Sunday, September 23, 2007

Private Army of God

Take a peep @ the Wikipedia entry for one Erik Prince, a 38 yr. old USNA drop-out & former U. S. Navy SEAL, who is connected to Amway (Alticor) & Republican politics, & is a board member of Christian Freedom International. Mr. Prince is also the founder of Blackwater, the world's largest private army. "Danger Room's" "Mercs" category has further info on Blackwater & what it's up to, including the acquisition of attack aircraft.

Jeremy Scahill recently wrote a book on Blackwater. An article from The Nation, excerpted from his book. Apparently Scahill doesn't favor the same things as the founder of Blackwater, so The White Rabbit ( rakes him over the coals:
Jeremy Scahill was raised in Milwaukee, Wisconsin by his “social activist” parents, learning early on about radical figures like Malcolm X and other pacifist/socialist/anarchist advocates. He graduated Wauwatosa East High School in 1992, then drifted through a couple University of Wisconsin regional campuses and an area technical college before determining that his “time would be better spent by entering the struggle for justice in this country."
Erik Prince, on the other hand, from Wikipedia:
[A]fter high school he briefly attended the United States Naval Academy before attending and graduating from Hillsdale College. [...] When his father Edgar Prince unexpectedly died in 1995, he ended his Navy service prematurely. After Erik's mother, Elsa Prince, sold the family's automobile parts company, Prince Corporation, for $1.3 billion to Johnson Controls, Inc., Erik moved to Virginia Beach and personally financed the formation of Blackwater USA at the age of 27.
And from Blackwater's "mission statement:"
Blackwater was founded in 1997 from a clear vision developed from an understanding of the need for innovative, flexible training and operational solutions to support security and peace, and freedom and democracy everywhere.

Our founder is a former U. S. Navy SEAL. He created Blackwater on the belief that both the military and law enforcement establishments would require additional capacity to train fully our brave men and women in and out of uniform
to the standards required to keep our country secure.


We are not simply a "private security company." We are a professional military, law enforcement, security, peacekeeping, and stability operations firm who provides turnkey solutions. We assist with the development of national and global security policies and military transformation plans.


Blackwater lives its core values of excellence, efficiency, execution, and teamwork. In doing this, we have become the most responsive, cost-effective means of affecting the strategic balance in support of security and peace, and freedom and democracy everywhere.
Note the highlighted phrases. These "professional military" people seem to have missed the little part in the constitution about civilian control of the military. Well, that's just the U. S. military. It's completely different if the U. S. is financing a private "professional military" company, whose millionaire founder just happens to return some of that money to Republican candidates & causes.

Key words in the "mission statement"? "Security and peace." In that order. Followed by the comma-separated afterthought, "freedom and democracy." In that order.

We've heard the carping from the right that this is a "Christian" nation, and how, First Amendment or not, we have to "take it back" from the godless atheists, and stop letting Christians be pushed around, denied their "rights" as a majority, yada yada.

How long until these Christo-fascists decide that the so-called "War on Christmas" is a real, shooting, war & decide to take out a few Target stores w/ their "counter-insurgency aircraft" because Target employees are forced to say "Happy Holidays" rather than "Merry Christmas?"

Though before that we'll probably see Blackwater overthrowing (for the sake of "security and peace," of course) governments where Christians are being "persecuted," as Christian Freedom International would have you believe. Eritrea seems like a good bet, as India, Egypt, & Pakistan might be too big for Blackwater to take on. Funny how the "majority rights" of the people in those countries aren't that important.


Larry Harmon said...

Ohmigod (as Megan would say), I had no idea that Blackwater's founder was so much a part of the Christian right. This gets worse and worse. Hey, I saw Jeremy Scahill on the CBS Evening News being interviewed the other night about Blackwater. Boy, CBS is jeapordizing their Fox News-stylee "fair&balanced" credentials by having such an obvious left-winger on.......

M. Bouffant said...

From The Editor:
We read that somewhere else a while ago (in the good old days before the web glut of data, we could actually remember where we'd read something, now it's all a blur of links ...) & it bubbled back up after the most recent Blackwater contretemps. Scahill didn't really go into it in the Nation piece, but it scares the crap out of me. Not to mention the connection to the Amway scam/cult. Brrrr!

Anonymous said...

I am not one to generally buy into conspiracy theories, but let me postulate one, just for the hell of it:

Eric Prince ... far-right-wing-nut evangelical, neocon rebubbacan, [read: "amerikan taliban"] ... promotion of end times ... Blackwater ... private army ... wannabe private air force ... Iraq ... Iran ... foment Arab hatred anywhere and everywhere possible ... or how about a coup in the U.S. ... Could it happen here ? ? ? This scares the s*^t out of me and I wouldn't put it past this [mis]administration of pinnocchio and geppetto, et al

M. Bouffant said...

From The Editor:
We're no more paranoid than the next wacky leftist blogger/smart-ass, & don't much go for the conspiracy theory approach either, but when dealing w/ true believers who are convinced they are fulfilling "God's plan," as opposed to, say, a bunch of semi-competent bureaucrats &/or corporate drones w/o a holy mission, our paranoia level goes up a few notches. Come back sometime this afternoon, when we will have more excerpts & links about Erik Prince & his beliefs, donations, pre-Blackwater acivities etc..

By the way, did you attend the USNA? Know anything about why Prince left the Academy & finished his education at a college in Michigan?

Anonymous said...

Longer ago than I want to remember and way before his alleged semester or two, but then I've also heard that he never did "attend". I also heard that his sister is a convicted sex offender, but can't swear to that, either.

I'll be back from time to time.

Anonymous said...

That was quick ... I found this one which indicates he left after 3 semesters because he didn't like it [?] ... not too usual once you get through plebe year, but not completely unheard of [just almost completely unheard of].

Anyhow, for what it's worth:

Sara D. Davis
Blackwater CEO and founder Erik Prince. Associated Press

", September 25, 2007 · With more than $800 million in contracts, Blackwater USA, led by Erik Prince, is among the biggest companies providing armed guards for U.S. officials and government contractors in Iraq.

Prince, the heir to a Michigan auto-parts fortune, has close ties to the Republican Party and conservative Christian groups. He began his career with a stint as an officer in the U.S. Navy SEALs, and co-founded Blackwater in 1997 with other former commandos. His family's wealth made it possible for the then 27-year-old Prince to fund the Blackwater start-up with his own money.

Prince and his firm have drawn scrutiny from members of Congress after Blackwater guards were accused of opening fire on civilians in Baghdad in an incident that left at least nine people dead.

Blackwater has said that its employees were defending a State Department convoy and denied that they had done anything improper, though Prince has made no public statement on the issue. The Iraqi government threatened to expel the company from the country, but after four days, Blackwater was allowed to resume its activities guarding State Department personnel.

Republican, Christian Ties

Prince grew up in Holland, Mich., where his father, Edgar Prince, built Prince Corporation, an auto-parts company that based its success on novel products, such as the lighted vanity mirror for car window visors. The elder Prince was a close friend and supporter of Christian evangelists, such as James Dobson of Focus on the Family, as well as a contributor to the Republican Party. He was an early benefactor of the Family Research Council.

Erik Prince was accepted to the U.S. Naval Academy, but dropped out after three semesters. He later told the Virginia-Pilot newspaper that he loved the Navy but disliked the academy. He finished his schooling at the Christian-oriented Hillsdale College in Michigan.

Prince later rejoined the Navy through Officer Candidate School and qualified for the SEALs. He served about three years, but left the service early after his father's death in 1995. The family sold the business shortly afterward to Johnson Controls for more than $1.3 billion.

Prince has rarely given interviews to the news media. In an email question-and-answer exchange with the Virginia- Pilot in 2006, he wrote that his Navy experience convinced him of the need for a company that could provide advanced training to military personnel and civilian contractors.

The organization rapidly grew into nine companies, providing everything from bomb-sniffing dogs to drone reconnaissance aircraft. Some of the teams that guard U.S. officials in Iraq are provided by Blackwater Security Consultants, which backs them up with helicopters and specially built military-style armored vehicles. The company's light-weight "Little Bird" helicopters, with gunmen hanging out the side doors, are a familiar icon of Blackwater's presence in Baghdad.

Prince has been a steady contributor to the Republican National Committee, giving more than $200,000 since 1998. He also has supported various conservative candidates, including President Bush, Sens. Tom Coburn (R-OK) and Rick Santorum (R-PA), Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-CA), and indicted former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-TX).

Other members of Prince's family have been active in Republican politics. His sister, Betsy DeVos, has served as chair of the Michigan Republican Party, and her husband, Dick DeVos, was an unsuccessful Republican candidate for governor of Michigan in 2006. Dick DeVos, a member of the conservative family that co-founded Amway, succeeded his father as president of that company.

Prince serves as a board member of Christian Freedom International, a nonprofit group that provides Bibles, food and other help to Christians in countries where they face persecution.

Prince's first wife died of cancer in 2003. They had four children together. Prince also has two children with his second wife."

M. Bouffant said...

From The Editor:
Thanks, we hadn't seen that one. There are a couple of new items farther up in which there's a lot more about Mr. Prince, although the only place that mentioned his stint @ Annapolis was the Wikipedia entry, so we were beginning to wonder.

We think it was Ross Perot (though it might have been Pat Robertson, one or the other for sure) who left the Navy, or at least requested a transfer from his ship, because there was too much "salty" language. Maybe that's why the Academy was too much for him, since Prince graduated from a Christian college, though we'd also bet he was a spoiled rich brat who couldn't handle much discipline or academics.

As far as convicted sister sex offenders go, you may have been thinking of Joseph Schmitz (item at the very top) COO of the Prince Group, whose sister is Mary Kay LeTourneau. Do you remember their father, John Schmitz? What a family unit that must have been!

P. S.: Do you work the night shift?

Anonymous said...

Companies like Blackwater should be put in command of our forces in Iraq. They have the right approach, kill anyone that gets in your way and prevents you from accomplishing your mission.

I am sick and tired of America having to fight this war with one hand tied behind our back. What ever happed to vanquishing you enemies through scorched earth and overwhelming firepower? It is time we give the Iraq people and their government a clear ultimatum, either stop the violence and get on with rebuilding your government or we will flatten your country. All we would have to do is destroy a few cities and maybe they would get the message. Either get in line or we will bury you and your country under our missiles and bombs.

M. Bouffant said...

From The Editor:
The U. S. is no longer fighting a war in Iraq. ("Mission Accomplished," remember?) We are occupying a country that we invaded for no good reason. (Unlike Germany & Japan, for example.) Tell me, were you a police officer responding to a domestic violence call, would you tell the couple to stop fighting or you'd break all their living room furniture & use the table legs to beat them both into a coma? Your approach to Iraq is about the same.

"Stop the violence and get on with rebuilding your government or we will flatten your country."

Do you not understand that the Iraqis are fighting about which side gets to rebuild their country & gov't.?

As you have no idea of what is actually going on in Iraq, or of how to solve the problems that the U. S. caused in the first place, perhaps you should keep your bloodthirsty opinions to yourself. Or maybe you should be there. You sound as if you'd enjoy lining up civilians, forcing them to their knees, & shooting them in the back of the head. "Kill 'em all & let God sort 'em out," right?