Erik Prince

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Erik Prince (born June 6, 1969) is an American businessman, former U.S. Navy SEAL officer, and the founder of the private military company Blackwater USA (now part of Constellis Holdings under the name Academi). He served as Blackwater's CEO until 2009 and as its chairman until its sale to a group of investors in 2010. Prince heads the private equity firm Frontier Resource Group. Prince is the son of engineer and businessman Edgar Prince, and the brother of former U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos.


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  • I put myself and my company at the C.I.A.’s disposal for some very risky missions...But when it became politically expedient to do so, someone threw me under the bus... He is incredulous that U.S. officials seem willing, in effect, to cut off their nose to spite their face. “I’ve been overtly and covertly serving America since I started in the armed services...I’m through... Every time an American goes through security, I want them to pause for a moment and think, What is my government doing to inconvenience the terrorists? Rendition teams, Predator drones, assassination squads. That’s all part of it... I’m going to teach high school... History and economics. I may even coach wrestling. Hey, Indiana Jones taught school, too.
    • Quoted in Tycoon, Contractor, Soldier, Spy, by Adam Ciralsky, Vanity Fair, December 2, 2009

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(most recent first)

  • When a real coup is attempted, we won’t have to wonder what it is. We will know, because it will not be conducted by bare-chested Rambo wannabes strutting about in Viking helmets and goofily mugging for selfies. It will be executed by serious, unsmiling, highly trained ex-Special-Ops professionals — the kind recruited by Erik Prince for his private mercenary armies, and likely funded by the quiet-but-deadly confraternity of nearly 100 ultra-conservative right-wing billionaires like David Koch, John Menard, Robert Mercer, Rebekah Mercer, and others... If and when a cabal does decide it is time to act and seize control of both the real and symbolic power centers needed to ensure the success of a coup...they will be able to rely on experts in overthrowing governments such as Erik Prince, who enjoys privileged access to the highest levels of the Pentagon and CIA, and where he has been working with top officials for years on covert action projects that, coincidentally, look very much like dress-rehearsals for a coup, except that, unlike the events of January 6, they were conducted in absolute secrecy.
  • United Nations investigators have found that Erik Prince — a Trump ally who founded the mercenary company Blackwater — broke a U.N. arms embargo on Libya by supporting a militia commander who was seeking to overthrow Libya’s internationally recognized government. The New York Times reports a confidential U.N. investigation reveals how Erik Prince deployed mercenaries, armed with attack aircraft, gunboats and cyberwarfare capabilities, to eastern Libya at the height of a major battle in 2019, in support of renegade former General Khalifa Haftar. Prince faces possible U.N. sanctions, including a travel ban and a freeze on his bank accounts and other assets.
  • After Panetta briefed members of Congress on Prince’s activities, Prince’s role in the CIA program leaked to the media. Prince felt badly burned, and he took his frustrations out by telling Vanity Fair about his CIA work, which burned his bridges at the spy agency. “The last thing [the CIA] wants, Panetta tells Rolling Stone, “is a yahoo who’s trying to play up what he’s doing as a lone-wolf approach to doing justice for the country.”... In January of 2017, Prince flew to the Seychelles... to meet with a Russian government official who was looking to make contacts with the incoming administration. The Russian official was Kirill Dmitriev, a former Goldman Sachs banker who headed Russia’s $10 billion sovereign wealth fund, which was subject to U.S. sanctions. Dmitriev reported directly to Russian President Vladimir Putin, whom he referred to as his “boss.” Prince told Mueller’s office that he and Dmitriev spent most of their time discussing oil prices.... Prince told Congress under oath that he and Dmitriev met once in the Seychelles. He later conceded they met twice... Prince still hasn’t gotten the military contract he had been lobbying for, but his other adventures in Trumpworld have recently come back to bite him. Prince was a member of the advisory board of a charity Bannon was promoting to raise private funds to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border....
  • After the invasion of Iraq, however, Blackwater grew far faster than Prince’s ability to manage it. The firm became, in Prince’s words, “something resembling its own branch of the military”... “They just ran out of people of the quality they needed,” a former senior U.S. military commander in Iraq tells Rolling Stone... Prince’s rising stock in post-9/11 America was also driven by his work with the CIA. According to Prince, he became an official asset, putting himself and his company’s resources at the spy agency’s disposal. Rolling Stone obtained an unpublished chapter of Prince’s book, which the CIA has blocked from release... Prince describes how, in addition to training CIA operatives and maintaining the agency’s drone fleet, he helped set up a program to train a terrorist hit squad at the behest of the spy agency. Prince writes that... he spent a “few million” recruiting and organizing a team of about a dozen foreign mercenaries... Prince says the off-the-books program had support...with then-Vice President Dick Cheney...Blackwater, but it soon fell apart — with deadly consequences. On September 16th, 2007, Blackwater personnel shot and killed 14 unarmed civilians in Nisour Square... The next day, the Iraqi government announced that it would revoke Blackwater’s license to operate and demanded to prosecute the Blackwater guards. The New York Times reported that Blackwater continued to operate in Iraq after Blackwater’s president authorized bribes of about $1 million to Iraqi officials, a charge Prince later dismissed as “false.”
  • In 2006, Erik Prince, founder of the private military company Blackwater, learned the United Arab Emirates was shopping for inexpensive light attack airplanes to support its special forces. Prince, then director of Presidential Airways, a Blackwater subsidiary, offered to develop a weaponized version of a cropduster. Presidential bought an Air Tractor AT-802A, yanked out the cropdusting equipment, added six hardpoints, and attached gun pods and dummy bombs. The prototype, displayed at the 2009 Paris Air Show, was to be transformed into the first of 24 production aircraft for the UAE, but the deal fell apart... Even Erik Prince still wants light attack airplanes: His new company Frontier Services Group, according to the website The Intercept, hired an Austrian company to arm Thrush cropdusters and send them to Africa. The deal fell through because it violated weapons export regulations.
  • Erik Prince can be a difficult man to wrap your mind around—an amalgam of contradictory caricatures. He has been branded a “Christian supremacist” who sanctions the murder of Iraqi civilians, yet he has built mosques at his overseas bases and supports a Muslim orphanage in Afghanistan. He and his family have long backed conservative causes, funded right-wing political candidates, and befriended evangelicals, but he calls himself a libertarian and is a practicing Roman Catholic. Sometimes considered arrogant and reclusive—Howard Hughes without the O.C.D.—he nonetheless enters competitions that combine mountain-biking, beach running, ocean kayaking, and rappelling... The common denominator is a relentless intensity that seems to have no Off switch. Seated in the back of a Boeing 777 en route to Afghanistan, Prince leafs through Defense News while the film Taken beams from the in-flight entertainment system.... Stepping off the plane at Kabul’s international airport, Prince is treated as if he, too, were Al Jazeera–worthy. He is immediately shuffled into a waiting car and driven 50 yards to a second vehicle, a beat-up minivan that is native to the core: animal pelts on the dashboard, prayer card dangling from the rearview mirror. Blackwater’s special-projects team is responsible for Prince’s security in-country, and except for their language its men appear indistinguishable from Afghans. They have full beards, headscarves, and traditional knee-length shirts over baggy trousers. They remove Prince’s sunglasses, fit him out with body armor, and have him change into Afghan garb...
    • Tycoon, Contractor, Soldier, Spy, by Adam Ciralsky, Vanity Fair, December 2, 2009
  • Families of seven more people who were killed, and 19 who were wounded in Blackwater's infamous Sept. 17, 2006 shootout in Baghdad's Nisoor Square have sued Blackwater, now known as Xe, its founder Erik Prince, and a Prince's network of mercenary companies, in Federal Court. These dead people left 19 children. Many of the surviving plaintiffs saw their loved ones killed and also were shot. As in two other cases filed this week, the plaintiffs demand punitive damages for war crimes, wrongful death, spoliation of evidence, and other charges.

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