The founder of one of the most hated companies on Earth believes defense spending should “go on diet,” worries about drone use, and was targeted by the IRS and Democrats for his troubles. He offered to help “save Darfur” and get warlord Joseph Kony yet was vilified by liberals and turned down by both the Bush and Obama State Departments. Meet the Erik Prince you don’t know.
“The greatest threat to liberty in the United States isn’t from any foreign enemy but runaway government spending,” Erik Prince, former CEO and founder of the private military contractor Blackwater, told The Daily Caller in an interview. The bureaucracy in both the intelligence and defense departments has become “bloated, burdensome, and ineffective,” he added.
In what Prince calls a “witch hunt,” left-wing activists and Democrats marked him and his company for destruction. But he has broken his silence about his time as CEO and founder of Blackwater, and he has advice for policymakers and citizens alike in his new book, “Civilian Warriors: The Inside Story of Blackwater and the Unsung Heroes of the War on Terror.”
Perhaps in the rush to build his business Prince should have invested in PR. He describes the speed with which Blackwater conquered the contracting world. His book may too late to combat the negative views that exist about him. But he said it is hard for some to take seriously his commitment to downsize the government when he won so many government contracts.
Prince, who describes himself as a libertarian Ron Paul supporter and a believer in Austrian economics, told TheDC an unnamed IRS agent admitted to being under great pressure to “get him.” Prince said his company became a “lightning rod” for Democrats who wanted to criticize President George W. Bush over the Iraq war but were afraid to seem unsupportive of the troops.
The State Department barred diplomats who had been protected by Blackwater from speaking publicly in the company’s favor. But Prince argues that the company was vital to American security.
Though 41 Blackwater employees died doing their duty, and despite the excruciating detail in the company’s 1,000-plus-page contracts, nobody in Blackwater’s care suffered serious harm or death, Prince told TheDC. When future vice president Joe Biden, future secretary of state John Kerry and future secretary of defense Chuck Hagel were in a helicopter that was forced to land during a snowstorm in Afghanistan, Blackwater employees rescued them. (Kerry later thanked U.S. soldiers.) It was a Blackwater contractor who tackled the Iraqi journalist throwing shoes at President Bush, not the Secret Service. Blackwater employees protected President Obama during his trip to Baghdad.
Prince argues that hired soldiers have been with America ever since the first private military contractor — Christopher Columbus — landed in the New World. Prince imagines a future where private military contractors (PMCs) help America maintain its commitments abroad while not breaking the treasury. In much the same way NASA sets standards for SpaceX, he thinks the federal government can rely on PMCs to get a realistic assessment of how much things ought to cost by turning to the private sector. “You have FedEx and UPS that you can immediately get a price check with,” says Prince.
“The military can do a lot more with its existing structure, but it needs to get rid of a lot of the overhead,” Prince says. “When you have more Navy admirals than you have ships you’ve got a problem. Spend more on teeth and less on tail. The tail has been getting fatter and fatter and fatter and it’s time to put that side of the military on a diet.”