A Decade After Massacre, Blackwater Founder Buddies Up With President

Blackwater
Blackwater employee Jamie Smith at Afghanistan’s border with Pakistan in 2002. Photo credit: Jamie Smith / Wikimedia (CC BY-SA 3.0)

It all started with a single gunshot from a Blackwater Security Company guard. A young man who was driving with his mother to pick up his dad from work was killed. His foot wedged against the accelerator causing his car to roll towards a Blackwater vehicle. Then, as one eyewitness recalled, “the shooting started like rain.” The young man’s car burst into flames after a direct hit by a grenade.

This was the scene when a Blackwater private security convoy opened fire in a busy square in Baghdad in the middle of the day, exactly 10 years ago, for no reason other than nervous trigger fingers.

Seventeen innocent Iraqis were killed and 24 injured in what came to be known as the Nisour Square Massacre. It contributed to the negative Iraqi public opinion toward the allied forces’ presence in their country, and to increased backlash and bloodshed.

Now the founder and ex-CEO of Blackwater (renamed twice — currently Academi Services) has the ear of the president of the United States.

Erik Prince is the brother of billionaire secretary of state for education Betsy DeVos. He and his family donated more than $10 million to GOP candidates and super PACs in 2016.

Prince was invited to an August meeting of military specialists at Camp David to finalize President Donald Trump’s strategy on Afghanistan. He had been making the rounds in Washington with a binder containing his proposal to embed advisors in Afghani forces and provide them with a private air force. All of this would be overseen by a commander, known as a “Viceroy,” reporting to Prince’s company.

“The privatization of security is not unusual,” says Robert Young Pelton — author, adventurer and war journalist whose coverage includes Chechnya, Afghanistan and Iraq. “But the privatization and provision of military level violence in conflict zones has proven to be a root cause of anger and distrust…The worst-case scenario is the self-financing of private armies so there is always skepticism of private plans to fight wars.”

There is nothing wrong with Prince’s strategic plan, says Pelton. “[It] was written by people with experience in the fundamentals of counterinsurgency concepts: air support, training of small commando groups and logistics.”

Erik Prince

Erik Prince. Photo credit: Miller Center / Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

The problems began, says Pelton, “when Prince adds a level of bad history reading by integrating inflammatory concepts such as ‘Viceroy,’ ‘East India Company’ and of course the unsaid assumption that he seeks to profit from war.”

Despite a seeming inability to grasp how terms from the colonial past might upset present-day Afghans, Prince had clearly done his homework on President Trump’s fondness for flattery. He likened his master-plan for Afghanistan to Trump’s “turnaround” of a stalled ice rink in New York. Prince was so keen for this sycophantic reference to be highlighted in an interview he gave to the Atlantic that he told the writer: “Make sure to get the Wollman Ice Rink…Please be sure to use that in the article.”

Meanwhile, on August 4, the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia overturned the only murder conviction of a Blackwater employee involved in the massacre; the Court also ordered the resentencing of three other Blackwater employees currently serving 30 years each on lesser manslaughter and firearms charges — ruling that these sentences constituted “cruel and unusual punishment.”

Pelton does not fault the Appeals Court on this decision: “The State Department created the high-profile violent operating style of Blackwater, and events like Nisour Square were just the most egregious of many. But the trial was deliberately vindictive, [it] wrongly applied laws and was fraught with procedural problems.”

“Full focus should be on the US Government’s use of rented perpetrators of violence in order to conduct business in hostile regions,” Pelton says. “It was only a matter of time before an event of this type would occur in Iraq using these operating methods condoned by the State Department.”

Prince’s lack of regret or acceptance of blame for murderous mistakes by his employees is a matter of public record. In a congressional hearing less than a month after the Nisour Square massacre, he testified that his men had “acted appropriately at all times.” When pressed further by Illinois Democrat Danny Davis, Prince denied the company had ever killed innocent civilians.

Davis: “You do admit that Blackwater personnel have shot and killed innocent civilians, don’t you?”

Prince: “No, sir. I disagree with that, I think there’s been times when guys are using defensive force to protect themselves, to protect the packages, trying to get away from danger. There would be ricochets, there are traffic accidents, yes. This is war.”

Jeremy Scahill, in his book Blackwater: The Rise of the World’s Most Powerful Mercenary Army, is dismissive of Prince’s unwaveringly defiant testimony.

“The assertion by Prince that no innocents had been killed by Blackwater was simply unbelievable. And not just according to the eyewitnesses and survivors of the Nisour Square shootings and other deadly Blackwater actions. According to a report prepared by [former Congressman Henry] Waxman’s staff, from 2005 to the time of the hearing, Blackwater operatives in Iraq opened fire on at least 195 occasions. In more than 80 percent of these instances, Blackwater fired first. These statistics were based on Blackwater’s own reporting. But some alleged the company was underreporting its statistics. A former Blackwater operative who spent nearly three years in Iraq told the Washington Post his 20-man team averaged four or five shootings a week, several times the rate of 1.4 incidents per week that Blackwater claimed.”

Trump’s announcement of his new strategy for Afghanistan was typically short on specifics. Whether Prince’s private army will form part of or inform all of it is not yet known. But given the bloody history of what is now the longest war in US history, the question arises: Can the US afford to send for-profit mercenaries with views aligned to Prince’s onto the streets of Afghanistan at the taxpayers’ expense?


Related front page panorama photo credit: Adapted by WhoWhatWhy from Erik Prince (C-SPAN) and Blackwater logo (Blackwater / Wikimedia).

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19 responses to “A Decade After Massacre, Blackwater Founder Buddies Up With President”

  1. Prefessor says:

    Is this more of their Plan for a Greater Israel?

  2. Mackenzie says:

    The war machine is absolutely sickening. Dubya started a war based on lies. Obama was the first president in US history to be at war for every single day of his 8 year tenure and was known as the drone president. Trump not only continues but has escalated all of this evil despite campaigning that he was against the wars. Meanwhile, innocents around the world continue to be murdered (and those who haven’t been live in constant fear of being killed by a drone). Yet almost all politicians and the mainstream media continue to push the “we need war to keep us safe” narrative. Despite all the criticism Trump has received, he was actually PRAISED for attacking Syria by the media, the democrats and even Hillary Clinton!

    • COL. BECKWITH says:

      Bashir and his pops Hafez Al Assad, have both turned their guns on the people of Syria…stay focused . Trump hit military assets not civvy population centers ..big difference. Muslims have killed hundreds of thousands of other Muslims, no one says anything. Like the blacks killing each other by the hundreds in urban America…but if a cop shoots one black heroin dealer everyone loses their mind.

    • Jeff Clyburn says:

      ^ lazy, dogwhistle sentiment … shall we review the high profile murders of unarmed black civilians by police and then wait for you to show proof they were “heroin dealers?” … stay on Stormfront with that crap.

    • COL. BECKWITH says:

      DONT WASTE MY TIME REVIEW THE NUMBER OF BLACK ON BLACK SHOOTINGS IN AMERICA EVERY WEEK….DONT WORRY ABOUT THE COPS SHOOTING A HALF DOZEN BLACKS EACH YEAR NATIONALLY,THE BLACK ON BLACK SHOOTING STATS DWARF THOSE

    • COL. BECKWITH says:

      I dont do weather chum ,I’ll steer the Aryan Brotherhood your way
      they like to cut things up when they get out of jail..

  3. Intheslithytoves says:

    See “Designated Survivor”….

  4. COL. BECKWITH says:

    OK then please explain why the convoy vehicles were stitched up with so many incoming 7.62x39mm rounds????? Oh you mean the media didn’t see these diplo vehicles when they were brought to Germany for further examination….wow….I’m just shocked these guys delivered their package with no rips or tears and ten yrs later they still get no justice?

    • texanarch says:

      Show the link. I don’t believe you.

    • COL. BECKWITH says:

      No link, sorry my case officer who handled my interview after my SF-86 was filed was on that investigations team, he showed me the photos, none of which are on the web, nor will ever be. Hopefully, they will be introduced at any future retrials and won’t get suppressed by the prosecution. There’s a reason BW never lost a protectee on that contract….and it wasn’t peace, love and understanding. Using folks like BW allows our government the golden privilege of plausible deniability, and that alone is priceless when an op turns to sh*t. Ask Paul Bremer or anyone from the CPO/CPA what it feels like to be alive.

    • texanarch says:

      And they dropped OBL’s body into the sea. Right.

    • COL. BECKWITH says:

      Don’t care where they threw his ass, no-one’s gathering around any grave to idolize him anymore …thats a fact.

    • texanarch says:

      He, OBL, was CIA.
      He was not responsible for the 911 attacks. 911 was a false flag psyop, an inside job. CONTROLLED DEMOLITION. WTC 7.
      No doubt.

    • COL. BECKWITH says:

      AND YOU WERE OBL’S CASE OFFICER ,AND YOU TRAINED HIM AT HARVEY POINT AND THE FARM IN WILLIAMSBURG…YOU WIN THE TINFOIL CROWN TODAY….MOMS CALLING DINNERS READY…AND NETFLIX CANCELLED YOUR ACCOUNT I GUESS

    • JayGoldenBeach says:

      Bremer deserves to have been left in Iraq to live with the intentionally destroyed country and intentionally shattered society.

    • JayGoldenBeach says:

      Friendly fire from others in the convoy? Sympathetic shooting perhaps?

  5. texanarch says:

    Mercenaries enjoy their work. Considering the fact that these wars are predatory and imperialist, initiated and sustained for the financial gain of the usual suspects…Banks…Oil Giants..Military contractors…and THEIR BILLIONAIRE OWNERS…maybe the US should send only professional killers, aka mercenaries.

    I actually saw Jeremy Scahill give his talk on Blackwater at a signing. Very disturbing.

    These wars are all justified by the 911 event. NOT.

    911 was a false flag attack blamed on
    OBL.

    I strongly suspect Dick Cheney was directly involved.

    Larry Silverstein must have also been involved. He collected some hefty insurance settlements.

    Why would an insurance company agree to pay on the policy without any investigation, when it was obviously a controlled demolition. (WTC 7)

    Talk to the insurance guys who signed off on that. WTF?

  6. JayGoldenBeach says:

    How belligerent and aggressive acting were the then-Blackwater personnel to have been targeted in such an excessively vicious attack in Fallujah, Iraq? It did not seem a random attack on generic American personnel; the attackers knew the difference between US military and private security.