Today, the New York Times published an op-ed from notorious war profiteer Erik Prince. Prince is the founder of the mercenary firm Blackwater, which he has since rebranded as Xe and now Academi.—he’s also the brother of current education secretary Betsy Devos, the heir to a billion+ dollar fortune, and a combat-crazed, Christian fundamentalist.
This man should never have been given a platform like the New York Times to advertise his killing enterprise.
After receiving contracts from the pentagon worth billions, Blackwater mercenaries conducted training sessions and raids in Iraq and Afghanistan for nearly a decade. In 2007, four Blackwater mercenaries walked into Nisour Square in Baghdad and opened fire killing 17 unarmed civilians and wounding 24 others. The men haphazardly sprayed bullets and launched grenades at cars stopped in traffic in the middle of the afternoon. The event is now known as the Nisour Square Massacre. The Blackwater guards were initially found guilty of murder and manslaughter and received lengthy sentences. But earlier this month, a federal appeals court overturned the convictions and ordered new sentences for the three men charged with manslaughter, and a new trial for Nicolas Slatten, the guard previously found guilty of murder and sentenced to life. It’s worth mentioning, as Blackwater expert Jeremy Scahill noted, that the man behind Blackwater, Erik Prince, was able to skate away with millions without ever being charged with a crime.
Prior to the Nisour Square Massacre, the State Department began an investigation into Blackwater’s practices in Iraq, but a death threat from a high-ranking Blackwater operative stalled the probe. However, as the New York Times reported, state investigators were concerned by Blackwater’s actions; they found the group to be negligent and unorganized. Investigator Jean C. Richter wrote that “Blackwater contractors saw themselves as above the law.”
Using private mercenaries in military combat was a disaster, yet, somehow, Prince remains a public figure. Apparently being the wizard behind a horrific massacre doesn’t prohibit one from being given the spotlight. The Trump administration via Steve Bannon and Jared Kushner, embraced Prince, and now he’s making a play for a new contract in Afghanistan.
It is absolutely shameful for the New York Times to give this man a platform; it only serves to further legitimize a criminal who expanded his fortune by fostering the murder of innocent people. I understand wanting to keep the op-ed page diverse; gathering a wide swath of opinions is important. That’s not what this is. This is inexcusable. It’s one thing for right-wing, cable news shows to interview Prince, it’s quite another for an esteemed newspaper to give valuable real estate to him to promote his business and propagate his dreams of perpetual war.
By publishing this article, the Times are stating that they believe his opinion is worth reading.
Written by Jesse Mechanic
Jesse Mechanic is the editor in chief of The Overgrown.