope, Benedict XVI, who – when he was a Cardinal – paved the way for the beatification and canonization of the cult’s founder, St. Josemaria Escriva by his predecessor, Pope John Paul II.

Here is a brief description of Erik Prince’s religious background taken from a website :

The founder and CEO of Blackwater is Erik Prince, son of Edgar Prince, the now deceased businessman from Holland, Michigan. Prince’s background as a Western Michigander is not just limited to geography, the brother of Betsy DeVos has also embraced the conservative religious beliefs that his family promoted zealously, particularly with their money. Erik began his political career working as an intern for Gary Bauer at the Family Research Council and also worked in the Bush I White House, although he thought that this administration was too liberal. Prince disapproved of the Bush I administration to the extent that in 1992 he supported Patrick Buchanan for President, something that got him into trouble with his sister Betsy.

Unlike his family, which is part of the Christian Reformed Church, Erik Prince is a Catholic. He most likely became Catholic when he married his first wife, who died of cancer shortly after they were married. Interestingly enough, most of the leadership at Blackwater is also Catholic, albeit a conservative wing of the church that is quite reactionary. Erik Prince is personally connected to conservative Catholic groups like Catholic Answer, Crisis magazine, and a Grand Rapids-based group, the Acton Institute. But Prince has not abandoned his Protestant/Evangelical roots and is a close friend of Watergate criminal turned believer Chuck Colson. They have shared the podium on several occasions, even once at Calvin College. According to Scahill, Prince is aligning himself with a new Catholic/Evangelical alliance called “Evangelicals and Catholics Together.” The ECT manifesto states:

“The century now drawing to a close has been the greatest century of missionary expansion in Christian history. We pray and we believe that this expansion has prepared the way for yet greater missionary endeavor in the first century of the Third Millennium. The two communities in world Christianity that are most evangelistically assertive and most rapidly growing are Evangelicals and Catholics.”

Prince’s relationship to what Scahill calls the “Theocon” movement is not marginal. Prince himself writes about this relationship and it’s importance, particularly with the mission of Blackwater. Prince says “Everybody carries guns, just like the Prophet Jeremiah rebuilding the temple in Israel – a sword in one hand and a trowel in the other.”

The current Crusade

In 2004, the current pope signed a letter to the Bishops in the United States warning the laity not to vote for Catholic candidates who had voted in favor of women’s rights to abortion.  Cardinal Ratzinger’s letter weakened the campaign of John Kerry and strengthened George W. Bush who had used the term, “crusade,” to rally his forces shortly after 9/11. Speaking in Regensburg in 2006, Pope Benedict XVI made insensitive remarks about the Islamic faith that caused outrage in the Muslim world.

Erik Prince’s personal Crusade

Among his personnel at Xe, Prince is known to be a high-profile Islamophobe who believes his personal mission in life is to bring about the total extinction of the Muslim population of this planet in what he has described as a global campaign of genocide or a, “Crusade.”

Here is an excerpt of an article about Prince that appeared in The Economist:

In an affidavit lodged with a court in Virginia, one of the witnesses said that Mr Prince “views himself as a Christian crusader tasked with eliminating Muslims and the Islamic faith from the globe.” The statement continues

To that end, Mr. Prince intentionally deployed to Iraq certain men who shared his vision of Christian supremacy, knowing and wanting these men to take every available opportunity to murder Iraqis. Many of these men used call signs based on the Knights of the Templar, the warriors who fought the Crusades.

Mr. Prince operated his companies in a manner that encouraged and rewarded the destruction of Iraqi life. For example, Mr. Prince’s executives would openly speak about going over to Iraq to “lay Hajiis out on cardboard.” Going to Iraq to shoot and kill Iraqis was viewed as a sport or game. Mr. Prince’s employees openly and consistently used racist and derogatory terms for Iraqis and other Arabs, such as “ragheads” or “hajiis.”

Michael Carmichael is the founder of Planetary.

The Secret US War In Pakistan

December 7, 2009

By Jeremy ScahillZNet, Dec 7, 2009
Source: The Nation
Jeremy Scahill’s ZSpace Page

At a covert forward operating base run by the US Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) in the Pakistani port city of Karachi, members of an elite division of Blackwater are at the center of a secret program in which they plan targeted assassinations of suspected Taliban and Al Qaeda operatives, “snatch and grabs” of high-value targets and other sensitive action inside and outside Pakistan, an investigation by The Nation has found. The Blackwater operatives also assist in gathering intelligence and help direct a secret US military drone bombing campaign that runs parallel to the well-documented CIA predator strikes, according to a well-placed source within the US military intelligence apparatus.

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Blackwater Founder Tells of Extensive Government-Contracted Assassinations

December 5, 2009

Yana Kunichoff, Truthout, Dec 4, 2009

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The head of Blackwater revealed the details of his collaboration with the CIA to locate and assassinate top al Qaeda operatives as part of a covert antiterror operation Tuesday, and blamed Democrats for the leak that ended the program.

In an article published in Vanity Fair, Erik Prince, the founder of Blackwater, spoke about the extent of his involvement with the CIA, which ranged from putting together, funding and executing operations to bring personnel into “denied areas” to targeting specific people for assassination who were deemed enemies by the US government.

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Another Lawsuit Targets Founder of Blackwater

September 17, 2009

by Bill Sizemore, The Virgin-Pilot, Sep 16, 2009

Yet another civil lawsuit accuses Blackwater guards of driving through the streets of Baghdad randomly shooting innocent Iraqis.

[Grilled by the politicans ... Erik Prince, chairman of the Prince Group, LLC and Blackwater USA, testifies during a House Oversight and Government Reform Committee hearing on Capitol Hill. (Photo: AFP)]Grilled by the politicans … Erik Prince, chairman of the Prince Group, LLC and Blackwater USA, testifies during a House Oversight and Government Reform Committee hearing on Capitol Hill. (Photo: AFP)

The latest case accuses Blackwater founder Erik Prince of personally directing murders from a 24-hour remote monitoring “war room” at the private military company’s Moyock, N.C., headquarters.

Prince “personally directed and permitted a heavily-armed private army… to roam the streets of Baghdad killing innocent civilians,” alleges the suit, filed by four Iraqi citizens.

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Iraqis speak of random killings committed by private Blackwater guards

August 7, 2009

Times Online, Aug 7, 2008

Suhad Abul-Ameer, mother of Ali Husamaldeen, who was killed by members of Blackwater, carries his picture as she prays at her house in Baghdad

Suhad Abul-Ameer, mother of Ali Husamaldeen, who was killed by members of Blackwater, carries his picture as she prays at her house in Baghdad

Oliver August in Baghdad

Guards employed by Blackwater, the US security company, shot Iraqis and killed victims in allegedly unprovoked and random attacks, it was claimed yesterday.

A Virginia court also received sworn statements from former Blackwater employees yesterday alleging that Erik Prince, the company’s founder, “views himself as a Christian crusader tasked with eliminating Muslims and the Islamic faith from the globe”.

They also accused the company of following a policy of deliberate killings and arms dealing and of employing people unfit or improperly trained to handle lethal weaponry.

In Baghdad yesterday, some Iraqis said they believed that the case was a last chance for justice and an opportunity for America to divorce the behaviour of its military from the private guards.

Farid Walid, who was shot in Nisour Square two years ago during a massacre that killed 17 Iraqis, said: “Everybody here knows of cases where Blackwater guards shot innocent people without a second thought. They are a symbol of the occupation. Nobody will forget. But Iraqis might think at least a little differently of America if the killers are put in prison.”

Mr Walid is among several Iraqis behind an attempt to take Blackwater to court in the US, helped by an American lawyer, Susan Burke, and her local legal team.

Umm Sajjad, whose husband was allegedly shot by Blackwater guards, said: “The US forces have come to our neighbourhood many times and they never harmed anybody. It was Blackwater that wanted to harm people.”

Her husband was working as a security guard at the Iraqi Media Network, a state broadcaster, when a Blackwater convoy passed them one day in 2007. She says that without warning, the Iraqis were fired upon and three of them were killed. The Blackwater convoy never stopped or sent anyone to check what happened.

Umm Sajjad said: “I was told that there was no exchange of fire or any other reason to provoke them to shoot at my husband and his colleagues. They were on a high building but they didn’t have weapons in their hands.”

Other families have tales of shootings allegedly committed by Blackwater, which has since changed its name.

Abu Suhad lost his daughter in 2007 when she was driving her car near the Iraqi Foreign Ministry in central Baghdad. He said: “Eyewitnesses told me that four white Blackwater cars went by her. Three were already past when the last one shot her in the head at close range and killed her. The eyewitnesses said they were very bewildered why they shot her. The bullet came from the driver’s window, which means that he got next to her when he shot her. The bullet entered from under the ear and left from the upper side of her skull. There were bits of her hair and skin on the car roof.”

Mr Walid remembers the Nisour Square shooting on September 16, 2007 — for Iraqis one of the blacker days of the US occupation. Claiming to have come under fire, Blackwater guards stopped in the middle of a large roundabout and began shooting in all directions.

“I left my car and ran away to hide in a petrol station, which was made of concrete. The shooting was so heavy it was like rain,” he said. “I saw lots of people getting shot. The driver who had been in front of me died and his wife fell out of the car. Her child was killed as well. The shooting went on for about ten minutes.”

Iraqis still find it hard to believe that companies such as Blackwater were given such free rein. Until the start of this year its employees were immune from prosecution in the country.

In another alleged incident involving the company, Ali Husamaldeen was walking in Wathba Square, central Baghdad, on September 9, 2007, when he was felled by a single gunshot. Passers-by reported a Blackwater helicopter overhead, from which they say the fatal shot was fired. According to his mother, Umm Ali, her son was unarmed and in no way a threat.

Leqaa al-Yaseen, an MP, said: “I believe the US authorities have the main responsibility for what happened because Blackwater came to Iraq with their permission. Regarding Blackwater smuggling weapons into Iraq, that suggests the US forces didn’t know about it at the time. But I think they did know.

“The tragedies that happened to our Iraqi people at Nisour Square and other places are not separate from the US forces in Iraq. The US Government is trying to avoid responsibility by blaming private companies.”

Officials in Baghdad have told The Times that they are continuing to investigate allegations similar to those made in the US against Blackwater.

Major-General Fathel al-Barwari, commander of the Iraqi Special Operations Forces, said he was gathering evidence of illegal weapons trading by the company. As a result, Blackwater could also face criminal prosecution in Iraq, where it is now banned, but other companies connected to Mr Prince still operate.

Tahseen Al-Shekhli, for the defence ministry in Baghdad, said: “If the allegations of illegally smuggling weapons into Iraq are proven, the Iraqi authorities will definitely take legal measures against this company.”

The Iraqi Government has tightened up rules for private security companies in recent years.

Report: Ex-Marine, employee link Blackwater founder Erik Prince to murders

August 5, 2009

By Stephen C. Webster, Raw Story, August 4, 2009

In sworn statements filed with a Virginia court last night, a former Marine and a former Blackwater employee claim that the company’s founder and former CEO, Erik Prince, “may have murdered or facilitated the murder” of people who were aiding a federal investigation into a Baghdad massacre that left 17 dead, according to Nation reporter Jeremy Scahill.

“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,” the magazine reported.

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