Apparently a kid I grew up with, went to school with from elementary through high school, and who seemed like a good guy at the time (never a friend of mine but never on bad terms with him either), founded and runs Blackwater Security. I find this out from Jim, and the articles about him on the web seem all to be quoting this article by Chris Hedges:
One of the arguments used to assuage our fears that the mass movement being built by the Christian right is fascist at its core is that it has not yet created a Praetorian Guard, referring to the paramilitary force that defied legal constraints, made violence part of the political discourse and eventually plunged ancient Rome into tyranny and despotism. A paramilitary force that operates outside the law, one that sows fear among potential opponents and is capable of physically silencing those branded by their leaders as traitors, is a vital instrument in the hands of despotic movements. Communist and fascist movements during the last century each built paramilitary forces that operated beyond the reach of the law.
And yet we may be further down this road than we care to admit. Erik Prince, the secretive, mega-millionaire, right-wing Christian founder of Blackwater, the private security firm that has built a formidable mercenary force in Iraq, champions his company as a patriotic extension of the U.S. military. His employees, in an act as cynical as it is deceitful, take an oath of loyalty to the Constitution. These mercenary units in Iraq, including Blackwater, contain some 20,000 fighters. They unleash indiscriminate and wanton violence against unarmed Iraqis, have no accountability and are beyond the reach of legitimate authority. The appearance of these paramilitary fighters, heavily armed and wearing their trademark black uniforms, patrolling the streets of New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina, gave us a grim taste of the future. It was a stark reminder that the tyranny we impose on others we will one day impose on ourselves.
If you’d rather listen to Erik’s own description of Blackwater and his history, he’s interviewed here, where he compares Blackwater to eighteenth century privateers.
Robert “Iraq For Sale” Greenwald labels him a war profiteer, which, well, I imagine mercenaries make profits during war, yes. If mercenaries aren’t war profiteers, nobody is. And Greenwald also details his deep involvement with Republican causes, which is absolutely in character, for him or for any other fairly traditional young feller from our school. Although apparently he found the first Bush’s administration, in which he interned, excessively liberal. Cause they let homosexuals into the White House and passed the Clean Air Act. So he went all Pat Buchanan. Being a conservative, religious Republican was de rigeur in our community, but apparently Erik went really, really far down that road. (Of course, Pat Buchanan probably does not approve of Blackwater and America’s use thereof even one tiny little smidgen…)
Like I said, seemed like an OK guy in school. One I had zero in common with but one I had no problem with and who never seemed to have a problem with me. He’s younger than me. And he was a Navy SEAL and founded the most notorious mercenary corporation in the world.