Erik Prince, a former Navy SEAL and founder of the private military contractor Blackwater, says the biggest misconception about his company is that his employees are "out-of-control mercenaries."
"We were very much under control," Prince told "The Daily Show"
host Jon Stewart on Tuesday. "We were under control of the U.S. government."
Prince said he a veteran, and his company hired veterans.
"We went out and did the job that the U.S. government needed us to do," he said.
"But you are mercenaries," Stewart said.
Prince disputed that, saying mercenaries are hired to fight in a foreign war not their own. Blackwater employees were "Americans fighting for Americans in an American action overseas."
The Iraqi government kicked Blackwater out of the country after a September 16, 2007, firefight that left 17 civilians dead. Prince said the loss of innocent life was tragic, but his employees were responding to a car bomb threat.
The Iraqi government says the car in question was not loaded with a bomb and that the Blackwater guards fired on an innocent man and his mother.
Prince told Stewart his company ran more than 100,000 missions protecting diplomats trying to bring peace to the country.
"No one under our care was ever killed or injured," he said.
Prince said it was difficult having to work under government guidelines. State Department officials didn't want nondescript vehicles to move their diplomats in, preferring instead polished vehicles with sirens blaring which took the same route at the same time day after day. That, Prince said, made them an easy target.
He also would have preferred his group have been under the Uniform Code of Military Justice so incidents such as the Baghdad firefight could have been adjudicated closer to the site where people understood what was happening rather than in a far-removed courtroom in Iowa.
The U.S. government, he said, wouldn't allow it.
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