Saturday, November 23, 2013

Military mercenary Prince

Remember Erik Prince---the founder of the military mercenary cash cow called Blackwater, possibly a CIA front,  then rebranded Xe, after revulsion at its responsibility for the murder of civilians in Iraq and Afghanistan, then sold and rebranded as Academi? He's been cooling his heels in the UAE, but he's back in the US, touting a memoir and his wisdom on US terrorism policy. The Guardian provides a recap:
By any accounting, Prince’s life has been picaresque. Scion of a Michigan family that made a fortune from auto parts and had influence in the Republican party, Prince was a navy Seal before founding Blackwater, initially a training center in North Carolina for military and law enforcement. The years after 9/11 turned Blackwater into a cash cow – all through government contracting. Through contracts to protect diplomats in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as military deals, the company parlayed a $737,000 relationship with the federal government in 2001 to $593.6m in contracting by 2006.
It also became mired in controversy. Blackwater contractors in Iraq, subsequent statements to various courts asserted, held cocaine-fueled parties and made extensive use of steroids. One contractor in Afghanistan, working for a Blackwater shell company called Paravant, signed for more than 200 AK-47s from a US military depot by giving the name Eric Cartman, a character from South Park. Between 2005 and 2007, Blackwater contractors in Iraq were involved in an average of 1.4 shooting incidents per week, according to statistics compiled by a House committee. After Nisour Square, Blackwater was the subject of myriad investigations, prosecutions and damages lawsuits.
But Blackwater was also a cutout entity for the CIA, providing intelligence operatives with a logistics and transportation operation, even assistance with drone strikes in Pakistan. Former top CIA officials such as Cofer Black and Robert Richer ran Blackwater’s in-house intelligence arm. The relationship was outed by leaks to the press in 2010 that said the agency hired Blackwater to aid in an assassination program that ostensibly never matured. An embittered Prince publicly asserted, in a glowing Vanity Fair profile, that the agency threw him “under the bus”.
That began Prince’s self-imposed exile. He sold his company, already rebranded Xe, to a group of investors who renamed it Academi. Then Prince took the extraordinary step of fleeing the US for the UAE, where, he told Men’s Journal, he would work in the “energy sector” – not to mention make it “harder for the jackals to get my money.”
Quickly, Prince appeared to get back to his old business. The New York Times reported that Prince inserted himself into a venture to provide paid auxiliaries to combat Somali insurgents and pirates; and that a new Prince company, R2, was equipping the UAE government with a private army.
In Philadelphia, Prince sidestepped talk of any new security contracting, describing his new venture, the Abu Dhabi-based Frontier Resource Group, as a "traditional private equity fund" focused on Africa.
"We invest in energy, mining, agriculture, and logistics opportunity throughout Africa," Prince said.
"We're very excited about Africa – it can be the breadbasket of the world. There's an enormous amount of economic development being done there, and Africa's really waking up to the opportunities, and we're on the leading edge out there trying to make it happen."
I bet he's excited about Africa. He can make a bundle fomenting and being paid to fight wars there.


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