Erik Prince, brother of Betsy DeVos, is one of the largest donors to Donald Trump and the Republican party as a whole. He’s also the founder of Blackwater, the private “security” company that was one of several private companies the George W. Bush administration used in Iraq. It was an extremely lucrative time for Blackwater. In 2001, Blackwater had contracts with the U.S. government valued at $736,906. By 2006, those contracts skyrocketed to $593 million, with a combined total of more than $1 billion in those five years.
Erik Prince was also a “shadow” adviser for the Trump campaign. He even worked to create a secret backchannel between the Trump campaign and Vladimir Putin.
The United Arab Emirates arranged a secret meeting in January between Blackwater founder Erik Prince and a Russian close to President Vladimir Putin as part of an apparent effort to establish a back-channel line of communication between Moscow and President-elect Donald Trump, according to U.S., European and Arab officials.
The meeting took place around Jan. 11 — nine days before Trump’s inauguration — in the Seychelles islands in the Indian Ocean, officials said. Though the full agenda remains unclear, the UAE agreed to broker the meeting in part to explore whether Russia could be persuaded to curtail its relationship with Iran, including in Syria, a Trump administration objective that would be likely to require major concessions to Moscow on U.S. sanctions.
We know Trump values loyalty above all else (even though he shows no loyalty to anyone who does not have the last name Trump) and Erik Prince is about to be rewarded with more massive government contracts, this time in Afghanistan. In an interview with USA Today, Prince revealed the new plan to privatize military operations in Afghanistan:
The White House is actively considering a bold plan to turn over a big chunk of the U.S. war in Afghanistan to private contractors in an effort to turn the tide in a stalemated war, according to the former head of a security firm pushing the project.
Under the proposal, 5,500 private contractors, primarily former Special Operations troops, would advise Afghan combat forces. The plan also includes a 90-plane private air force that would provide air support in the nearly 16-year-old war against Taliban insurgents, Erik Prince, founder of the Blackwater security firm, told USA TODAY.
The unprecedented proposal comes as the U.S.-backed Afghan military faces a stalemate in the war and growing frustration by President Trump about the lack of progress in the war.
Private companies operating in Iraq were responsible for human rights abuses and massive, on-going fraud to the tune of $12 per day. From the Financial Times:
A 2011 report from the commission on Wartime Contracting in Iraq and Afghanistan estimated that defense contractors had wasted or lost to fraud as much as $60bn – or $12m a day – since 2001.
Private contractors have been involved in some of the most shocking events of the Iraq conflict – from the Nisour Square shootings in 2007 in which Blackwater security guards killed 17 Iraqis, to the Abu Ghraib prison scandal.
Emphasis added on the last part. Blackwater employees shot and killed 17 Iraqis in the Nisour Square Massacre. Four Blackwater employees were convicted of murder, manslaughter and weapons charges:
Four former Blackwater Worldwide security guards were convicted and immediately jailed Wednesday for their roles in a deadly 2007 shooting in Baghdad’s Nisour Square that marked a bloody nadir in America’s war in Iraq.
A jury in Federal District Court found that the deaths of 17 Iraqis in the shooting, which began when a convoy of the guards suddenly began firing in a crowded intersection, was not a battlefield tragedy, but the result of a criminal act.
The convictions on murder, manslaughter and weapons charges represented a legal and diplomatic victory for the United States government, which had urged Iraqis to put their faith in the American court system. That faith was tested repeatedly over seven years as the investigation had repeated setbacks, leaving Iraqis deeply suspicious that anyone would be held responsible for the deaths.
And this is the company Donald Trump is leaning toward rewarding with massive new billion dollar contracts? According to USA Today, Trump’s own military advisers are against the effort to privatize Afghanistan operations:
The plan remains under serious consideration within the White House despite misgivings by Trump’s national security adviser, H.R. McMaster, an Army three-star general, and Defense Secretary Jim Mattis. Other White House officials, such as chief strategist Stephen Bannon, appear open to using private contractors.
Donald Trump rewarded the loyalty and cash money donations from Prince’s sister, Betsy DeVos, with a cabinet position. Will he reward top swamp donor and shady adviser Erik Prince with a $10 billion per year contract? Stay tuned.