Erik Prince is the just-resigned
CEO of Blackwater, a private military firm with $1
billion in contracts--from guarding Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in Afghanistan to running drone strike programs--and an infamous reputation for the controversial killings of
Iraqi civilians. How did it get so powerful? The answer may lie in Prince's other
job, reported this week by Vanity Fair: CIA asset. From Adam Ciralsky's blockbuster story
in Vanity Fair:
But the truth about Prince may be orders of magnitude stranger than
fiction. For the past six years, he appears to have led an astonishing
double life. Publicly, he has served as Blackwater's C.E.O. and
chairman. Privately, and secretly, he has been doing the C.I.A.'s
bidding, helping to craft, fund, and execute operations ranging from
inserting personnel into "denied areas"--places U.S. intelligence has
trouble penetrating--to assembling hit teams targeting al-Qaeda members
and their allies. Prince, according to sources with knowledge of his
activities, has been working as a C.I.A. asset: in a word, as a spy.
While his company was busy gleaning more than $1.5 billion in
government contracts between 2001 and 2009--by acting, among other
things, as an overseas Praetorian guard for C.I.A. and State Department
officials--Prince became a Mr. Fix-It in the war on terror. His access
to paramilitary forces, weapons, and aircraft, and his indefatigable
ambition--the very attributes that have galvanized his critics--also made
him extremely valuable, some say, to U.S. intelligence.
This revelation could explain several long-unanswered questions about Blackwater and Prince, as well as raise new questions.
- Blackwater Explained Spencer Ackerman marvels. "[H]ow does a
law-enforcement services company go from zero to a billion-dollar
government contractor inside barely a decade; how does it keep its
contracts with the diplomatic entity of the United States government
after its operatives kill 17 unarmed foreign civilians; how does it
perform counterterrorism-support operations of the highest sensitivity;
how does it hire and affiliate with top-flight CIA talent like Cofer
Black, Buzzy Krongard, Rob Richer-Oh. Erik Prince is a CIA asset."
- Who Set Up CIA With Prince? Politico's Laura Rozen wonders. "And who sanctified the alleged relationship? Worth considering that the
CIA executive director appointed by Porter Goss in 2004, Kyle Dusty
Foggo, is now serving a prison term for throwing CIA contracts to his friend contractor Brent Wilkes. Among the
contracts he tried to throw Wilkes? One for covert air operations."
'Ultimate Deniability' For CIA Preeminent Blackwater expert Jeremy Scahill of the Nation tweets, "Prince
confirms what I have long said: He did a bunch of CIA work free on
spec--ultimate deniability: rich fundamentalist w private army.
Prince confirms what my military intel source says: Blackwater works w Special Forces to locate 'targets.'
Harrison Ford should publicly reject Erik Prince attempt to compare self to Indiana Jones. Sir, you are no Indy."
- Why's Prince Burning CIA? Marcy Wheeler writes, "It's either an attempt to fully burn one cover, in an attempt to
sustain another cover. It's an attempt to strike back in a game of
leaking turf battle. Or it's an attempt to distract away from the
really sensitive parts of his business." She adds, "he's revealing only those details purportedly contracted via CIA
(though, again, the Ghadiyah operation involved Special Forces). He's
not revealing what he's been doing with JSOC. And he's sure as hell not
describing what he's been doing for the Pakistani government."
- CIA/Blackwater in Germany and Iran? The Atlantic's Marc Ambinder muses. "According to Prince, the Blackwater team traveled to Germany,
surveilled Al Qaeda financier Mamoun Darkazanli, and prepared to
assassinate him. The CIA did not inform its own station chief that the
team was in the country, and they did not inform the host country. What
Prince describes is a serious violation of NATO intelligence sharing
arrangements," he writes. "As
recently as two months ago, Prince and a team were overseeing
intelligence missions in one of the Axis of Evil countries -- Iran,
probably -- from a location inside the United States."
- CIA Assassination Program Mother Jones's Daniel Schulman reminds us
that the program Prince says he helped the CIA with was, according to
the CIA itself, never operational. "If this account is correct, it
raises a host of questions. Among them
is whether CIA director Leon Panetta, who reportedly shut down the
program immediately after learning of it and promplty briefed Congress,
misinformed lawmkers about the nature of this effort, its targets, and
just how operational it actually was. If, as Prince claims, he helped
tee up a target for special forces to take out, then the agency's
assertions that the assassination program never got off the ground are
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