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Friday, May 7, 2010

Secret Tape Of Blackwater Founder Exposed

Erik Prince, the founder of Blackwater, the American private security organisation, has claimed that his employees have called in airstrikes in Afghanistan.

He also mocked Afghan military recruits for needing lessons in how to use a toilet, and questioned the value and quality of other countries’ troops in the country.

In a speech in January at the University of Michigan which was secretly recorded, he questioned the will to fight of many Nato troops in Afghanistan, saying that “a lot of them should just pack it in and go home”.

Blackwater, now renamed Xe Services, has been a lightning rod for controversy surrounding America’s use of private contractors in war zones since its personnel killed 17 unarmed Iraqi civilians in a Baghdad square in 2007.

Mr Prince rarely makes public appearances but in an recording of a recent, private address to a “friendly audience” obtained by The Nation magazine, he can be heard criticising the quality of the Afghan army’s raw recruits but claims his company’s instructors have turned them into “the most effective fighting force in Afghanistan.”

He also singles out the Canadians for their sacrifices and military prowess, but offers no praise for Britain’s troops.

The Nation said that he described a operation in July last year in South East Afghanistan, when Blackwater employees discovered an a huge cache of drugs. He said they had called in Nato airstrikes to destroy it.

“When the guys found it, they didn’t have enough ammo, enough explosives, to blow it, they couldn’t burn it all, so they had to call in multiple air strikes. Of course, you know, each of the Nato countries that came and did the air strikes took credit for finding and destroying the cache.”

The issue of airstrikes has been particularly contentious in Afghanistan where mistakes have inflamed local sentiment against Nato forces.

Mr Prince went onto to urge the US Government to send private contractors fight “terrorists” in Yemen, Somalia and Saudi Arabia, where he claims a “sinister” Iranian influence is growing. He also suggests that Blackwater contractors could be used in Nigeria to protect America’s oil interests from what he describes as “organised crime.” He called Iran “the absolute dead centre of badness”.

In response to questions of Blackwater contractors being potentially classified as “unlawful combatants” under the rules of the Geneva Convention, Mr Prince dismisses the idea, saying that Iraqi, Afghan, and Pakistani “barbarians” fighting against the United States “crawled out of the sewer.”

“They don’t know where Geneva is, let alone that there was a convention there,” he says.

Mr Prince went on to speak glowingly about the Blackwater’s achievements in Iraq and Afghanistan.

He claimed it was a Blackwater guard who takled an Iraqi journalist who assaulted President George W Bush with his shoes in December of 2008. Mr Prince called him a “shoe-bomber” and described the US Secret Service response as “flat-footed”.

Addressing the failure of Blackwater security detail to prevent the December 2009 bombing of a CIA office that killed 8 in Khost, in Afghanistan, Mr Prince said the loss of life was “the cost of doing that work.”

Times Online


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