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Erik Prince, value-based lessons and new indictments against Blackwater

April 20, 2010

Last week the Grand Rapids Press announced that the founder of the private mercenary group Blackwater, Erik Prince, would be this year’s Tulip Time Festival keynote speaker (May 5).

The Press Release sent out by the festival planning committee states, “Prince will offer an engaging and motivational presentation sharing insights into his life experiences and how the value-based lessons of his childhood in Holland helped launch his life’s journey. His presentation will also touch on his family’s guiding principles of free enterprise and local philanthropy.”

I think a lot of people would like to know how his “value-based lessons of childhood in Holland” led him to starts one of the world’s largest private mercenary armies that has murdered innocent civilians, stole US weapons, and assisted US imperialism abroad. Maybe the lessons he learned from his father Edgar Prince, a supporter of far-right groups, taught him that the real value of the free enterprise system is to get millions in government contracts, which is just a fancy way of saying that the public has subsidized his wealth.

The Press Release continues by stating, “We are pleased that Erik is willing to join us for the Luncheon and provide us with his personal life stories,” says Tamra Bouman, Executive Director of Tulip Time Festival, Inc. “We sought out a speaker who has strong personal ties to our community. Erik has been on the world’s stage, and we’re very interested to hear how Holland’s educational, cultural and social environment influenced his life.”

Again, wouldn’t we all like to know the answer to these questions. I’m sure the people of Iraq, Afghanistan and New Orleans would like to know as well.

The Tulip Time Festival Press Release goes out of its way to avoid any controversial content, mentioning that Prince is the founder of Blackwater, “a state of the art tactical training facility in North Carolina.” It will be interesting to see if any media covers this event and how they present Prince in light of everything we know about Blackwater.

Just this week, Jeremy Scahill, who has done more investigative work on Blackwater than anyone else, reveals that the Justice Department has brought new charges against Blackwater officials. According to Scahill:

“The Justice Department announced that a federal grand jury had returned a fifteen-count indictment against five current and former Blackwater officials, charging them with conspiracy to violate a series of federal gun laws, obstruction of justice and making false statements to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms. Among those indicted were Blackwater owner Erik Prince’s longtime right-hand man, former company president Gary Jackson, Blackwater’s former legal counsel Andrew Howell and two former company vice presidents. Given Blackwater’s track record and the severity of other allegations against the company–including killing unarmed civilians–if the charges in this case stick, it would be somewhat akin to Al Capone going down for tax evasion. The one major difference being, the number-one man at Blackwater, Erik Prince, is evading prosecution and jail. Prince, who remains the Blackwater empire’s sole owner, was not indicted.”

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