Posted by: shannynmoore | August 4, 2009

Blackwater Founder Implicated in Murder

The Nation’s site is overwhelmed right now.  This is a remarkable story by a tenacious reporter; one of my heroes for his work.

Published on Tuesday, August 4, 2009 by The Nation

by Jeremy Scahill

A former Blackwater employee and an ex-US Marine who has worked as a security operative for the company have made a series of explosive allegations in sworn statements filed on August 3 in federal court in Virginia. The two men claim that the company’s owner, Erik Prince, may have murdered or facilitated the murder of individuals who were cooperating with federal authorities investigating the company. The former employee also alleges that Prince “views himself as a Christian crusader tasked with eliminating Muslims and the Islamic faith from the globe,” and that Prince’s companies “encouraged and rewarded the destruction of Iraqi life.”Erik Prince

In their testimony, both men also allege that Blackwater was smuggling weapons into Iraq. One of the men alleges that Prince turned a profit by transporting “illegal” or “unlawful” weapons into the country on Prince’s private planes. They also charge that Prince and other Blackwater executives destroyed incriminating videos, emails and other documents and have intentionally deceived the US State Department and other federal agencies. The identities of the two individuals were sealed out of concerns for their safety.

These allegations, and a series of other charges, are contained in sworn affidavits, given under penalty of perjury, filed late at night on August 3 in the Eastern District of Virginia as part of a seventy-page motion by lawyers for Iraqi civilians suing Blackwater for alleged war crimes and other misconduct. Susan Burke, a private attorney working in conjunction with the Center for Constitutional Rights, is suing Blackwater in five separate civil cases filed in the Washington, DC, area. They were recently consolidated before Judge T.S. Ellis III of the Eastern District of Virginia for pretrial motions. Burke filed the August 3 motion in response to Blackwater’s motion to dismiss the case. Blackwater asserts that Prince and the company are innocent of any wrongdoing and that they were professionally performing their duties on behalf of their employer, the US State Department.

The former employee, identified in the court documents as “John Doe #2,” is a former member of Blackwater’s management team, according to a source close to the case. Doe #2 alleges in a sworn declaration that, based on information provided to him by former colleagues, “it appears that Mr. Prince and his employees murdered, or had murdered, one or more persons who have provided information, or who were planning to provide information, to the federal authorities about the ongoing criminal conduct.” John Doe #2 says he worked at Blackwater for four years; his identity is concealed in the sworn declaration because he “fear[s] violence against me in retaliation for submitting this Declaration.” He also alleges, “On several occasions after my departure from Mr. Prince’s employ, Mr. Prince’s management has personally threatened me with death and violence.”

In a separate sworn statement, the former US marine who worked for Blackwater in Iraq alleges that he has “learned from my Blackwater colleagues and former colleagues that one or more persons who have provided information, or who were planning to provide information about Erik Prince and Blackwater have been killed in suspicious circumstances.” Identified as “John Doe #1,” he says he “joined Blackwater and deployed to Iraq to guard State Department and other American government personnel.” It is not clear if Doe #1 is still working with the company as he states he is “scheduled to deploy in the immediate future to Iraq.” Like Doe #2, he states that he fears “violence” against him for “submitting this Declaration.” No further details on the alleged murder(s) are provided.

“Mr. Prince feared, and continues to fear, that the federal authorities will detect and prosecute his various criminal deeds,” states Doe #2. “On more than one occasion, Mr. Prince and his top managers gave orders to destroy emails and other documents. Many incriminating videotapes, documents and emails have been shredded and destroyed.”

The Nation cannot independently verify the identities of the two individuals, their roles at Blackwater or what motivated them to provide sworn testimony in these civil cases. Both individuals state that they have previously cooperated with federal prosecutors conducting a criminal inquiry into Blackwater.

“It’s a pending investigation, so we cannot comment on any matters in front of a Grand Jury or if a Grand Jury even exists on these matters,” John Roth, the spokesperson for the US Attorney’s office in the District of Columbia, told The Nation. “It would be a crime if we did that.” Asked specifically about whether there is a criminal investigation into Prince regarding the murder allegations and other charges, Roth said: “We would not be able to comment on what we are or are not doing in regards to any possible investigation involving an uncharged individual.”

The Nation repeatedly attempted to contact spokespeople for Prince or his companies at numerous email addresses and telephone numbers. When a company representative was reached by phone and asked to comment, she said, “Unfortunately no one can help you in that area.” The representative then said that she would pass along The Nation‘s request. As this article goes to press, no company representative has responded further to The Nation.

Doe #2 states in the declaration that he has also provided the information contained in his statement “in grand jury proceedings convened by the United States Department of Justice.” Federal prosecutors convened a grand jury in the aftermath of the September 16, 2007, Nisour Square shootings in Baghdad, which left seventeen Iraqis dead. Five Blackwater employees are awaiting trial on several manslaughter charges and a sixth, Jeremy Ridgeway, has already pleaded guilty to manslaughter and attempting to commit manslaughter and is cooperating with prosecutors. It is not clear whether Doe #2 testified in front of the Nisour Square grand jury or in front of a separate grand jury.

The two declarations are each five pages long and contain a series of devastating allegations concerning Erik Prince and his network of companies, which now operate under the banner of Xe Services LLC. Among those leveled by Doe #2 is that Prince “views himself as a Christian crusader tasked with eliminating Muslims and the Islamic faith from the globe”:

To that end, Mr. Prince intentionally deployed to Iraq certain men who shared his vision of Christian supremacy, knowing and wanting these men to take every available opportunity to murder Iraqis. Many of these men used call signs based on the Knights of the Templar, the warriors who fought the Crusades.

Mr. Prince operated his companies in a manner that encouraged and rewarded the destruction of Iraqi life. For example, Mr. Prince’s executives would openly speak about going over to Iraq to “lay Hajiis out on cardboard.” Going to Iraq to shoot and kill Iraqis was viewed as a sport or game. Mr. Prince’s employees openly and consistently used racist and derogatory terms for Iraqis and other Arabs, such as “ragheads” or “hajiis.”

Among the additional allegations made by Doe #1 is that “Blackwater was smuggling weapons into Iraq.” He states that he personally witnessed weapons being “pulled out” from dog food bags. Doe #2 alleges that “Prince and his employees arranged for the weapons to be polywrapped and smuggled into Iraq on Mr. Prince’s private planes, which operated under the name Presidential Airlines,” adding that Prince “generated substantial revenues from participating in the illegal arms trade.”

Doe #2 states: “Using his various companies, [Prince] procured and distributed various weapons, including unlawful weapons such as sawed off semi-automatic machine guns with silencers, through unlawful channels of distribution.” Blackwater “was not abiding by the terms of the contract with the State Department and was deceiving the State Department,” according to Doe #1.

This is not the first time an allegation has surfaced that Blackwater used dog food bags to smuggle weapons into Iraq. ABC News’s Brian Ross reported in November 2008 that a “federal grand jury in North Carolina is investigating allegations the controversial private security firm Blackwater illegally shipped assault weapons and silencers to Iraq, hidden in large sacks of dog food.” Another former Blackwater employee has also confirmed this information to The Nation.

Both individuals allege that Prince and Blackwater deployed individuals to Iraq who, in the words of Doe #1, “were not properly vetted and cleared by the State Department.” Doe #2 adds that “Prince ignored the advice and pleas from certain employees, who sought to stop the unnecessary killing of innocent Iraqis.” Doe #2 further states that some Blackwater officials overseas refused to deploy “unfit men” and sent them back to the US. Among the reasons cited by Doe #2 were “the men making statements about wanting to deploy to Iraq to ‘kill ragheads’ or achieve ‘kills’ or ‘body counts,'” as well as “excessive drinking” and “steroid use.” However, when the men returned to the US, according to Doe #2, “Prince and his executives would send them back to be deployed in Iraq with an express instruction to the concerned employees located overseas that they needed to ‘stop costing the company money.'”

Doe #2 also says Prince “repeatedly ignored the assessments done by mental health professionals, and instead terminated those mental health professionals who were not willing to endorse deployments of unfit men.” He says Prince and then-company president Gary Jackson “hid from Department of State the fact that they were deploying men to Iraq over the objections of mental health professionals and security professionals in the field,” saying they “knew the men being deployed were not suitable candidates for carrying lethal weaponry, but did not care because deployments meant more money.”

Doe #1 states that “Blackwater knew that certain of its personnel intentionally used excessive and unjustified deadly force, and in some instances used unauthorized weapons, to kill or seriously injure innocent Iraqi civilians.” He concludes, “Blackwater did nothing to stop this misconduct.” Doe #1 states that he “personally observed multiple incidents of Blackwater personnel intentionally using unnecessary, excessive and unjustified deadly force.” He then cites several specific examples of Blackwater personnel firing at civilians, killing or “seriously” wounding them, and then failing to report the incidents to the State Department.

Doe #1 also alleges that “all of these incidents of excessive force were initially videotaped and voice recorded,” but that “Immediately after the day concluded, we would watch the video in a session called a ‘hot wash.’ Immediately after the hotwashing, the video was erased to prevent anyone other than Blackwater personnel seeing what had actually occurred.” Blackwater, he says, “did not provide the video to the State Department.”

Doe #2 expands on the issue of unconventional weapons, alleging Prince “made available to his employees in Iraq various weapons not authorized by the United States contracting authorities, such as hand grenades and hand grenade launchers. Mr. Prince’s employees repeatedly used this illegal weaponry in Iraq, unnecessarily killing scores of innocent Iraqis.” Specifically, he alleges that Prince “obtained illegal ammunition from an American company called LeMas. This company sold ammunition designed to explode after penetrating within the human body. Mr. Prince’s employees repeatedly used this illegal ammunition in Iraq to inflict maximum damage on Iraqis.”

Blackwater has gone through an intricate rebranding process in the twelve years it has been in business, changing its name and logo several times. Prince also has created more than a dozen affiliate companies, some of which are registered offshore and whose operations are shrouded in secrecy. According to Doe #2, “Prince created and operated this web of companies in order to obscure wrongdoing, fraud and other crimes.”

“For example, Mr. Prince transferred funds from one company (Blackwater) to another (Greystone) whenever necessary to avoid detection of his money laundering and tax evasion schemes.” He added: “Mr. Prince contributed his personal wealth to fund the operations of the Prince companies whenever he deemed such funding necessary. Likewise, Mr. Prince took funds out of the Prince companies and placed the funds in his personal accounts at will.”

Briefed on the substance of these allegations by The Nation, Congressman Dennis Kucinich replied, “If these allegations are true, Blackwater has been a criminal enterprise defrauding taxpayers and murdering innocent civilians.” Kucinich is on the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform and has been investigating Prince and Blackwater since 2004.

“Blackwater is a law unto itself, both internationally and domestically. The question is why they operated with impunity. In addition to Blackwater, we should be questioning their patrons in the previous administration who funded and employed this organization. Blackwater wouldn’t exist without federal patronage; these allegations should be thoroughly investigated,” Kucinich said.

A hearing before Judge Ellis in the civil cases against Blackwater is scheduled for August 7.

Copyright © 2009 The Nation

Responses

  1. The house of cards is coming down!

    Next to fall – Dick Cheney?

    • Keep yer finners crossed!

  2. Wow – great catch Shannyn

  3. Keep up the great work you are doing on your blog… I like Keith Olbermann too and yes, he did a tremendous job Monday (8-3-09) on the “Special Comment” segment calling out the sellouts in Congress (on both sides) to big pharma and the Health Insurance Industry and their lobbyists.

    • It’s posted two down from this post. It was one of his best.

  4. Shannyn thank you. What a wonderful story and hopefully will connect the dots into full circle — what goes around, comes around.

  5. Wow! Pretty scary stuff. Crusaders scare the crap out of me. Just as bad as the Islamic extremists. Our own homebrewed terroists at work and santioned by the government. Yeah sure, we’re the good guys. See, we wear the white hats.

  6. Jeremy Scahill will be on KO tonight.

  7. Damn, almost like “Starkwood” from 24 was based on real events!

  8. Holy S***! Thank you for posting that. The wheels of justice grind slowly, here’s hoping they grind exceedingly fine.

  9. The paranoid mind might ask why the story of the Journalists broke just before this story, preempting the media frenzy that might have followed if it weren’t for a jubilant return of American citizens from the mouth of evil, Kim…

  10. This reporter is also one of my heroes, but I will be surprized if he makes more impact now than he has in the past. I know that’s pessimistic. The Blackwater story was shocking enough 5 years ago when it broke–there were Congressional hearings but little or nothing substantive came from them.

  11. I wish these scums would finally get what they deserve. But this has all been known for five years now, so I have my doubts.

  12. Shannyn, KeithO and Rachel are a never-miss at our house. Thanks so much for covering this story.

    Our country needs it’s image polished. Holding people responsible for their actions is a good start.

  13. It’s coming out… but Cheney will hard to break. He’s been king too long to go down easy

    • typo. will be, will be

  14. I wish I could say this is unbelievable, but unfortunately it is not. I remember last year when Blackwater wanted to open a “training facility” in the Back Country of East San Diego County. Thank goodness it was vociferously defeated. This ties in with all the other “Christian Warrior” movements going on, like C Street. They think they have the right to educate “the masses” and if there is resistance, they think nothing of killing innocent people. It is certainly the modern day Crusades. Thanks for posting this Shannyn. I certainly hope people are waking up.

  15. These people are not healthy to be around. They don’t like free speech, people of color or our Constitution do they?

  16. I wish these “Christian crusaders” would actually read the Bible once in a while. In the OT, God has made it abundantly clear that mixing government and religion does not please Him. God also has NOT given any command to kill Muslims (or any other religious group). In fact, in the NT we are told that if a person does not want to hear the Gospel from us, we are to shake the dust off our shoes and leave. Allah say, “Join or die.” Jesus say, “Choose.” These Blackwater people are acting like Muslims, not like Christians.

  17. Firing squad at dawn for Prince.

  18. Erik Prince’s mother was a big contributor to the Prop 8 CA initiative last fall.

  19. Good job Shannyn! Reading this news helps me have hope that our nation will do the right thing, and bring these thugs to justice. Bravo to the brave men who spoke out. They knew they were taking a chance, but stood strong.

  20. Why am I not surprised? This man’s private army should be disbanded. His mercenaries function as rogue murder for hire bandits. They are people who want to be cowboys and can do little else but kill. This group is particularly dangerous because of its leader’s fundamentalist Christian beliefs. Individuals should never be allowed to amass a private army such as this with armed helicopters, etc.

  21. I am not surprised.

  22. I’m having a hard time getting my jaw off the floor right now.

    How many billions of dollars did we pay this outfit?

    The mercenary group + the underground christianist cult = anarchy = al qaeda. Just saying.

  23. Can Bush Cheney be far behind???

  24. INDICT BUSH CHENEY!

  25. Prince is dangerous; but he couldn’t have gotten where he and his companies are today without help. Kucinich is right; we need to dig down deep into this festering scab that is Blackwater and what exactly it has been doing in Iraq and other black holes around the world. Without a doubt Cheney is involved, it was my first thought when this story broke. The question now is will there be actual investigations and indictments?

  26. OMG. Just when you think things could not possibly be worse, there you go. Another heaping pile of ugly.

    The more that comes to light, the more embarrassing it is to be American. These are not my countrymen, this is not what my country stands for. Yet I am faced with proof positive that these are my countrymen, and this apparently (with blessings from the Bush administration) is what my country stands for.

    When did we take that wrong turn and become a nation of terrorists?

  27. Erik Prince, et all. Mercenaries, murders for hire.

    The Christian Fundamentalist Terrorists connection only makes it worse.

  28. As much as Erik Prince hates and fears Islam, as much as he wants to kill Muslims indiscriminately, he still wants Sharia law to decide the case pending against him in Afghanistan, because Sharia law will let his company of the hook and leave the widows of three US servicemen in the lurch.
    http://snarla.wordpress.com/2008/06/20/islamic-law-a-okay-says-christianist-businessman/

    When asked to justify having a case involving an American company working for the U.S. government decided by Afghan law, Prince said: “Where did the crash occur? Afghanistan.”

    The case is still pending.

  29. I’m so grateful we kicked Blackwater out of San Diego. Gee. That’s at least two commandments shot to shreds; Thou shalt not kill and Thou shalt not bear false witness.

    What do you want to bet there’s some stealing in there too.

    Throw in some adultery and you’ve got a clean sweep. Wonder if C. Street has a room for the Prince of Heaves?

  30. Just goes to show how some christians think murder and mayhem is ok and condone it.No surprise about Black water but I agree will anything actually be done. Christian values my patooti ,Christian terrorist all around,and the so called christian fundamentalist are afraid of the black helicopters when they are the ones flying them

    • Yes, these are the Xians. I can’t see Jesus in them.

      • Jesus, save me from your followers! (At least, some of them.)

  31. I am not surprised that this went on I am just surprised people are coming forward. Clearly their lives are in danger. These racist religious sociopaths tore up Iraq on purpose and murdered Iraq’s citizens. People wonder why the people in that part of the world hate us.
    Erik Prince was born to wealth and priviledge. He is alligned with republicans. He did Bush’s bidding and the justice system under the Bush/Cheney regime protected them as part of their team. Not only did our department of justice protect them from prosecution Blackwater covered up evidence by many methods. There are a lot of really scarey people who work for Blackwater.
    The Dept of Justice was corrupted all the way to the core during the Bush/Cheney regime. In Alaska Swobodney(DOJ) told me no one would ever investigate an ADA who maliciously prosecuted me. He screamed at me on the phone and then hung up on me. I do not have to look far to figure out he is a right wing religious nut because if he was not Palin would not have made him acting AG. It will take us years to get these people weeded out of our government and bring our country back to democracy.

  32. Blackwater or Xe (as it changed it’s name to a couple of years ago) is located in my home state. NC has been investigating allegations against them for several years now and I like many others here do not understand why it is taking so long. The only reason we came up with is that this company was being protected from the highest level of government – the Cheney/Bush adm.

  33. I would say that it is taking so long because the Iraqi citizens lawyers want to insure they have an airtight case. Prince and his family are extremely rich so you know he’ll trot out a ton of high priced hired legal guns to protect Eric and their vast fortune.

    I continue to be outraged (there is so much in this country to be outraged over) by the fact that the American government continues to employ these thugs after the mountain of evidence of their illegal activities has surfaced. This is the same bunch that have drawn weapons on US Soldiers so put nothing past them. The United States doesn’t need a private standing army that answers to no one. This country doesn’t need a political party (Republican) and idealogy (fundamental Christian) that has their own mercenary army. Why this is allowed to exist is beyond me.

    What exactly does the elite in this country have to do to go to jail for their crimes? Well, finally we may find out the answer to that question. Will Prince go to jail? In this era of the two tiered justice system I would doubt it but maybe this time one of these Bush syncophants will be held accountable.

  34. I’ve always wondered why Jeremy Scahill seemed so “keyed up”, always really upset, sometimes seething – like acute grief, and now I know why.

    I read his book on Blackwater and yeah, they are really bad characters. I knew they were super-duper Christians, but the Christo-FASCIST thing seems to have taken deep deep root under the Bush Admin – in more diabolical ways than just “Abstinence Only”.

    I’ve always regarded war as hell, but I thought as a 1st world nation the least we would do for a people that we are claiming to assist would be to count their dead – I think its shameful that the Bush Admin neglected this most basic human right – the acknowledgment of one’s death. Now this man’s (and perhaps others’) crimes have been covered up with billions of dollars in foreign contractor spending in the middle east.

    Stimulus spending is great for Arab warlords but bad for U.S. construction contractors, is this kind of logic taught in megachurches?

    I can’t help but wonder if Prince’s activities qualify as Treason.

  35. Blackwater new name Xe = (X) Christian (e) Evangelicals?

    Interesting aside to the Blackwater contracts–they were contracted to patrol New Orleans after Katrina with big guns. Remember that there were some political Christians who felt that God ‘ridded’ NO of undesirables, namely the citizens of the 9th Ward.

    We should not really be surprised by any of this unholy ‘righteousness.’ Lord have mercy on us all.

  36. TY for posting this.

    And whomever condoned Blackwater’s “methods” is equally guilty.

    Such evil and such hate cannot be condoned by our government.

    Gees, dowl, I hadn’t thought of that: what Xe might stand for.

    Why oh why is it that it is always the most evil things that are done in the name of God or Christ? And by whacked people who think they are doing good?

  37. maybe we need to allow some foreign ‘terrorists’ to slip by the border so they can pay a visit to Prince Erik and settle a score. What a farce and mess created by Bush, Cheney, Repugs, Right Wing Political Fanatics, extreme unChristian Christians and war profiteering Corporations including Energy Corps. have wrecked on America this past decade. What a mess good Americans and Pres. Obama have to clean up.

  38. Thanks for the post, Shannyn. This orgainization is run like the Sicilian Mafia – with absolute silence.
    I’m amazed it took these two guys YEARS to find the cojones to speak out!
    We ALL need to email Kucinich and encourage him to press forward until shrub, dickwad and rummy join Madoff for their henious warcrimes.
    Go girl!

  39. The problem is that some people are so egotistical that, instead of attempting to fashion themselves in God’s image, they twist God’s word into their own image. They will certainly be in for a surprise when they meet their Maker.

    • Amen to that.

      “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thorns, or figs from thistles?” Matthew 7:15,16

  40. Sick and so sad, that people would be so cruel and enjoy it. Hard to believe.

    So, since Palin and Cambell are mixed up in the Alaska National Guard, and Cambell basically said the state and feds need to be on equal ground when it comes to defending AK all because of what happened during Katrina. So Blackwater was hired to guard New Orleans by the Bush administration, does all this perhaps have a connection? C-street Repubs, Bush/Cheney, Blackwater, Cambell, Palin, religious extremists, US defense.

    I kinda think so.

    read this about Campbell and read the comments……..Campbell’s confirmation needs heavy investigating!

    BTW……when he and Scarah went to to Kosavo did he wear 3 stars on his uniform? Just askin.

    And wasn’t there whispers of whether Scarah broke military law by “politicking”? Again just askin.

    http://www.andrewhalcro.com/a_filtered_letter_to_the_governor

  41. This is especially infuriating because those who resisted the Iraq invasion and ongoing slaughter of innocent people have known about Blackwater for years, and Congress knew about it. Yet our own government hires Blackwater as a contractor and pays them obscene amounts of money to “provide private security”.
    They are out of Iraq or will be soon. But they are still operating and will not go out of business because of these revelations. I believe there may be no one who can control them, because they make money selling weapons and may not need US government contracts.
    We knew about this years ago, those who were watching the horror that was the unfolding of the occupation of Iraq, watching the death toll of Iraqis mount at a rate many magnitudes greater than the toll of US and “coalition of the willing” troops. How can we in this country support a private militia (actually more than one)? They are lawless white supremacists and it is a lawlessness that is condoned and promoted by our own government.
    I am crying, and I will be crying, for the Iraqi people.
    There is a Blackwater website to see what they are up to, still, today. And there is a huge entry on Wikipedia with many references just for starters.
    Finally, a bit of justice!

  42. Blackwater is a group of for profit killers. So these accusations aren’t all that surprising.

    That is why it is so very very wrong for this or any country to use private armies.

    Their loyalty is not to the Constitution, as the military’s is, or our laws, or even our government. They take no oath to protect us as a nation or as individuals or to uphold our laws and freedoms. Their loyalty is to who ever pays them.

    Their potential to become an SS type of homeland force to be used against Americans is very real as there are many thousands of such heavily armed mercenaries being used in this country already.

  43. This is freaking huge. I hope that every aspect of Blackwater’s operations are investigated to the fullest and prosecuted to the fullest where appropriate.

    It literally makes me sick thinking about what some men/women in Blackwater’s employ did, in my name, in Iraq. I will not get over being sick until our government no longer pays this company (whatever name and logo they go by these days) for any of their special “services.”

  44. “The ambush of the four Blackwater personnel prompted a major military offensive, known as the First Battle of Fallujah, which began four days later on April 4, 2004. The battle, which lasted until May 1, 2004, resulted in the deaths of at least 36 U.S. servicemen, approximately 200 insurgents, and an estimated 600 Iraqi civilians.1 Military observers have credited the intensity of the U.S. offensive in Fallujah with aggravating the negative Iraqi sentiment towards the coalition occupation and fueling an escalation of the insurgency.2”

    http://www.c-span.org/pdf/
    blackw…water100207.pdf


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