Blackwater

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Be scared, be werry scared!
It never changes
War
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A view to kill
He cloaks himself in the American flag when he's seeking a U.S. contract, but he is the hood ornament of the new era of the military industrial complex and a set of mercenaries who work for countries, oligarchs and random billionaires. The Pentagon and national security establishment view Erik as a pariah.
—Sean McFate, author of The Modern Mercenary[1]

Blackwater (temporarily known as Xe[2], now known as Academi[3]) is a mercenary army private security firm that won huge no-bid contracts from the Bush administration to work as mercenaries in the Iraq War (at much higher pay than the United States Armed Forces), and as a private police force in post-Katrina New Orleans. Erik Prince (1969–), the brother of Betsy DeVos and a wealthy supporter of fundamentalist Christian conservative causes like Focus on the Family, is a co-owner of Blackwater, a fact that had absolutely no bearing on the company's success at "winning" lucrative contracts during the tenure of George W. Bush, who by sheer coincidence also professed to be a Christian in addition to being the Decider for the free world. Their corporate logo looks like something rejected by a high school football team.

Murder and mayhem[edit]

The Iraqi government condemned Blackwater for the September 2007 Nisour Square massacreWikipedia in which Blackwater forces killed 17 Iraqi civilians including 9-year old Ali Kinani. Blackwater claims that their forces were fired upon; the Iraqi government denies this. Four people were convicted.[4]

The whole incident led to an increase in attention to the use of "private security firms" for essential military functions in Iraq and other trouble spots. While the term "mercenary" is not used by the government, many people have argued that these firms act as soldiers for hire. In 2007, there were more "private contractors" in Iraq than regular troops (roughly 180,000 vs. 160,000).[5] Moreover, some of these contractors have begun conducting intelligence work for the US as well. (Most of these private security operatives are Iraqi citizens.)

Apologetica[edit]

One defense that has been put forward for Blackwater is that it is often more efficient than US regular forces. For instance, during the emergency after Hurricane Katrina, Blackwater was on the ground before the National Guard or FEMA. At the same time, there have been allegations that Blackwater used excessive force in policing the area, even shooting unarmed civilians.[6]

Implications[edit]

This use of mercenaries has several implications for the strength of the United States. No major power has had to rely on mercenaries in quite this fashion in roughly 200 years.[note 1] Moreover, these mercenaries are not subject to the same US laws as the regular forces,[8] which has led many to question how much control the US has over them. Some of the mercenary companies are even foreign-owned and -run[9] (though Blackwater is itself a North Carolina company), which means that the US is relying on foreigners to bolster its ability to conduct foreign relations. To many, the US has granted some bit of its sovereignty away to foreign citizens. (However, you do not hear the same kind of protests from conservatives that you often hear about the United Nations.)

The true "coalition of the billing"[edit]

Also troubling from the perspective of other nations, many of the "private contractors" have come from nations that refused to participate in the "Coalition of the Willing." For instance, while the Chilean government specifically refused to send troops to help the US in the invasion, there are a large number of Chileans working for these "private contractors". This works to undermine the neutrality of sovereign states, as they can be accused of secretly abetting an aggressor, if their people join in the fighting.

Blackwater pulls out[edit]

As of 22 July 2008, Blackwater was planning to get out of the mercenary business.[10] What they'll do with all that military style infrastructure back home is anyone's guess.

And is kicked out[edit]

"Iraq will not renew the licence of US security firm Blackwater…" 29 January, 2009. [11]

Well, not quite[edit]

Blackwater has a presence on Pakistan's Northwest frontier.[12]

And now…[edit]

"Federal prosecutors are considering filing weapons charges against former top officials of the Blackwater Worldwide private security company over allegations they illegally stockpiled automatic rifles at the company's North Carolina headquarters, …"[note 2]

Murder most foul[edit]

Crusader Erik Prince

On August 3, 2009, a former Blackwater employee and an ex-Marine testified under oath that Erik Prince views himself as a latter-day crusader on an unrealistic mission to eliminate Islam from the world. They also testified that, Sixth Commandment notwithstanding, Prince has had some annoying whistleblowers assassinated.[14]

Team Trump[edit]

It was reported that Prince, as an unofficial emissary of the Trump transition team, attempted to establish secret backchannel communications between Russia and the Trump presidential transition team in January 2017.[15]

Cambridge Analytica, a data mining company that assists election campaigns with the data, assisted the Trump 2016 election campaign and is alleged to have committed illegal acts, including with Facebook data, in doing so.[16] Cambridge Analytica is associated with Frontier Services Group (FSG), which provides security to Chinese businesses in Africa.[17] Prince is the Executive Director & Chairman of FSG.[18]

Helping out the commies[edit]

Though he was born into a wealthy, strongly anti-communist family, Prince decided to help build a mercenary army to defend communist China's business interests in Asia and Africa via the Beijing's International Security Defense College, which is overseen by the Hong Kong-based Frontier Services Group, which Prince founded.[1] There is obviously no guarantee that mercenaries trained by the college would not be used for enforcement within China, or even engage against US forces. Prince has been accused of acting against US interests, particularly with this college, and of being a mercenary cloaked in patriot's clothing.[1] In 2019, Prince's Frontier Services Group was planning to build a training base in Xinjiang, the likely aim of which would be aiding in the suppression of China's Uighur minority, where there are reportedly widespread human rights abuses. [19][20]

Spying on the libs[edit]

In 2020, it was reported that Prince recruited former spies to work at James O'Keefe's Project Veritas and spy on liberal organizations.[21] The espionage operations included ex-MI-6 agent Richard Seddon spying on the teachers' union American Federation of Teachers (AFT) and the congressional campaign of Abigail Spanberger.[21] Not surprisingly, Prince's sister, Betsy Devos, is a major critic of teachers' unions.[21] The AFT Michigan sued Project Veritas for trespassing in 2018.[22][23]

Afghanistan[edit]

Not wanting to be left out of the mess that was the end of the US presence in Afghanistan, Erik decided to extort provide luxury travel to the people fleeing for their lives, to the tune of $6500 each. [24]

See also[edit]

External links[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. Though Russia seems to be relying heavily on mercenaries in the Syrian Civil War.[7]
  2. "Federal law prohibits private parties from buying fully automatic weapons registered after 1986, but does let law enforcement agencies have them."[13]

References[edit]

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Behind Erik Prince's China venture: The Blackwater founder has cut a lucrative security-training deal with Chinese insiders. But is it against U.S. interests? by Marc Fisher, Ian Shapira & Emily Rauhala (May 4, 2018) The Washington Post.
  2. Blackwater Sheds Name, Shifts Focus The Washington Post 14 February 2009
  3. Former Blackwater firm renamed again BBC News 12 December 2011
  4. US jury convicts Blackwater guards in 2007 killing of Iraqi civilians The Guardian 23 October 2014
  5. 180,000 Private Contractors Flood Iraq by Richard Lardner (September 19, 2007; 6:26 PM) AP via The Washington Post.
  6. Former Blackwater guards sentenced for massacre of unarmed Iraqi civilians The Guardian 14 April 2015
  7. Syria war: Who are Russia's shadowy Wagner mercenaries? BBC News 23 February 2018
  8. I Was a Mercenary. Trust Me: Erik Prince’s Plan Is Garbage. Politico 31 August 2017
  9. America's Addiction to Mercenaries The Atlantic 12 August 2016
  10. Blackwater leaving security business The New York Times (International Edition) 21 July 2008 (archived from the original on 3 August 2008)
  11. Iraq ends licence for Blackwater BBC News 29 January 2009
  12. Robert Gates Confirms What U.S. Government Has Denied for Months: Blackwater Is in Pakistan by Jeremy Scahill (January 22, 2010) The Nation.
  13. Charges possible against ex-Blackwater officials: Federal prosecutors are considering filing weapons charges against former top officials of the Blackwater security company on allegations that they illegally stockpiled automatic rifles at its headquarters. (March 22, 2010, 10:35 PM PDT) The Associated Press via NBC News.
  14. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2009/08/04/blackwater-founder-erik-p_n_251181.html
  15. Mueller gathers evidence that 2017 Seychelles meeting was effort to establish back channel to Kremlin by Sari Horwitz & Devlin Barrett (March 7, 2018 at 7:53 PM) The Washington Post.
  16. Revealed: Trump’s election consultants filmed saying they use bribes and sex workers to entrap politicians (19 Mar 2018) Channel 4.
  17. The Latest: Cambridge Analytica links to Blackwater founder (March 21 at 7:15 AM) Associated Press via The Washington Post.
  18. Our Team Frontier Services Group
  19. Blackwater founder Erik Prince’s new company is building training center in Xinjiang by Anna Fifield (February 1, 2019 at 6:22 AM) The Washington Post.
  20. See the Wikipedia article on Xinjiang re-education camps.
  21. 21.0 21.1 21.2 Erik Prince Recruits Ex-Spies to Help Infiltrate Liberal Groups: Mr. Prince, a contractor close to the Trump administration, contacted veteran spies for operations by Project Veritas, the conservative group known for conducting stings on news organizations and other groups. by Mark Mazzetti and Adam Goldman (March 7, 2020, 12:41 p.m. ET) The New York Times.
  22. Lawsuit Against Project Veritas May Shed New Light on Right-Wing Group's Internal Operations by Rachel M. Cohen (July 23 2018, 11:03 a.m.) The Intercept.
  23. Federal Judge Denies James O'Keefe's Attempt to Dodge Accountability for Illegal Michigan Sting (March 28, 2019) American Federation of Teachers.
  24. Erik Prince and Besty Devos flights from Afghanistan