WCW Home News Recent News 11-20-13 Erik Prince Ex founder of Blackwater (Academi) forms new Group FRG to Aid China in Africa
11-20-13 Erik Prince Ex founder of Blackwater (Academi) forms new Group FRG to Aid China in Africa PDF Print E-mail

By Jack Blood

From DeadlineLive.com | Original Article

Or at least that is the cover story? CIA loves them some Plausible Deniability!


Addicted to cocaine and crashing Lamborghinis?

Blackwater founder Erik Prince personifies the hidden hand in America’s terror wars.

His company secretly armed and maintained drones in Pakistan, trained CIA hit teams and collected $2 billion as a U.S. government security contractor.

Mr. Prince said he looks back on that adventure as “13 lost years.” The billions of dollars are gone now, and he blames the U.S. government.

After a series of federal investigations, government contract battles and critical congressional hearings, Mr. Prince sold Blackwater in 2010. In the wake of continued controversy over his most recent pursuits while based in Abu Dhabi, Mr. Prince has returned to Virginia to write a new chapter of his life—as an entrepreneur buying oil, land and minerals in Africa.

In interviews, Mr. Prince and former Blackwater officials provided previously unreported details of the company’s dealings with the CIA and its former director, Leon Panetta. Blackwater’s fortunes, which dimmed as the Iraq war dragged on, sank markedly when President Barack Obama took office in 2009 and sought distance from President George W. Bush’s war policies.

A chief target of Mr. Prince’s ire is Mr. Panetta, who in 2009 shut down the covert training operation for CIA “hit teams” that former Blackwater officials said took place on Mr. Prince’s Virginia property.

At the time, former Blackwater officials said, the company also was working on America’s clandestine drone program. Former company officials said that a few dozen Blackwater employees, taking the place of American military forces, maintained drones armed with Hellfire missiles in Pakistan. The company didn’t fly them, but prepared them to launch attacks.

When that information became public in 2009, right after Mr. Panetta canceled the Blackwater hit-team training, the CIA director ended the company’s role in maintaining the drones.

Mr. Prince said he is convinced that Mr. Panetta outed him as a CIA “asset” at a closed congressional hearing that year, adding that it was unthinkable for a CIA director to reveal the real name of a covert operative to lawmakers.

“No one was out to scapegoat anyone in the relationship with Blackwater, but there were some issues that arose that prompted a serious look at contracts with the company,” said one former CIA official involved in the discussions. “There was a perception that they were trying to run some of their own operations untethered from agency oversight.”

Along with its clandestine work, Blackwater had a much more public role providing security for American diplomats and CIA personnel in Iraq and Afghanistan. Blackwater guards were caricatured as war-zone cowboys.

Blackwater convoys were feared in Iraq. The drivers were under State Department orders to do everything necessary to protect the department’s workers—directives that Mr. Prince alleges forced Blackwater to use aggressive tactics.

The State Department didn’t comment on the allegation.

Paul Bremer, the Neo-Con American diplomat who oversaw the U.S. government’s early invasion in Iraq liked them. “Their job was to keep me alive,” said Mr. Bremer. “I can say they never fired a shot in my presence, so they weren’t a bunch of cowboys running around shooting at people.”

Blackwater guards were involved in a series of deadly shooting incidents that alienated Iraqi citizens and the government. In September 2007, they killed 17 Iraqis in Baghdad’s Nisour Square.

Last month, the Justice Department renewed the prosecution of four Blackwater guards involved in the shooting, which still generates anger in Iraq.

“On balance, I think [Blackwater] operated in irresponsible ways which led to a lot of hostility toward our country,” said Rep. Henry Waxman, a California Democrat and former chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, who grilled Mr. Prince during a 2007 hearing. “They were overpaid for their work, and there was little, if any, accountability to the U.S. or the Iraqi governments.”

Following the Nisour Square shooting, the U.S. tightened its oversight and training of contractors to try to prevent another such incident, said Alex Gerlach, a State Department spokesman.

After the Obama administration cut most ties with Blackwater, Mr. Prince sold the company and moved to Abu Dhabi, where he quickly became embroiled in further controversy. Mr. Prince said he served as an adviser in setting up a privately trained antipiracy security force in Somalia that was accused of violating a United Nations arms embargo. And he was a consultant on a failed effort to set up a security force in Abu Dhabi made up largely of former Colombian soldiers.

In August 2012, Blackwater – now called Academi – paid a $7.5 million fine relating to allegations of arms smuggling when Prince was in charge.

Now, Mr. Prince said, he is done working for the U.S. government. He has invested millions in setting up Frontier Resource Group, a private-equity firm that operates in more than a dozen African countries. The company raised $100 million to invest in infrastructure Africa in conjunction with Chinese companies.

The firm is building an oil refinery in South Sudan, owns a cement factory in the Democratic Republic of Congo, conducts aerial gas and oil surveys across the continent, and is looking at taking over idle oil wells damaged by insurgents in Nigeria, he said.

“Africa is so far the most unexplored part of the world, and I think China has seen a lot of promise in Africa,” Prince, who served with SEAL Team 8 in Haiti and the Balkans, said during a visit to Hong Kong, later telling the South China Morning Post: “The problem is if you go alone, you bear the country risk on your own. You have to get support and maintenance there.”

Which means exactly what? Well, no one really seems to know. Prince’s objectives in Africa are obscured, while FRG’s goals are vague and convoluted.

“The view of his new company is very limited, and very opaque. If you look at his website it seems like a front for funding and training local security forces to provide security for resource projects in African nations, particularly for the Chinese,” Geoffrey Ingersoll, a former member of the Marine Corps and a Military and Defense reporter for Business Insider, told Guyism.com.

Will FRG’s new business partners care how the company achieves its goals? Not really, no.

“The Chinese are cut-throat capitalists. They’re much more concerned with their workers not getting kidnapped, and with making money. the over-arching concern is that they want to dominate Africa, geopolitically and economically,” Ingersoll said.

“What I think he wants to do is bring in contractors to employ and train organic security forces. That way, you only need a handful of former SEALs to command 200 men, and those 200 men you can pay small salaries because they’re from sub-Saharan Africa. The tactic is called a ‘force multiplier’ – and comes straight out of the Marine Corps ‘small wars’ manual.”

FRG could face competition from… Blackwater.

“Academi is supposedly moving it’s operation to Africa, because the Americans have grown tired of their uncontrollable, heavily subsidized child acting like a rich kid addicted to cocaine and crashing Lamborghinis,” Ingersoll said.

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