Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Blackwater and Erik Prince the merchants of death

Fallujah baby, a gift from the US taxpayer. Is that what we wanted?
left: deformed Fallujah child from US chemical weapon use.

by Richard Mellor Afscme Local 444, retired

After serving 12 years, the US government just released three Chinese Muslims, the final  batch of more than two-dozen that were held at Guantanamo Bay, the US concentration camp in occupied Cuba. The Muslims, ethnic Uighurs were never charged with anything and cleared for release by a judge in 2008.*

We don’t have to dig too deeply to get a sense of why young Muslims Arabs or other victims of US government aggression are drawn to “terrorist” groups or are engaged in attacks on US personnel or property in one form or another. Resistance to foreign domination takes many forms.

We could start with one of the world’s most renowned terrorists and mass murderers, Erik Prince. Prince is the founder and CEO of the mercenary outfit we once knew as Blackwater USA.

Like Osama bin Laden, Erik Prince is a religious man, a good Catholic (might excommunication be in order Francis?).  He was born with a silver spoon in his mouth wanting for nothing as his father made billions in the auto parts business, a lucrative venture in Michigan. But such mundane manufacture was not for Erik; he needed action.  At college he was a volunteer fireman and a rescue diver, he could have taken another direction and put his skills to work in some form of social service, but sons of billionaires don’t do that.

After his parents died, Erik left the service, sold the family business, and ventured out on his own, with a nice gift of cash he never earned of course.  He started with a private military training center in rural North Carolina that was to become Blackwater USA which was incorporated in 2002.  Business Week points out that Blackwater went from training soldiers (and law enforcement) to finding them work.  War is good for the mercenary business and Prince prospered, providing security for US convoys, personnel and politicians and doing covert work for the CIA, perhaps the world’s most efficient terrorist organization. It was the events of 911 that really helped as the CIA approached Prince about supplying mercenaries for the Afghanistan war.

This led to more contracts and Blackwater became the main supplier of security to many government departments and agencies as well as individuals.  Two of Blackwater’s contractors were assigned to Paul Bremer the Cromwell of Iraq who ran the country from May 2004 through June 2005.  Business Week points out that one of these mercenaries was a guy named Frank Gallagher who was a former security head for another notorious mass murderer, Henry Kissinger.  Things got even better for Blackwater:  “When the Pentagon decided to contract out the whole detail in August 2003, he became its leader. Seven days later, Blackwater had found 34 more guys—former Army Rangers and special forces, Force Recon marines, SEALs, and SWAT team officers—promised them $600 a day, and flown them into Baghdad.” (BusinessWeek)

Blackwater eventually won the contract to provide security for all US government’s personnel in Iraq.  In all Prince and Blackwater received close to $1 billion in government or more accurately, US taxpayer money.  The reader should think about this for a minute.  Prince is not only a conservative Catholic, he was an passionate believer “…in the dynamism of the private sector.” Says BW, and that, “…some of the world’s most frustrating problems—piracy, warlords, genocide—could be solved by small groups of highly trained men with guns.”  Funny how Libertarians (right wing Republicans in reality) have no problem getting rich off taxpayer subsidies as they champion the private sector over the public. Ross Perot made his money the same way through government (Medicare) contracts.  Yet they all want to eliminate social services, public sector jobs and our pensions.

Blackwater we know got in to some serious trouble in Iraq.  There was the whole Fallujah affair. Four mercenaries were killed by Iraqi’s and their bodies mutilated.  For this, the US taxpayer came to the rescue again in the form of the imbecile George W Bush who sent in the Marines, twice. The destruction and chemical warfare the US government inflicted on the people of Fallujah will never be forgotten.  This city will forever remain a heroic shrine to the resistance of the Iraqi people to an invasion by the most powerful military ever constructed. A Google search will give the reader a glimpse in to the horrific results of the US war on this city, retaliation for resistance (see links at the end of this commentary).  The children are still being born deformed as are the children of Vietnam from previous US chemical warfare. Most Americans put these issues out of our minds, but the Iraqi, Arab and Muslim people cannot. I recall here my mother telling me that with the bombings in London in WW2 if an ejected German pilot were to have landed in her neighborhood he would have been torn to pieces.  That’s what the Iraqi’s did to the Blackwater mercenaries; a rare chance at payback but they suffered for it thanks to Bush and co. War is not nice

Blackwater we know has changed its name but the guilty still walk free. The families of the slain mercenaries of Fallujah sued the company and won some settlement.  The murder of innocent Iraqi’s in Nisour Square in 2007 and the killing of a bodyguard for the Iraqi president in 2006 by a drunken Blackwater mercenary, led to more problems although he was never charged with any crime. I wonder if that angers Iraqi’s to the point that they might harm innocent Americans.  Perhaps it does.

As BusinessWeek points out, Blackwater has faced numerous lawsuits from many US government departments and groups as well as the relatives of victims murdered in Nisour Square. There are misplaced weapons and missing funds although a jury cleared executives of any wrongdoings this year.

Prince is still free and involved in other ventures and linked to the “Puntland Maritime Police Force, a paramilitary force trained by South African advisers to fight piracy.” Says BW.   He lives in Abu Dhabi, a slave state in the Middle East that imports all its labor from poor countries.  Prince has been involved in security operations to protect the thugs that rule these countries but according to reports is backed by the US government in that venture.  The maintenance of strong dictators that support US foreign policy is crucial.  He can also earn some extra cash from his ownership of the name “Blackwater” through the sale of Blackwater knives, pellet guns and even a “first-person shooter video game”. He is a man of conscience though, the game is rigged so the shooter, that nice young 12 year old next door, can’t shoot civilians.  Unfortunately, in many of the regions where the US government treads, there is no state militia or military, all the freedom fighters and those that resist occupation are civilians. Tanks, planes, boats and uniforms are expensive.  He also has an estate in Virginia.

As Business Week puts it, “These days, Prince’s day job is running the Frontier Resource Group, a fund that invests in natural resources in Africa.”

Heaven help them.

For more on how innocents were rounded up by US backed warlords in Afghanistan see:

More on Bush’s horror inflicted on the people of Fallujah:

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