Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Blackwater Founder Decamps to Abu Dhabi

How about that?

This morning, the New York Times reported: “Erik Prince, whose company, Blackwater Worldwide is for sale and whose former top managers are facing criminal charges, has left the United States and moved to Abu Dhabi, according to court documents.”

Abu Dhabi, is the largest of the seven emirates making up the United Arab Emirates. It is located in the Persian Gulf region and adjoins the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the Sultanate of Oman.

The NYT went on to report: “Mr. Prince, a former member of the Navy Seals and an heir to a Michigan auto parts fortune, left the country after a series of civil lawsuits, criminal charges and Congressional investigations singled out Blackwater or its former executives and other personnel. His company, now called Xe Services, has collected hundreds of millions of dollars from the United States government since 2001.

“Mr. Prince does not face any criminal charges, but five former top company executives have been indicted on federal weapons, conspiracy and obstruction charges. Two guards who worked for a Blackwater-affiliated company face murder charges from a 2009 shooting in Afghanistan, and the Justice Department is trying to revive its prosecution of five former Blackwater guards accused of killing 17 Iraqi civilians in 2007.

“In documents filed last week in a civil lawsuit brought by former Blackwater employees accusing Mr. Prince of defrauding the government, Mr. Prince sought to avoid giving a deposition by stating that he had moved to Abu Dhabi in time for his children to enter school there Aug. 15. In the documents filed in federal court in Virginia, Mr. Prince’s lawyers describe Abu Dhabi as Mr. Prince’s place of residence. His deposition is now scheduled to take place there next week, lawyers involved in the case said.

“Mr. Prince made a name for himself during the height of the war in Iraq, when Blackwater became the most recognizable brand name in the booming field of private security contracting. The company, which Mr. Prince founded in 1997, expanded rapidly, winning a series of contracts with the State Department, the C.I.A. and the Defense Department.”

In case readers of Ratbang have any lingering doubts about how much of a skunk Erik Prince is, and in case readers of Ratbang do not remember that former President George W. Bush and former Vice President Dick Cheney elevated Erik Prince to the throne of power he enjoyed during their unnecessary and egregiously wrong-headed war in Iraq, I am reprinting herewith an article I wrote about Blackwater, which appeared in BuzzFlash on May 14, 2007.


We've been warned. Is anyone listening?

Jeremy Scahill's book, "Blackwater, The Rise of the Most Powerful Mercenary Army" lays it all out in detail. "Blackwater" was published this year and is touted as a New York Times Bestseller. And yet, I don't see a groundswell of outrage in either the blogosphere or in the mainstream media.

For me, the most unsettling thing about our State Department paying a bunch of gun-for-hire mercenaries and deploying them to Afghanistan and Iraq is that a far right Christian religious fanatic is training these thugs. And the second most unsettling thing is that each soldier in this shadow army, numbering 120,000, is being paid $1,000-a-day by the U.S. State Department.

Currently, the United States military has about 130,000 troops in Iraq, but the mercenaries bring that number to a total of 250,000 troops in Iraq.

General David Petraeus says the latest buildup of 28,000 extra troops will be in place by mid-June, at which time the U.S. will have a total of 280,000 troops in Iraq. The U.S. will pay 160,000 of these troops the regular military pay for its grunts in Iraq. But 120,000 of those troops will get $1,000 a day, the going rate that Blackwater USA pays its mercenaries.

What is Blackwater? And who are these guys the State Department has secretly hired to double our troop level in Afghanistan and Iraq?

In 1998, William Kristol, Dick Cheney, Paul Wolfowitz, Richard Perle, Donald Rumsfeld, and a score of other neocons issued their Project for the New American Century manifesto. It was a written validation for the United States to make pre-emptive strikes on any nation the U.S. government had a bad feeling about. Essentially, it justified United States' global aggression.

Also in 1998, wealthy far-right Christian fanatic and former Navy SEAL Erik Prince broke ground on the construction of a training camp for mercenaries. Prince had bought a 100,000-acre tract of land in Camden County, North Carolina for his proposed training camp. Not so coincidentally, the training camp was a half-hour ride from the largest naval base in the world, Norfolk Naval Base.

Although Prince billed his camp as a "$2 million dollar outdoor shooting range," it actually was a camp to train militias to fight the battles Prince foresaw as coming up between believers in Jesus and the U.S. government. The name Blackwater is a reference to the black waters of The Great Dismal Swamp, a huge peat bog in northeastern North Carolina near the Blackwater compound.

Prince and Focus on the Family founder James Dobson had the same vision for the course Christians would have to take. Dobson said, "I stand in a long tradition of Christians who believe that rulers may forfeit their divine mandate when they systematically contravene the divine moral law. We may be rapidly approaching the sort of Rubicon that our spiritual forebears faced Choose Caesar or God. I take no pleasure in this prospect, I pray against it. But it is worth noting that such times have historically been rejuvenating for the faith." Dobson wrote and Prince agreed that the United States was heading for "a showdown between church and state" and a "morally justified revolution."

It is the Prince family that has bankrolled James Dobson. The U.S. State Department has paid Blackwater USA to the tune of $750 million since June 2004 to deploy mercenaries to Afghanistan and Iraq.

They are called "contractors" and/or "security forces" by the State Department, which claims they are a necessary adjunct to the U.S. military. However, there is no oversight of these hooligans. They can do whatever they damn well please and they get $1,000 a day for doing it.

Plus, they have been trained by Erik Prince, a right-wing religious fanatic who believes that private Christian militias should rise up and take over the ungodly, unholy U.S. government.

Our State Department is aiding, abetting, funding, and promoting Blackwater USA, the American equivalent of a jihadist organization. I ask again, is anyone listening?”

Here is my prediction. Erik Prince is willing to make a deal with the Devil himself, if it means promoting his brand of thuggery and fanatiscism. But even Prince has no clue as to the company he will be keeping in Abu Dhabi. I think he’s out of his league and in for an ugly comeuppance.