Tags: Iraq | MidPoint | Blackwater | guilty | Erik Prince | trial

Blackwater Founder: Anger, Politics Fueled Guilty Verdicts

By    |   Tuesday, 28 Oct 2014 04:15 PM

One of the most reviled figures of the Iraq War, military contractor Erik Prince, told Newsmax TV on Tuesday that criminal prosecutions of his former employees, and the hostility aimed at him and his onetime company, Blackwater, echo the left's old vilification of American soldiers in Vietnam.

Prince also told "MidPoint" host Ed Berliner that four Blackwater guards convicted on Wednesday in a 2007 shooting incident in Baghdad's Nisour Square have grounds to appeal their convictions.

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"There's a lot of politics that surrounds the events," Prince said of the shootings on Sept. 17, 2007, in Baghdad's Nisour Square, which left 17 Iraqi civilians dead and fanned criticism of the U.S. occupation of Iraq.

"The bureaucratic attacks the company withstood because of this, it's all wrapped into, I would say, the anger over the Iraq war," said Prince. "And in the Vietnam War, the anti-war left went after the troops. And this time they went after contractors, and Blackwater represented everything they loved to hate."

Prince is no longer affiliated with the company, which has been sold twice and undergone two name changes, and now does business with the Pentagon and other entities as Academi.

In the interim, the U.S. government spent seven years and, by Prince's estimate, "tens of millions of dollars" pursuing criminal charges against Blackwater guards who opened fire in the square believing they had come under attack.

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The shootings led to questions about the presence of contractors in Iraq who guarded convoys and personnel from insurgent attacks, suicide bombers and other threats as the country turned more violent.

The four Blackwater guards all claimed self-defense. A federal jury in Washington, D.C., convicted one of first-degree murder and three others of manslaughter.

"It's important to know that the government is now one-for-two in this case," said Prince. "The first time they brought a trial, the case was thrown out for prosecutorial misconduct by the judge. The guys have a lot of good avenues for appeal. They have good legal representation and I'm sure they'll maximize their options there."

Challenging the portrayal of Blackwater employees as lawless mercenaries, Prince said, "It's also important to remember that these were four veterans, all prior U.S. military servicemen, [who] volunteered once to serve their country and … volunteered to go back again, serving their country in a very difficult, dangerous place."

Prince, author of the memoir, "Civilian Warriors: The Inside Story of Blackwater and the Unsung Heroes of the War on Terror," also said the four would have been treated differently as soldiers.

"I'm quite confident that if they'd been in uniform, this amount of controversy wouldn't have surrounded the issue," he said.

He said his employees were not simply hired hands, but Americans operating alongside U.S. troops, and should have been covered by the Uniform Code of Military Justice — "the same law that you're under when you're active-duty in the military," he said — but the State Department objected.

He also said civilian contractors in war zones represent the future, especially in conflicts against the likes of the Islamic State (ISIS).

"The fact is, the era of battlefield contractors is going to come back in a very large way," said Prince.

"In this case, you have an enemy that's hard to find but easy to kill," he said of the Islamic State forces terrorizing Syria and Iraq, "and you need to be able to be small, mobile, agile and low-cost, and have a very small footprint."

Asked whether a Blackwater-like force could defeat the Islamic State, Prince said, "A competent private contractor, properly led and motivated, could accomplish that mission, yes. … I would say in less than 12 months."

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Military contractor Erik Prince, told Newsmax TV on Tuesday that criminal prosecutions of his former employees, and the hostility aimed at him and his onetime company, Blackwater, echo the left's old vilification of American soldiers in Vietnam.
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Tuesday, 28 Oct 2014 04:15 PM
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