Jeremy Scahill and Democracy Now! expose Erik Prince’s malicious political myth-making
Jeremy Scahill and Democracy Now!, in today’s exclusive broadcast of secretly recorded audio, expose the malicious political myth-making of Erik Prince.
Myth-making: it’s the state of the art in the manufacture of consent.
SHARIF ABDEL KOUDDOUS: Well, Jeremy we want to go to one of those clips. This has never before been broadcast. It’s difficult to hear. We have the transcript up for our television viewers. But for our radio audience, why don’t you set up this clip. This is about the Geneva Conventions.
JEREMY SCHAHILL: Right, this was recorded by someone who had to do it secretly, so it was recorded from a seat in the audience with the room ambiance, so it’s a bit hard to make out. But what Erik Prince, he says that people have come up to him and said, aren’t you concerned when you operate in the likes of Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan–interesting because Blackwater has denied it works in Pakistan, but here’s Erik Prince mentioning his work in Pakistan–aren’t you concerned when you work in these places you don’t have protection under the Geneva Convention? You know, there’s a debate about this, that they could be classified as ‘unlawful combatants’ because they’re essentially mercenaries, it’s arguable under international law definitions. And Prince said, ‘absolutely not,’ because the people that we’re fighting in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan are ‘barbarians who crawled out of the sewer.’ He said that they have a 1200 AD mentality. And that they don’t know where Geneva is, let alone there was a convention there. It’s interesting that he misuses the term convention there because it wasn’t a convention in the sense of a meeting, but a convention in the sense of an international agreement that was brokered that governs now, international affairs. So here’s Erik Prince expressing disdain over the debate about the status of his forces in the Geneva Conventions.
SHARIF ABDEL KOUDDOUS: So let’s go to that clip. Listen carefully. This is Eric Prince speaking in January. Never before been broadcast.
ERIK PRINCE: They are there to kill us. They don’t understand- you know, people ask me that all the time, ’Aren’t you concerned that you folks aren’t covered under the Geneva Convention in dealing in the likes of Iraq or Afghanistan or Pakistan?’ And I say, ‘Absolutely not,’ because these people, they crawled out of the sewer and they have a 1200 AD mentality. They’re barbarians. They don’t even know where Geneva is, let alone that there was a convention there. [LAUGHTER]
SHARIF ABDEL KOUDDOUS: That was Erik Prince. Again, it was difficult to understand, you can go to our website at democracynow.org for a transcript, it’s up on the screen, of what he’s saying. We’re going to another clip right now, Jeremy. This is him talking about Yemen, about Saudi Arabia, about the Middle East, and specifically about the influence he thinks of Iran.
JEREMY SCHAHILL: Yeah, as he put it, as Erik Prince put it, as I said, you know Iran is of the dead center of badness in the world. And he painted this picture where Iran is fomenting a Shi’ite revolt in the region and he talked about how they’re stirring-up this revolt in Yemen and doing cross-border raids into Saudi Arabia. He talked about the Iranian influence in Somalia and other countries and talked about the Iranians providing support for improvised explosive devices in Iraq and he said, that in the case of Yemen and Saudi Arabia an Somalia, that the Iranians have had a very sinister hand in these places. So, Erik Prince proposed that the U.S. send in forces, small forces of U.S. mercenaries because he said that you’re not going to solve the problem by putting a lot of uniformed soldiers in these countries. It’s way too politically sensitive, he said. The private sector can operate there with a very, very, very small, very light footprint.
SHARIF ABDEL KOUDDOUS: Again, let’s go to that tape. This is Erik Prince.
ERIK PRINCE: So, the Iranians are stirring it up in Yemen first, they’re trying to stir it up in the oil fields of Saudi Arabia. The Iranians have had a very, very big hand in Iraq certainly and there’s a lot of evidence that they’re supporting the Taliban in Afghanistan as well. We’ve seen more and more sophisticated IEDs, the Improvised Explosive Devices, that are blowing up our troops on the road, even some evidence of surface-to-air missiles being moved in. So the Iranians have a very sinister hand in these places. You’re not going to solve it by putting a lot of uniformed soldiers in all these countries. It’s way too politically sensitive. The private sector can operate there with a very, very, very small, very light footprint.
SHARIF ABDEL KOUDDOUS: Again, that was Erik Prince speaking in January. Difficult to hear. Jeremy, your article really goes through all of what he says throughout this speech. Talk about- well, go ahead.
AMY GOODMAN: And interestingly, he’s speaking at the University of Michigan where President Obama just gave the commencement address yesterday.
JEREMY SCHAHILL: Right, exactly and where he will be speaking on Wednesday is Holland, Michigan is at the DeVos Fieldhouse which is owned by the DeVos family, the owners of the Orlando Magic basketball team. The biggest bank rollers of the rise of the radical religious right. His sister, Betsy, is married to Dick DeVos, the heir to that fortune. And it’s interesting because he almost always speaks of some kind of a venue there that is controlled by either his family or his extended family. The last part of what Prince said in that clip, though, is very significant. He talked about the issue of the very small footprint. That is in his line for a long time. That the U.S. government has very expensive military operations and that if you take a high-end team of special forces operators like those that work for Blackwater, former SEALS, Delta Force, JSOC guys, joint special operations command guys, that you can send in less of them and that they can inflict much more damage. So he’s suggesting this will be something that can be done right now, send them into these countries to take out ‘the bad guys,’ as he called it, he constantly uses that term, ‘the bad guys.’