Erik Prince, the owner and former CEO of private security giant
Blackwater, is putting his company up for sale. Prince, who was previously a CIA asset
recently suggested Blackwater run global military operations on behalf of big oil
he can no longer endure the political attacks on the company he founded
in 1997. Prince may have timed the decision well, as Blackwater has just
from its profitable but
controversial core business of killing people into the slightly less
contested retail market. Here's what the sale means and what's next for
- Comes After Recent Company Changes The Associated Press explains,
"The announcement comes less than
three months after Xe sold its aviation division for $200 million to
Wood Dale, Ill.-based AAR Corp in a bid to strengthen Xe's balance
sheet. More recently, five former executives, including Gary
Jackson, the company's ex-president, were indicted on charges of
conspiring to violate federal firearms laws. Jackson was among the top
officials who left the company last year in a management shakeup."
Blackwater's public statement reads, "Xe's new management team has made
significant changes and improvements to the company over the last 15
months, which have enabled the company to better serve the U.S.
government and other customers, and will deliver additional value to a
Raises Serious Dilemma for CIA, Special Forces The Nation's Jeremy Scahill writes, "The most interesting aspect of
this story is what will happen to Blackwater's clandestine/covert work
for the CIA and the Joint Special Operations Command."
Blackwater did not rise to prominence in a vacuum and it did not create
the demand for the kinds of forces and services it offers. Even if Erik
Prince leaves the mercenary game, Blackwater will continue on--almost
certainly under a different name and, it seems, new ownership. The type
of clandestine operations and top tier special forces operators
Blackwater has provided to the US government and military will be in
increasing demand in the years ahead, particularly as the Obama
administration expands the operations of US special forces globally. The bottom line is that
there are a finite number of top level operators and Blackwater employed
a lot of them.
- Who Should Buy It? Wired's Noah Shachtman runs a poll.
Top contenders so far include British Petroleum ("Somebody is
gonna have to keep all those sunbathers away from the beach"), Steve
Jobs ("Because Blackwater isn't secretive and vindictive enough") and
reporter Jeremy Scahill, who literally wrote the book on Blackwater and
whose scathing investigations of the company have, as Chris Hayes put it, probably single-handedly dropped the
company's resale value.
- ...Let's Hope No One Does Jeremy Scahill sighs, "If there was ever a
company that should have no buyer and no customers, it's Blackwater."
Points Memo: We're Making a Bid TPM chief Josh Marshall quips, "I've noticed with some
interest that none other than Newsmax has garnered a lot of free
publicity by saying it's interested in buying Newsweek, the Washington
Post's soon-to-be-abandoned weekly news magazine. So I'm now
considering having TPM officially become a bidder on Blackwater which
has just now gone on sale."
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