Erik Prince is the Comte de Rochefort of Trumplandia, one of the secretive evil geniuses behind the gilded throne of Donald the First. Like the ignoble character in French author Alexandre Dumas’ brilliant “The Three Musketeers,” Prince reappears in Trumplandia from time to time, committing acts of skullduggery that benefit his unbalanced benefactor.
Of late, Prince has reportedly been manipulating truth for Project Veritas, a right of right-wing “news” organization that creates its own questions and answers for the dimwits who drink its swill. The close ally of Trump is also under investigation by the Justice Department for potentially lying to congressional investigators who interviewed him as part of the House of Representatives’ Russia probe. That investigation is reportedly in its “late stages,” according to The Wall Street Journal.
In addition to investigating potential lies to Congress, the Justice Department is also probing whether Prince violated U.S. export laws. The billionaire heir allegedly modified two American-made crop-dusting planes into attack aircraft, a violation of arms trafficking regulations. The planes were incorporated into the private military services Prince proposed for mercenary operations in Africa and Azerbaijan. Can’t make this stuff up, folks.
Prince declined comment.
Meanwhile, The New York Times is reporting that Prince helped recruit former British and American spies for Project Veritas. The disreputable smear group is reportedly spying on so-called left-wing organizations like unions, community action groups and other quasi-political organizations that are trying to rid the country of Trump’s dysfunctional regime.
According to the Times, one of the spies he recruited is a former British MI6 agent who copied files and recorded conversations in a Michigan office of the American Federation of Teachers. The same spy infiltrated the campaign of Rep. Abigail Spanberger (D-Ca.) before being caught and fired.
Prince, a former U.S. Navy SEAL officer and brother of controversial Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos, is the founder of the infamous Blackwater USA, a bodyguard company that provided highly trained mercenaries to protect high-profile American diplomats serving in Iraq during the endless Global War On Terror. Prince sold the company in 2009. The endless war continued.
The use and recruitment of mercenaries is forbidden internationally by the 1989 International Convention against the Recruitment, Use, Financing and Training of Mercenaries. A mercenary is defined as any person who is specially recruited locally or abroad in order to fight in an armed conflict. In most societies, captured mercenaries do not receive prisoner-of-war status and are often liable for a summary firing squad.
The George W. Bush Administration simply ignored the international agreement when it became apparent there weren’t enough skilled security people willing to work in Iraq for pathetic military pay when Blackwater would paid six-figure salaries and bonuses. The Blackwater stereotype was a rough, tough, former special operator seeing everything from behind mirrored aviator glasses and a black shooter vest. In the Global War on Terror, there was big money waiting for gunmen prepared to stake their lives on Blackwater pay.
Money has never been a problem for the family of a self-made Michigan machinery company magnate. Prince’s clueless sister, Betsy, contributed millions to Republican candidates and interests in return for being named Secretary of Education by Trump, despite having no experience in education. She was confirmed in a 51-50 vote with the tie-breaker offered by vacuous Vice President Mike Pence.
Prince’s life is filled with world-class intrigues that attract power and money like moths to flames. Blackwater’s early luster faded in 2007 after a group of trigger-happy ex-operators killed 17 Iraqi civilians and injured 20 in Nisour Square, Baghdad, while guarding a diplomatic convoy. Prince managed to avoid any criminal responsibility.
In 2010, less than a year after he sold the company, Blackwater reached an agreement with the State Department to pay $42 million in fines for hundreds of violations of United States export control regulations for shipping weapons and dangerous people where they weren’t supposed to be.
In 2014, four Blackwater employees charged in the Nisour Square slaughter were convicted in U.S. federal court, one for murder and the other three on manslaughter and firearms charges resulting from the pointless deaths. FBI investigators testified that 14 of the 17 Iraqis killed by the guards were shot without cause.
The three “justifiable killings” included two passengers in a suspicious white sedan and an unidentified Iraqi, all suspected of being possible suicide bombers.
Last January, it was widely reported that Trump explored pardoning Blackwater shooter Nicholas Slatten, the former Army sniper sentenced to life in prison in August 2019 at his third trial in the case. Slatten fired the first shots that kicked off the deadly melee. On January 10, The Daily Beast reported Trump was considering pardoning Slatten.
Prince and Trump share a strange and sinister synergy that feeds on power, money and failure. In Texas, folks might say they can turn shit into shinola and stand up smelling like flowers. No doubt Trump will forever be remembered as the American president who always lied because he could never rule, and Prince will be remembered as the Teflon-coated American warrior and billionaire who saw death and destruction as a lucrative business opportunity. Their only real difference is the way they cut their hair.
As improbable as their symbiotic relationship appears, it seems to work admirably for them. The dark prince has donated hundreds of thousands of dollars toward the election efforts of his benefactor, apparently so Trump will turn a blind eye when his mercenary chief earns princely sums preying on private persons who suddenly find themselves enemies of the Trumplandian state.
At the same time, Trump has deemed that the FBI’s efforts to spy on his campaign (ruled necessary and legitimate by the nation’s highest court) are inappropriate and unlawful. The irony is nauseating.
If the implications of private, for-profit spying on behalf of our elected government weren’t such a monstrous threat to personal freedoms, the continued story of the gang that can’t shoot straight could be Alexandre Dumas’ dark comedy of today that becomes a sardonic tome for tomorrow.