Blackwater USA loses Iraq license

StoryImage( ‘/Images/Story//Auto-img-119022490330404.jpg’, ‘Photo courtesy of‘, ‘A sign is posted at the 7,000 acres of rural land owned by Blackwater USA near the Great Dismal Swamp in Moyock, N.C. The company also operates an 80-acre police training facility—Blackwater North—near Mount Carroll, Ill., about 60 miles west of Rockford.‘);

The Iraqi government revoked Blackwater USA’s license Sept. 17 after members of the American security firm allegedly were involved in a firefight that resulted in the deaths of eight civilians. The firefight followed the explosion of a car bomb near a State Department motorcade.

As the Associated Press reported: “The Interior Ministry said it would prosecute any foreign contractors found to have used excessive force in the Sunday shooting. It was the latest accusation against the U.S.-contracted firms that operate with little or no supervision and are widely disliked by Iraqis who resent their speeding motorcades and forceful behavior. …

“Interior Ministry spokesman Abdul-Karim Khalaf said eight civilians were killed and 13 were wounded when contractors believed to be working for Blackwater USA opened fire in a predominantly Sunni neighborhood of western Baghdad. …

“The spokesman said witness reports pointed to Blackwater involvement but said the shooting was still under investigation. It was not immediately clear if the measure against Blackwater was intended to be temporary or permanent.”

Blackwater USA

Blackwater USA, with headquarters in North Carolina, provides paramilitary personnel for U.S. war efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan. The company operates an 80-acre police training facility—Blackwater North—near Mount Carroll, Ill., about 60 miles west of Rockford.

According to “Blackwater USA is a private military company and security firm. Founded in 1997 by Erik Prince and Al Clark, it is based in North Carolina, where, at what it claims is the world’s largest tactical training facility, the company trains more than 40,000 people a year, from all the military services and a variety of other agencies. The company markets itself as being ‘The most comprehensive professional military, law enforcement, security, peacekeeping and stability operations company in the world.’ At least 90 percent of its revenue comes from government contracts, two-thirds of which are no-bid contracts.”

Blackwater’s Web site boasts: “Over the years, Blackwater’s reputation as the premier weapons and tactics training facility in the United States had spread worldwide. Today, Blackwater has and is currently training select military and other government groups from U.S.-friendly nations at Blackwater and abroad. Our instructors are ranked the best in the world, and our facilities are second to none.”

According to Blackwater’s Web site:

Blackwater North has “seven flat ranges,” “one known distance (KD) range,” “one unknown distance range,” “one combat town range,” “one climbing/repelling/shooting tower,” “one dismounted course” and “one confidence course.”

“Blackwater North Open Enrollment” courses include “one-day basic pistol,” “three-day basic pistol,” “five-day tactical pistol I,” “five-day tactical pistol II,” “three-day shotgun” and “five-day pistol/carbine.”

“Blackwater North Law Enforcement/Military Courses” include “Extreme Officer Survival,” “LE/Military Scout-Sniper Course,” “Advanced LE/Military Scout-Sniper Course” and “five-day HRW/HR [High Risk Warrant].”

“Blackwater North Bushmaster Weapons Courses” include “Bushmaster Carbine Armorer” and “Bushmaster Carbine Operator.”

“Blackwater North Heckler & Koch Weapons Courses” include “Pistol Instructor USP/LEM Armorer,” “Pistol Instructor P2000 Armorer,” “Rifle Operator,” “SMG Operator,” “Tactical SMG MP5 Armorer” and “Tactical SMG UMP Armorer.”

Also, according to The Gulf Coast Reconstruction Portal at, Blackwater USA and local defense contractor SupplyCore Inc. attended the Gulf Coast Reconstruction & Preparedness Summit Aug. 28, 2006, in New Orleans following Hurricane Katrina.

According to, Blackwater’s co-founder Erik Prince is “a millionaire and former U.S. Navy SEAL. After high school he briefly attended the United States Naval Academy before attending and graduating from Hillsdale College. After college, he earned a commission in the United States Navy after joining in 1992, and served as a Navy SEAL officer on deployments to Haiti, the Middle East and the Mediterranean, including Bosnia. When his father, Edgar Prince, unexpectedly died in 1995, he ended his Navy service prematurely. After Erik’s mother, Elsa Prince, sold the family’s automobile parts company, Prince Corporation, for $1.3 billion to Johnson Controls, Inc., Erik moved to Virginia Beach and personally financed the formation of Blackwater USA at the age of 27.

“Prince is the brother of Betsy DeVos. [Betsy DeVos is also] a former chairman of the Republican Party of Michigan and wife of former Alticor (Amway) president and gubernatorial candidate Dick DeVos.

“[Erik Prince] now runs Prince Group, Blackwater’s parent company, from an office in McLean, Va., and also serves as a board member of Christian Freedom International, a nonprofit group with a mission of helping ‘Christians who are persecuted for their faith in Jesus Christ.’”

Clearwater—an ad hoc group of individuals from peace, faith-based and environmental groups—formed in early 2007 in opposition to Blackwater USA’s operations. The group is affiliated with the Illinois Coalition for Peace and Justice. For more information about Clearwater, visit or e-mail or

Investigative reporter Jeremy Scahill’s book, Blackwater: The Rise of the World’s Most Powerful Mercenary Army (Nation Books), also provides more information about Blackwater USA.

from the Sept. 19 – 25, 2007, issue

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