OPINION- CODY LYON
Thanks to well publicized, reportedly reckless and deadly blunders, including the deaths of sixteen of its own staff, coupled with recent questioning on Capital Hill, at least some of the answers may arrive, eventually. But, as that process lumbers along, and as facts begin their slow ascent into the public forum, the people of the
That unfortunate and greater truth appears to indicate that a number of well connected private military contractors have gotten rich from our current national nightmare that is
Not that Blackwater co-founder Erik Prince ever had anything to worry about when it came time to eat at night. The private school educated, Naval Academy graduate, former navy Seal is, after all, the son of the late Edgar Prince, who founded Prince Automotive, a company that was sold in 1995 for $1.4 billion. Erik Prince’s Mother now manages the Edgar and Elsa Prince Foundation which has dolled out tremendous amounts of money to socially conservative causes. In 2004, she was the top individual contributor to the Citizens for the Protection of Marriage, an anti-gay marriage group that campaigned to ban same sex marriage in
Prince’s sister is the former Michigan Republican Party Chairwoman Betsy DeVos. Betsy DeVos is married to Dick DeVos who is the son of the billionaire founder of Amway Corporation Richard DeVos. In 2006, Forbes Magazine estimated Richard DeVos to be the 73rd wealthiest person in the
While there may be a number of soldiers in
More curious is the question of how Erik Prince’s company came upon its latest financial windfalls that saw the company, founded in 1997, go from $1 million before 2001, to over $1 billion in awarded government contracts today, several million dollars of which arrived through what are called, single source or no bid arrangements.
In addition, the company’s vice chairman, Coffer Black was the former director of the CIA’s counterterrorism unit. In fact, Black was in charge back in 2001 when Al Queda struck on 9/11. He later worked at the State Department joining Blackwater in 2005.
Another Blackwater official, Joseph Schmitz joined Blackwater’s parent company, Prince Group, as its Chief Operating Officer and general counsel in 2005. Schmitz is a former inspector general at the Defense Department, who at the time of the “Pilot” report, faced a congressional hearing inquiry into whether or not he had quashed two investigations of senior Bush Administration officials. As a Defense Department inspector, he was in charge of looking at fraud and waste in the Pentagon.
To be sure, individuals, companies and political action groups can raise and give money to whomever they like. And, individuals can, and often do, work in the private sector after leaving government. After all, that’s part of the modern American way. But as it looks with this case, the greater question has become, who benefits, and who loses in the end. With Blackwater, it would appear there are a few losers including the members of our military who aren’t getting $1,222 a day, the taxpayers, who are paying the difference for a private firm to protect state department officials and the people of Iraq who are subject to the whims of an armed security firm that appears to be engaging in questionable, possibly poorly trained and dangerous behaviors.
Not only should congress break out the shovels and start digging for answers, it had better start defining and explaining the rules, better yet, the ethics of how money gets dolled out. Along the way, questions should be raised on who and how anyone does, and if anyone ever should, benefit from a war that is wrecking the lives of our “volunteer” military members. These are the men and women who earn a penance in financial compensation in comparison to the high paid sharpshooters at Blackwater. For America’s military, if this all adds up to the answer it appears to be heading for, is an insult to their service since it has the appearance of labeling the private mercenary services of Blackwater, as an elite alternative to the available skills offered by our nation’s official guardians of security.