Saturday, August 08, 2009

Blackwater Founder Implicated In Murder


Jeremy Scahill is one gutsy and tenacious repoter. Several years ago I wrote an article about Blackwater's founder, Eric Prince, and his many connections to the far right-wing Christian extremists. Their role in Iraq, and their connections to the White House have long been a major concern for me - looks like I was right. Please give this article the respect that it deserves...

TO THE NATION ARTICLE & LINKS

Blackwater Founder Implicated in Murder
By Jeremy Scahill

August 4, 2009


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."


Jeremy Scahill: Despite the State Department's announcement canceling Blackwater's contracts in Iraq, the Obama administration will pay the company more than $174 million for security services in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Blackwater or Murder, Inc.?
Blackwater

Countdown : Between the illegal weapons, explosive ammunition and the possibility that Blackwater operatives killed civilians as practice, the picture of the military contractor gets darker by the day.
Will Blackwater Founder Face Charges?
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GRIT TV : Erik Prince has been implicated in murder, viewed himself as a Christian crusader tasked with eliminating Muslims from the globe and his company smuggled weapons into Iraq.

US Still Paying Blackwater Millions
Blackwater

Jeremy Scahill: Despite the State Department's announcement canceling Blackwater's contracts in Iraq, the Obama administration will pay the company more than $174 million for security services in Iraq and Afghanistan.


Jeremy Scahill: Sworn statements filed in Federal Court allege that Blackwater founder Erik Prince launched a "crusade" to eliminate Muslims and Islam.
White House is Whistling Past Afghan Graveyard
Russell Feingold

Jeremy Scahill: In an exclusive interview with The Nation, Sen. Russ Feingold defends his lone vote to oppose the latest amendment to the Defense Authorization bill.

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.

About Jeremy Scahill
Jeremy Scahill, a Puffin Foundation Writing Fellow at The Nation Institute, is the author of the bestselling Blackwater: The Rise of the World's Most Powerful Mercenary Army, published by Nation Books. He is an award-winning investigative journalist and correspondent for the national radio and TV program Democracy Now!. more...

20 comments:

  1. I worked over in Iraq as a civilian. A lot of times his company was the only protection we could get. It is really fucked up what they are doing to the man.

    Almost as bad as that snitch Floyd molesting his own retard son.

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  2. Consider the following incident.

    When Barack Hussein Obama rolled into town for his – by invitation only – town hall meeting in Bristol Virginia, average citizens, desperate to make their voices heard, gathered on sidewalks and curbs along the route of Obama’s motorcade holding homemade signs opposing ObamaCare.

    One of the peaceful citizen protesters sent this shocking eyewitness report to the Internet blog, TheGatewayPundit.com:

    “There were several vehicles following the limo that contained the secret service. The vehicles had all the windows rolled down, and back hatches open on the SUVs with the men holding their, I assume assault rifles, machine guns, drawn on everyone lining the streets. Needless to say, it took my breath away at the sight of them, and made my friends and I dizzy with fear…. I turned on a local talk radio program as we were leaving and all the calls were about witnessing the guns being pointed at them.”

    Of course, we don’t want to jump to any conclusions. There might have been a legitimate reason behind what appears to otherwise be an excessive show of force… we simply don’t know.

    But even if the intent of the Obama Administration was not to oppressively stifle 1st Amendment rights… the message that was left is nonetheless chilling.

    Rosslyn Smith with AmericanThinker.com put the incident in perspective:

    “Whatever it was, the message was poison. Only handpicked supporters were going to get into the carefully orchestrated media event at a Kroger deli that had Obama jetting in and out of the community. That all those who were left to peacefully demonstrate outside had been held at gunpoint is not going to be forgotten anytime soon by those in attendance.”

    Thuggery? … Veiled threat? … Paranoia on the part of Team Obama? … Legitimate and necessary safeguards to protect the life of the President against a real threat?

    We may never know.

    But there is one thing that we do know. Proponents of ObamaCare are showing a detestable contempt for the American people.

    ReplyDelete
  3. NewsGuy did an interview with Hal's lawyer about Hal being a rat. Not to be missed!

    http://www.blogtalkradio.com/TheNewsGuy/2009/08/09/Debeut-Show

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  4. It is not the American people, it is the GOP trying to stir up shit and subvert the democratic process. Conservatives groups across the nation are attending these town hall meetings to cause problems. These people are scum plain and simple.

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  5. A Real White Man said...

    "I worked over in Iraq as a civilian. A lot of times his company was the only protection we could get. It is really fucked up what they are doing to the man."

    No...what would be really f****d up would be if that was truly the "only protection you could get."

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  6. Anonymous #1...

    That IS certainly frightening. But, don't you think it is a sign of the times? Even more frightening to me is that we live in an era where such measures might even considered necessary.

    Given everything that has happened since Obama's election, "peaceful protests" can't be relied upon to remain that way, unfortunately.

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  7. From what I have seen these protests at the town halls have been very tame. Why are people so upset over old people having their voices heard?

    The only time I saw violence is when it was instigated by union thug types.

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  8. Nikki, how come you ain't talking about how this government ISN'T representing the people?

    YOU CALL THIS REPRESENTATION?

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  9. That would be like Nikki actually gettin' involved or something. Or maybe it is because she is a supporter of Obama including this turd of a Bill.

    Nikki knows this thing is unpopular and is remaining on the fence until it is over with.

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  10. It is a false employment. You think the Congress works for you but they work for themselves.

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  11. Aside from the fact that the American people are fed up with being lectured by Congressmen on the "facts," the question is how can these Congressmen know or intelligently discuss the facts when they themselves have not read all of H.R. 3200.

    NOTE THE WORDS OF REPRESENTATIVE CONYERS (D, MI):

    “During his speech at a National Press Club luncheon, House Judiciary Chairman John CONYERS (D-Mich.), questioned the point of lawmakers reading the health care bill.
    “I love these members, they get up and say, ‘Read the bill,’” said Conyers.
    ‘What good is reading the bill if it’s a thousand pages and you don’t have two days and two lawyers to find out what it means after you read the bill?’ ”
    http://www.cnsnews.com/public/content/article.aspx?RsrcID=51610&print=on

    And the only "facts" I'm hearing out of the mouth of Nancy Pelosi are "astroturf" and "swastikas" and "un-American."
    Who can say "un-American" without thinking Nancy Pelosi?

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  12. It appears the internet has been a force for good here of late. Normal everyday people being ignored by their representatives take their case to the WWW:

    here
    and here
    and here
    and here
    and here
    and here
    and here
    and here
    and here
    and here

    God Bless America!

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  13. Oh contrare Oh mighty Democratic leaders. It's un-American not to allow a proper debate. It's also irresponsible and a dereliction of your duties to attempt to ram through (and not read) these bills. You are talking about MAJOR legislation. You two simply want to push it through without proper examination simply because you want a win for Obama. One of the constituents at the Rep. Hoyer attended town hall had it correct. "You want to push through health care reform in 3-4 weeks when it took Obama six months to pick out a dog for his children" (I paraphrase) Your actions to ram this through without a discussion inclusive of all parties is irresponsible. You ask yourself, why all the noise? Obama only won over 54% of the voting population. The simple fact that you ignore the opinions of 46% of the population, plus those in the majority that don't want health insurance change is why you're ignorance is being shouted down.

    Additionally, Ms. Pelosi, please provide evidence of the swatikas you refer to when you insult those of us that disagree with you. Until you can do that (while you're at it, find that evidence that the CIA lied to you), you have no credibility and should vacate the post you hold.

    "I AM THE MOB"

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  14. Bisexual Hal Turner denied bond again, despite the government admitting he was a **PAID** informant. OPP is right not to trust the US Government when they are paying supremacist to run white power rallies.

    CHICAGO — A blogger accused of threatening the lives of three Chicago-based federal judges by saying they "deserve to be killed" has been ordered held without bond.

    U.S. Magistrate Judge Martin Ashman says Hal Turner of North Bergen, N.J., is too great a danger to the community to be released on bail.

    Prosecutors did acknowledge that Turner has been an FBI informant, paid by the government to spy on radical right-wing organizations. They say he told federal marshals about a man's threat to disrupt a Chicago rally following President Barack Obama's election.

    Turner's comments on his blog about the judges came over their ruling on a lawsuit challenging ordinances banning handguns. Turner's attorneys say he merely gave his opinion, which was protected free speech.

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  15. If the actions of Blackwater disturb you Nikki, then you should watch this video.

    Wake the Hell up, People!!!!

    Get your heads out of your asses and click this link

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  16. LOL! Yes...I am sooo...buying into this shit! I'm gonna run right out there and help Restore the Republic along with all the other "patriots."

    ReplyDelete
  17. Anonymous said...

    "Nikki knows this thing is unpopular and is remaining on the fence until it is over with."

    Well, sort of, but not quite. I AM straddling the fence - but not because it's "unpopular." I'm sitting here because, like a lot of others I am looking for answers - not a bunch of misinformation. And that is precisely what is being thrown around out there.

    Health care HAS to be addressed - period. The cost of care is prohibitive - and so is the cost of health insurance and pharmaceuticals. It's absolutely outrageous. Millions are without coverage and that is unconcienable.

    Whether or not this reform package is the right way to go - I honestly don't know. What I do know is that the people in this country deserve to have a simplified explanation of exactly what all of this means.

    People who are screaming about this being a "forced" deal just don't know what the hell they are talking about. As I understand it - you can opt in or out of the government program. You can keep your own insurance should you choose.

    End-of-life counseling does not mean "euthanasia."

    Prescription drugs for senior citizens are almost out of reach for far too many. As I read it, this plan would assist greatly in that area.

    Handicapped people, etc. are not excluded from recieving health benefits as that one father in the video was screeching about at his congressman.

    Those of us who want specific answers and information are finding it very difficult to get what we need because a bunch of insanity is prohibiting town-hall meetings and public discourse from taking place.

    I love protests. I think it is great to see people interested and passionate enough about an issue to take to the streets and wage a protest. But I hate lies, innuendoes, and propaganda.

    This is a very serious issue. Obama, in my opinion screwed up by trying to rush this thing through. We need and deserve to know precisely what it means for us - and I am calling on him and on my congress men to stop the damned generalities and placating bull shit, and to provide us with those specifics as well as the time to process and understand all of this.

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  18. Problem is that when Obama says, "If you like your current plan you can keep it."

    Problem is that is NOT in the House Bill...the exact opposite.

    I get the feeling the plan Obama is talking about isn't the House version.

    If this is the case Obama better say so.


    Nikki, I HAVE read this bill (front to back) and there is NO provision in keeping cost down in it.

    Perhaps we could have a debate here on this site instead of talking about Hal Turner all the damn time...ante up, Nikki, and start being part of the solution.

    ReplyDelete
  19. Fuck her. She probably thinks like Pelosi when she says these oldsters are "un-American".

    ReplyDelete

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