Monday, December 14, 2009

Blood For Profit

What if there were armed business men in bed with your state and federal government officials? Corporate mercenaries making midnight moves on the marital mattresses of our military leaders? Would you recognize them the morning after as they executed their walk of shame across Capitol Hill? Everyone knows that when private interests strip down with our politicians we’re the ones who get fucked, and this might be one of the dirtiest smut films you’ve ever been a part of.
Within the last ten years the US has seen a dramatic increase in the government’s endorsement of private military companies to provide services that are traditionally carried out by the US Armed Forces. Simply put, the US has outsourced a significant percentage of its military responsibilities to men armed beneath their Armani and women with Berettas tucked inside their braziers.

After the Cold War it became necessary to begin employing private companies to help expand technological aspects of war; weapons manufacturing became big business and a source of huge profits. Following the invasion of Iraq in 2003, specifically after an incident where contractors from the Blackwater Worldwide Corporation were murdered in Fallujah, the US media has become saturated with terms like “private military companies,” “military contractors,” and “security companies.” These businesses are actually manning our battlefields and participating in hands-on combat. It seems that these corporations are not only providing the weapons, their now providing the men to operate those weapons. Employees of these business battalions have become as dispensable as the bullets in their clips.

To illustrate the how prevalent the practice of hiring private soldiers and their companies has become in our contemporary military campaigns, according to the New York Times there are about 160,000 private military contractors fighting in Iraq. In the Gulf War which took place a mere fifteen years ago there were about 9,200. That is a 1700% increase within twenty years.

Considering military operations have a great effect on both foreign and domestic policy, it seems only reasonable that the people of our nation have a transparent view of who is in charge of managing our wars. There’s a wealth of controversies surrounding the private military companies, their command, conduct and control. Aside from the controversies involving the actual wars themselves, issues as basic as the general employment of the mercenaries, to the companies’ lack of accountability to the military are flourishing in media reports and public opinion. The most concerning problem facing the employment of these commercial enterprises is the number of specific incidences involving outright wrong doing on behalf of the soldiers for hire; incidences including the massacre on September 16th 2007 that resulted in 17 dead Iraqi civilians that the New York Times concluded was “unprovoked,” have left publications plastered with the names of these PMCs, expanding on their reputation. With controversy comes accountability, yet it is hard for the public to hold a faceless corporation accountable for anything.

Nearly every important industry has a face the public can associate with it. For media outlets the public can turn to Rupert Murdock, owner of countless information sources from television stations to newspapers. For the enormous corporation that provides questionable management practices at everyday low prices the people can turn to Sam Walton. What about the people making money off of blood? What face is there to put on those companies getting paid to do the job that our government and its citizen soldiers are responsible for? With this new layer of bureaucracy so ripe with the potential for corruption it’s about time the public look into these private interest prostitutes and figure out just whose lobbying for war.

Luckily within the last few years there has been a push for some accountability and transparency into the top executives who reap fatten their pockets waging our wars. In Jeremy Scahill’s Blackwater: the Rise of the World’s Most Powerful Mercenary Army the author provides a historical account regarding the formation of the most famous (or perhaps infamous) private military company, Blackwater Worldwide (now Xe). The novel is as shocking as it is distressing and exposes the PMC’s capacity to skirt around the rules and the overall secretive nature of the corporation and its executives. One key passage exemplifying the clandestine character of these executives is Scahill’s depiction of Blackwater owner Erik Prince’s visit to Capitol Hill for his testimony for the “Hearing on Private Security Contracting in Iraq and Afghanistan.” After outing the attempts by Republican senators sitting in on the hearing to end it before it even began, Scahill also illustrates the well calculated attempts by these higher-ups to stay out of the limelight, “Before that warm October day in Washington in 2007, he had shunned the spotlight, and his people were known to stifle journalists’ attempts at taking his picture. When Prince did appear in public, it was almost exclusively at military conferences, where his role was to extol the virtues of his company and its work for the U.S. government.”

Although there is a growing journalistic movement dedicated to uncovering the secretes harbored by these companies and outing the unelected businessmen who have been contracted to carry out our military responsibilities, public knowledge is still relatively limited. By providing a background of a few key players of the Xe Corporation including an expansive profile o the owner, the fundamental issues surrounding the management of these corporations, and the obvious potential for these companies to be breeding grounds for corruption should become evident. If nothing else, the next time that you hear about someone being murdered at the hands of a US sponsored mercenary you can at least put a face on the man who issued the orders. These are the men lobbying for war.

It should be noted that the majority of this information is completely impossible to find on the website. Instead it is necessary to find out works the corporation from outside sources.

Erik Prince, founder and chairman of Xe-

Born: June 6, 1969

Birthplace: Holland Michigan
Political Affiliation: Republican

Religious Affiliation: (converted) Roman Catholic

40 year old Erik D. Prince is the sole owner of Xe which employs 600 full-time employees in the U.S. and 2,000 contractors across the globe. Until March 2, 2009 he was CEO. In 2009 following multiple publicized controversies he resigned from position of CEO though he still retains the position as the company’s chairman.

Prince graduated from Holland Christian High School, attended the US Naval Academy and transferred to Hillsdale College where he would eventually graduate. Hillsdale was described by the National Review as a “citadel for conservatism.”

In 1992 he joined the US Navy and served as a NAVY SEAL being deployed all over the world including working on what he referred to as “secret missions in Haiti and Bosnia.” After his father, founder of Prince automotive, died he took up an enormous inheritance.

In 1997 he bought 6,000 acres of land in North Carolina and with help of former ex-Navy SEAL Al Clark opened up what would become Blackwater Worldwide in North Carolina. Blackwater is described as a “US Training center” providing the necessary training for security and military positions. Clark left early in the inception of Blackwater, though it is speculated that the notion of a one stop military training facility was his idea and that Prince simply provided the funding.

Since 1986 Prince has personally donated over $230,000 to Republican causes and has also donated to the right-wing Christian conservative legal organization the Alliance Defense Fund. Despite his intense religious relationship he has told Newsweek, "I'm a practicing Roman Catholic, but you don't have to be Catholic, you don't have to be a Christian to work for Blackwater." Still a defense-industry newsletter quoted him as using a biblical reference as a method of advertising his company, "Everybody carries guns, just like Jeremiah rebuilding the Temple in Israel, a sword in one hand, a trowel in the other.”

In 2007 Prince claimed that 90 percent of Blackwater revenue came from the US government.

On October 2, 2007 Prince was called into Congress to testify on behalf of his company after a barrage of controversies involving the company. When asked for financial information about his company he responded 'We're a private company. There's a key word there - private.”

On August 3, 2009 two former Blackwater employees including a former Navy SEAL alleged that Prince had murdered or arranged the murder of individuals who were cooperating with the US government to investigate the company. The accusers also included the statement that Prince "views himself as a Christian crusader tasked with eliminating Muslims and the Islamic faith from the globe.”

Prominent Political Ties:

Among various religious contributions, according to Scahill’s book he has made personal financial contributions to:

President George W. Bush

Sen. Jesse Helms (R-NC)
Rep. Richard Pombo (R-CA)
Rep. Dick Chrysler (R-MI)
Rep. Rick Santorum (R-PA)

Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK)
Rep. Tom DeLay (R-TX)Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC)

Rep. Mike Pence (R-IN)
Sen. Jon Kyl (R-AZ)
Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-CA)

In 1990, Prince worked as an intern for Rep. Dana Rohrabacher’s (R-CA).

In 1992 he served as a White House intern under President George H.W. Bush .
He interned at Gary Baur’s Family Research Council that his father helped found. The Family Research Council is a Religious Right foundation that promotes the views of the conservative church.


Joseph Schmitz- On August 26, 2005 Joseph Schmitz informed the Pentagon that he would resign as Inspector General for the Department of Defense to work for Blackwater as Chief Operating Officer. He still maintains a position under the Prince Group, the mother company of Blackwater. While working for the pentagon as Inspector General he was in control of defense contracts and contributed to the largest increase in military contracting ever just before joining Blackwater. Schmitz is also a devout Catholic contributing to various Religious Right foundations.

Robert Richer- Originally tagged onto Blackwater as Vice President for Intelligence; Robert Richer “left” Blackwater to form Total Intelligence Solutions, a Prince Group company, with Cofer Black. Richer is a former Marine and worked for ten months as deputy director of the CIA.

Cofer Black- From beginning in 2005 Cofer Black served as Vice Chairman for Blackwater, until when he left in 2008 to focus on the sister company, Total Intelligence Solutions that he had formed with Robert Richer. Prior to joining Blackwater he worked for 28 years in Directorate of Operations for the CIA. In 1999 was appointed to director of the CIA’s Counterterrorist Center. From 2002 to 2004 he served as Coordinator and Ambassador at Large for the Department of State’s counter-terrorism unit under Colin Powell.

Although the new faces of the Blackwater higher up are not afraid to advertise their conservative political alignment, president Joe Yorio and C.O.O Danielle Esposito have little government affiliations. This was arguably a maneuver used by Blackwater to avoid any obvious controversial connections.

Clearly there are some serious relationships between these cowboy corporate commanders and key players of the political arena. It raises questions as to who else may be on the Prince payroll. Inevitably there will be secretes held within government and military operations, but when the military becomes a high profit business it is important to understand who has the most to gain from bloodshed. These secretes will not be as easily kept with media attention being able to provide insight into the actions taken by the executives. Still, with a decrease in the number of men and women citizens enlisting into the services, privatized military companies continue to flourish. Blood for profit continues to be a looming reality hanging over the head of our collective military organizations and the country as a whole.

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