tv Sophie Co RT August 4, 2014 5:29am-6:01am EDT
abandoned by their commanders the biggest incident before today was when four dozen troops did the same in july more on this developing story in the next hour. we'll take on we hear from the founder of the notorious security firm blackwater or if you're watching us from the u.k. undergoing underground with off your returns. a few weeks ago we discussed detroit's plans to shut off water to those who can't pay their bills logically what a basic human assessor he could get taken away some protesters gathered to give their opinion on the issue at our plaza and what is the response from the state maybe some sort of dialogue or explanation as to why they have to turn off the water you know they turned up on the high tech quote non lethal weaponry against the protesters they used an el red system which basically blasted the protesters with sound which sounds unintended you mean until you look into it and read that
the weapon can cause permanent hearing loss the company even admits this is true at less than fifteen meters we see all across the country so-called non-lethal weapons being used to very harmful and even to well we thought ends but why does this happen because they make breaking up protest easy unsafe for the cops remember in the old days when you had to physically break up protests well things like el read allow any coward to just flip a switch to disperse a crowd with not a drop of blood visible and the fact that it seems not harmful allows the police to be justified in using it whenever they want for the sake of the constitution i think no police forces should be able to use this technology but that's just my opinion.
hello welcome to sophie and co i'm sophie shevardnadze an heir to a fortune turned mercenary boss erik prince founded blackwater the world's biggest private military company scoring billions in government contracts in iraq and afghanistan but a public backlash that followed
news of atrocities committed by forcing out of the business are mercenaries bonds to cross lines can they be controlled and suffering inevitable when people are given a license to kill well we'll ask the man himself in our program today. blackwater the world's most powerful drug. the u.s.
government they made a killing plugging holes in america's war on terror as soon as it is until. washington is accused of its paid fighters to draw. really go out of control in the war zone were they just thrown under the bus by the white house or did they get what was coming to. the biggest u.s. private military contractor blackwater welcome to the program it's great to have you with us so i'm going to start from the very
beginning do you create blackwater to train u.s. navy still so how do you become one of the biggest security contractors in the world. well you know i i guess i was an accidental tourist i got out of the navy out of the seal teams because my father died my wife was sick with cancer so i built a facility to stay connected to the seal teams you know the seal team special operations units in america had been using private this elite is really since the one nine hundred seventy s.
and no one had ever done it on an industrial scale and so i did i was you know we had sold my father's business i took some of the money from that and i built to the syllabi and then you know one thing led to another there is a terrible tragic shooting in colorado called the columbine shootings and then the u.s.s. cole was blown up in yemen in two thousand. and then of course after nine eleven. you know we kept we kept saying yes when the u.s. government called the need our help for training or logistics support aviation support security one thing led to another and and we grew very quickly so he obviously got in numerable a number of government contracts how do you explain your success there because the military wasn't able to their job properly. our success was based on you know we had primarily former special operations people in our management team many of whom had gone on to business school and worked in in regular industry and combining the best of industry knowledge with kind of the seal team special operations can do
attitude it worked and you know look the u.s. military is very large very capable very good at conventional operations but when you stop a massive conventional operation and now have to to retasking and become a counterinsurgency force there create some gaps you know you can't take that air defense missile guy and make him into a policeman or do a body guard that quickly so by our skill set was taking existing pools of talent guys it has served before giving them the right training the right equipment the right of. capabilities to go out and do a job on a temporary basis if that's what you are essentially a policeman and private guards bodyguards is your main difference with the military . you know our main are the main missions of a contractor like that is not to do often so combat operations but to do to play defense when necessary whether it's guarding a base guarding people guarding a convoy providing support aviation support so we're not going out there doing
offensive missions but rather. services what they're doing their offensive missions you know and certainly. operating that close or along the edge of battle means that sometimes we get shot at and so whether we were helicopter shot down or aircraft were shot at and certainly our men were shot at on an almost daily basis. but you were operating in a war zone right so the military in iraq and afghanistan for example had very strict rules of engagement did you follow them. sure depending on which customer you're working for whether you're working for the u.s. military or u.s. state department they all have very similar rules of engagement. and ours were defensive you'd have to go through a whole use of force continuum kinds of things you have to do before lethal force would be would be used but i guess what i'm what i'm asking is that if a mercenary commits a crime in combat who holds them responsible because in an army for example there
was a hierarchy always someone above you looking over your shoulder and if you do something that you know. who who was doing that inside blackwater thing the hierarchy think well you know the rules of engagement again come from the government that you're working for technically you know the work we're doing for the state department which we got a lot of unwelcome attention for they were not mercenaries i mean they were american guys. former u.s. servicemen themselves that had served honorably in the u.s. military that went back to work volunteered to go back and serve in a anybody guard or security capacity if there is wrongdoing it can be investigated by the by the military or certainly prosecuted through the u.s. civil justice system. but what am i going to get that is when you say so just what i'm asking is that within the blackwater was there a hierarchy to convict them of crimes was there someone to tell them this is wrong
or iraq's duty or will you just wait for the state department to tell you it's wrong. then and certainly we had internal internal mechanisms for policing our people for. the equipment they're using for equipment countability where they're supposed to be the rules of engagement all the rest but you know as a private company we're not empowered to prosecute a guy i can't incarcerate someone i can't i can't punish them all we could do is fire them or find them but beyond that we don't have the authorities to to do more than that to an individual that is the whole realm of the government all right but you've said that your men wear guards not investigators station to kill and on check the policy and that's from your book that's a direct quote what gave you the right to behave in that way well look they're there they're performing a defensive mission so you know every day between iraq and afghanistan the company did more than one hundred thousand missions protective missions and no one under
our care was ever killed or injured and each time there was a in the event where our men had to use their weapons it was documented in of all those times they do use the weapons it still comes out to less than one half of one percent. of those of those incidents so the idea that they were trigger happy is just it's not accurate. if they are attacked if they are threatened if they are. where there is the threat of a car bomb a small arms ambush sniper fire whatever all the things that can attack you in a war zone they have the equip the tools and equipment that they had do defend themselves or defend their protective. how did you as a had of that organization back in back in those times make sure that someone you were hiring would be a shoot first ask questions later kind of a person. there is actually very detailed hiring requirements for our company and then also to perform on those contracts of course a criminal background check would be performed to check their service records to
make sure they were honorably serve the u.s. military most of them already were decorated for. for merits and for valor in combat they have to go through a psychological evaluation and then they go through hundreds of hours of additional training and qualification under our supervision under this also under the supervision of the of the state department or military customer before they could go out so it's not like we're just hiring someone off the street we're hiring proven professionals that are again tested evaluated stressed to make sure that they're they're competent and able and have good judgment to serve in those kind of situations and what about the use of drugs while so heard in court was that individual a slip ups or and if you just look the other way to let the employees blow off the steam. well that's another one of those nonsense charges and we had routinely drug tested the men they were certainly drug tested as part of the prescreening hiring process but not only were were normal drugs not permitted but steroids as
well any kind of. body altering or mind altering drugs was not permitted and as a former it was a firing offense and and and if someone was found to have been using them they were immediately immediately left the company they were fired but what did you have any instances where he had to fire people for that. sure i mean we fired people for having the wrong site on their weapon we fired people for having bad haircuts we fired people for for minor theft issues we fired a lot of people because we held a very very tight standard and we didn't we didn't permit nonsense but as a former half of the blackwater back then can you say one hundred percent certainty that you knew what went down on the ground that you control the situation completely. well you know anytime you we employ people and you know people make mistakes we as a company did
a very good job i'm confident of screening vetting of training putting people out but if you have you know one bag one bag out of a thousand sure they can make a mistake or do something stupid and you fire them you know even a turban engine which maybe has two or three moving parts breaks once in a while when you have moving parts of thousands of people operating in a warzone under stress and under danger they can make bad mistakes and you have to adjust that's that's the downside of employing people not robots or haven't robots break as well i know but people's lives aren't machines or relevance of course not but the same way you have to maintain an aircraft sometimes that aircraft breaks. accidents can happen in a you know. we're very confident with the with the stress testing with the evaluation and the proven judgment me these are the same people that the u.s. military had serving. as recently as six months before they were deployed for us so
the same kind of competencies the same kind of skill sets the same kind of value system we reemployed to do that job. but we're going to go to a short break right now eric and we'll be back with erik prince founder of the notorious military contractor blackwater right after they so stay with us folks. in justifying their stance than citing all sorts of what they see as international press advance in cost of what they are coming referendum in scotland but the response that they're hearing from the one that is illegitimate but what we've been doing is just a little like
a measure if you break into their story good luck america does is right readers and the other people who for centuries like russia are all countries like this straight. to america does is right because america does. this is the media leave us so we leave that maybe. by the sea who should see to the . quality there's a good. shoes that no one is there with to get they deserve answers from. politic. i. think
it's a. pleasure to have you with us here on t.v. today i wrote a researcher. and we're back with erik prince founder of private military company blackwater so eric obviously there one incident that's received most attention is to shooting in a sewer square and the u.s. military labeled the shooting a criminal event and provoked shooting who should bear the brunt of her
sponsibility. well i don't know the u.s. military labeled that at all that might have been one person's opinion that was given a look at say. any time innocent civilians are injured or killed in battle it's a tragedy. as you're seeing it played out in syria on a daily basis when you have one hundred thirty thousand people killed by the regime bombing civilians bombing schools that's awful what happened in this sort of square just to give you context. there was a very dangerous time in iraq there was thousands of attacks on a daily basis across the country one of our helicopters were shot down a few days before two other small arms ambush but some were men in the hospital big roadside bomb attack that morning started with a suicide car bomb that blew up outside of a venue where a state department person was was at a meeting. we then sent a support team to clear one of the traffic circles making it possible for those.
for the team to get that person back to safety and while they're waiting there some cars didn't stop didn't obey all the rules of engagement you know there was flashing lights sirens. even a laser. a laser beam that you shine even warning shots a car kept coming so shots were fired to stop that car and then other small arms fire started hitting our vehicles and the reason the guys stayed there so long is because one of the incoming rounds actually severed the radiator hose at the bottom of their truck in the radiator fluid drained out. causing them to stay much longer and so there is lots of incoming rounds and certainly the men had to defend themselves any time an innocent civilian is injured or killed it's a tragedy but do you personally feel any remorse for their dad innocent victims i mean i understand it's their war i add i get that but still you are a human being after all do you feel any remorse for that sure i feel i feel great
remorse for the forty one of our men they were killed in action doing the work between iraq and afghanistan i feel bad for the iraqi or the afghan people who are suffering. under way but i mean i know that you know that firing civilians just walking around are passing by you're a man where contracted military workers we're talking about the civilian casualties . correct and unfortunately there was thousands of iraqi civilians killed before that event and then tens of thousands killed after that. trying to work in a country that's a very active war zone where the country is ripping itself apart unfortunately there's a lot of people suffering and going in trying to help that situation sometimes accidents can happen but. you know there's there's been tens of thousands of people killed by suicide car bombs by militias by by them killing each other the same is still happening in syria i mean there's an add on we told human suffering happen on a daily basis here in syria every day but you were like
a serious private military for a mere not suicide car bombs what about the u.s. government do you feel like the u.s. government used you as a scapegoat to avoid responsibility and in terms that yeah these guys went nuts and shop people will prosecute them just because they're perhaps for. you know the vietnam war the anti-war left went after the u.s. troops and this time the enter were left one after any contractors serving in that in that mission and because you know i was the sole owner of the company i was a navy seal mike came from a conservative republican family my father was very wealthy. you know in our men were armed and we had the largest weapons training facility in the country probably own so. we made a perfect target to go after. and we really got caught in the politics of the of the left versus right to the left trying to go after george bush and his policies. unfortunately we were we were a victim of those kind of plate tectonics grind against each other but do you feel
betrayed by your own government that's what i'm asking because you served them after. having you know building your business based on the merits winning competitively bid contracts performing well doing one hundred thousand missions with no one under a care killed or injured and then having it trashed because of politics yeah that's a. you don't want to go through that again but when this source story broke out i remember the government gave you sort of a limited immunity they immunized you and then all of a sudden it all changed what happened there. again either that's the politics of congress and of washington and that's why i've moved on i sold all the blackwater related businesses i'm now the chairman of a company based in hong kong. and we were building out an aviation logistics capability to provide secure logistics for mining or energy companies infrastructure companies doing business in africa or another front to your markets
getting back to diplomatic security of sad that you recall in many many instances you regret working for the state department but you took so much pride in working for them are so government but but you were so proud to work for the government would you do this again no no if i had to do it all over again i would stay in the oil and gas industry or mining and build a business that way again i never never set out to really be a defense contractor i built a training facility that performed really well and we kept answering the phone with the u.s. government call the needed help and in the end we were kind of betrayed politically and i guess in u.s. parlance it's thrown under the bus you know some claim that blackwater was involved with the u.s. special forces in pakistan and in syria those are countries that us isn't officially at war with so it's not like you were doing the dirty work for them. look i sold the business back in two thousand and ten and i've had nothing to do with it since then. so i can't speak to any involved in pakistan and certainly not
in syria yet what about the cia contracts that were out in two thousand and nine well if you read the last chapter of my book there's a reason it's written by a third party. you know certainly the work that i did or the company did is been leaked many times by by politicians that talk too much. you could read through the detail there but you know in tradition with a guy named bill donovan who was the founder of the o.s.'s the predecessor of cia he believed that. there's a lot to be gained from from using the civilian capability from the know how of americans that have capability courage and know how to do things in difficult places and so i tried to continue that tradition. you personally do you believe the wars in iraq and afghanistan where necessary or it's just a business opportunity well look. nine eleven really damaged the american psyche
you know when you have. you know the to tell us buildings in new york and the pentagon and even a fourth aircraft trying to attack simultaneously sure the taliban were hosting al qaeda. and if they would reject him iraq afghanistan war was absolutely necessary hindsight it probably should have been more of a punitive raid and then leave that stay for you know twelve years. iraq again you have a state sponsor who is willing to use chemical weapons on its own people. but there were no chemical weapons that's not going to matter as is of the right but there were no chemical weapons found there. well there were some and i still believe they're out there what about now blackwater as it was formerly called is staying behind in afghanistan after the u.s. troops leave are they just the army's trojan horse i know you know they have anymore but i'm sure you have an answer to that well look any time you know there's
going to be a diplomat be an embassy there will be some kind of training or support function i'm sure left behind for the afghans because the you know they're they need support combat service support aviation support for the afghan army to try to continue from the country so there's certainly be a role for private sector companies to do that i mean private sector companies have played a significant role in the in the american national security really since the founding of this country why do you think that private military contractors are so widely used nowadays to even think of modern war is possible without mercenaries. well when you look back at military history for the last few thousand years contractors mercenaries if you will have been very much interested in those fabrics nowadays when you have big convention militaries built to fight conventional fights you know the u.s. military was built to square off against the soviet union over western europe but when you take that conventional military and now try to retasking it as
a counterinsurgency force it creates a lot of gaps and that's the kind of private sector stuff so i mean you can call you know if you want to say mercenaries would be cooks or cleaners or guys to do laundry or deliver the mail or drive trucks look there's lots of private sector functions and i guess one of the by products of modern capitalism is seeking the most efficient way to deliver a good or a service in that sense the u.s. military figured it's cheaper for us to hire a contractor to do the laundry or to cook the food that it is to have you know a thousand or two thousand extra u.s. soldiers at a much higher cost basis to do that job right but you aren't exactly cooking fit her doing laundry but tell me who else do they share but whether whether it's whether it's a laundry or security or fixing aircraft or or operating a drone whatever those narrow skill sets are they have to be quickly assembled to do the other thing and i've given this example before. i could talk about in my
book as well the you know we took over through a competitive bid the vertical replenishment mission which is when you embark a helicopter on a supply ship our helicopter and it flies from supply ship over to warship wherever those ships are out at sea and we showed up to do that job with two helicopters and eight gaius the navy that we replaced was doing it with two helicopters and thirty five guys same kind of helicopters really and so you know the problem is the navy admiral that said i need thirty five people to do that mission isn't having to pay for those so that's the danger of separating cost from demand and you tend to demand a lot more people so we're going now we're getting back to the beginning of the show where i tell you where you hired because the u.s. military wasn't as efficient as a private military firm turns out yes. well you know because we're not a business i often told our employees we're not a line item in the federal budget if we don't convince our customers to hire us if we don't add the value and save the money then we're done so in the private sector
will always find a more innovative way to do things why not privatized the military altogether well because the realm of offensive combat operation should remain the realm of the state. but the support functions which is really where they spend a lot of their money can be privatized and can be done very efficient effectively in the in a lot of that is done now i don't want to end on a dire note but we you are very proud of what you've achieved do you explain maine times why and you argued very well but for a for people in general black wire thrived on conflict and misery did it ever bother you if you look at it that way. no you know. when i look at used it we used to build the afghan border police we built the bases we ran the base we trained tens of thousands of afghan policemen border police and you know we have to take that we have as you adjust our schedule because these guys couldn't read couldn't write they'd never seen
a flush toilet before many of them and so to take them through that and for eight weeks we had them in those programs and by the end of it they were so proud because it was the first time they've ever been part of something first class in their life that when they woke up in the morning there was hot food waiting and there was fuel for the vehicles in the instructors knew what they were teaching there was ammunition for the guns and a curriculum that they could learn from again these guys had never been to a middle school or high school but they went to our program and they definitely benefited from it and we made them into a competent police officer that could they could operate in survive they were enormously proud of that and i said look at the graduations we're here because thirty years of constant war in afghanistan is enough and we're happy to help make peace and look you have to have a security presence you have to have security before you can have peace and before those people can can go from shifting thinking very very very short term because they're not sure they're going to live for another week or two and to planting a farm growing a flock starting a business living
a normal peaceful life and we're happy to be part of that solution eric thank you very much for that interesting insight into blackwater. that was erik prince founder of the private military company formerly known as blackwater thank you very much for this edition of said think well we'll see you next time. waters' be the bomb to me because. i saw it spread all over. food you have a new. drama zone in the fischel inquiry further more restrictions.
that. really knows what's inside the. clean more zero casualties war this is the great fantasy of warmongering politicians. capturing people is this see what do you do if the innocent killing them easy we were serve the right to kill any person anywhere any time. you don't listen for they come true muslims makes these things are very. politicians. a new kind of power feel. sad is very tempting.
breaking news on our team more than four hundred thirty a grain of salt just cross into russia and asked for shelter this follows caves claims the army was about to win the war against anti-government forces in east ukraine. palestinians have accused israel of violating a partial ceasefire saying a child has been killed and some thirty others wounded in. refugee camp in gaza this amid widespread condemnation of israel's bombing of a u.n. school that killed ten people on sunday. a money making scheme or a bag door immigration policy critics question and u.s. quota system that ensures tens of thousands of people.