Nothing mercenary about Blackwater activities
Grand Rapids Press (2007-05-16) Erik Prince
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The Grand Rapids Press
Wednesday, May 16, 2007
By Erik Prince
Special To The Press
In response to a series of articles about me and my company, Blackwater USA, I am compelled to clarify a few points.
My company is a turnkey solutions provider to a variety of clients and has been responsible for increased operations in increasingly hostile environments. Blackwater's core competency is in training military and law enforcement personnel. We have provided cutting edge training to these communities since long before 9.11 and continue to do so. My plan never was to reap benefits from terrible events, but when there was a compelling need for advanced capabilities, the plan was adapted.
I take issue with the reporter's claim that my company sought to "capitalize" on these attacks. Shortly after the gruesome attacks of 9.11, a security need arose in some of the most dangerous places in the world. Very brave American veterans, many of whom were retired, once again answered the call to duty by working for my company. The individuals who risk their lives each day working for Blackwater have not forgotten and they remain committed. They swear the same oath to defend the United States Constitution that the uniformed military services do.
Your story referred to Blackwater as "arguably the world's most powerful private army." The Constitution does not permit the establishment of a private army, and Blackwater's team of highly motivated and capable security professionals serve at the request of the United States Government.
Furthermore, Blackwater professionals do not engage in offensive missions. You would be correct in calling them a team of bodyguards, but very wrong in using a description of them as a "private army."
Clearly, the mercenary label is intended to polarize the discussion and craft the most negative image possible of Blackwater. The highest authority on rhetoric, the Oxford English Dictionary, however, defines "mercenary" as: "a professional soldier serving a foreign power." Blackwater does not now, nor has it ever, provided security services for, or on behalf of, any country other than the United States of America.
Your reporter accurately reported that my company was awarded a no-bid contract to guard the Iraqi Coalition Provisional Authority. We were also awarded 14 other competitively bid contracts in the same region within months. No-bid contracts are awarded in urgent and compelling situations. For the record, the same contract was later competitively bid and awarded. In fact, over 90 percent of Blackwater's contracts are competitively bid, casting doubt on the reporter's insinuation that the company's success has been due in large part to political connections. All of Blackwater's facilities and development projects are funded with private Blackwater dollars. We have never received any of the "plus ups" or directed appropriations