Betsy DeVos faced a hostile hearing from Senate Democrats in her bid to be confirmed as Secretary of Education under Donald Trump. Her devotion to a free market approach to improving K-12 public education and her family ties were the focus for Democrats. Her brother, Erik Prince -- who was once the CEO of the Blackwater security firm -- is also gaining attention, largely because of his ties to the now-defunct company and to the George W. Bush administration.
According to several leftist and progressive website, Prince is now serving as an informal adviser to Donald Trump. In fact, Daily Kos asserted this week that Prince “played a key role in a conspiracy by rogue FBI agents to throw the election to Trump.”
At the liberal website, The Intercept, a recent article about Prince called him “America’s most notorious mercenary. “America’s most notorious mercenary is lurking in the shadows of the incoming Trump administration.” The website cited a former senior U.S. official who has advised the Trump transition, who said that Prince has been advising the transition team on “ intelligence and defense, including weighing in on candidates for the Defense and State departments.”
A former Navy SEAL, Prince is Chairman of Frontier Services Group, but was once CEO of the Blackwater Group, which provided armed security for U.S. diplomats in Afghanistan and Iraq. After considerable attention to the company on the part of Congressional Democrats during the Obama administration, Blackwater folded after weathering accusations of not adhering to the ground rules for protecting U.S. State Department personnel in the two conflictive countries.
In an interview with CNN’s Becky Anderson, Prince described his recommendation for how to solve the still unfolding Libyan migration crisis, which has seen thousands of Libyans and other Africans picked up in the Mediterranean and brought to Europe as refugees. According to a release, his solution focuses on using a partnership private security contractors and government personnel to “train and support the Libyan administration, thereby halting the flow of thousands of migrants travelling by sea to Europe.” This would mean that Libya forces would be trained by private sector security personnel in key areas such as intelligence, leadership, communications, and medicine. The would be to ultimately stop “migrants from ever reaching the dangers of the Mediterranean.”
Prince’s proposal includes providing armed patrol boats, quick reaction forces, and medical evacuations as part of the public/private partnership in the Mediterranean to assist the European navies in the region. During the interview, he said that the numerous dormant air bases in southern Libya could be reopened as “border security bases” where Libyan personnel could be trained to hold back the wave of migrants coming from the rest of Africa. By stemming the flow of migrants along the border region, said Prince, Europe’s navies would be relieved of having to adhere to Law of the Sea requirements to pick up the migrants crossing the sea in frail watercraft and taking them to European ports.
“Libya is the size of Alaska,” said Prince, and added that the distances are so great that migrants must traverse the country by vehicle. By using surveillance from the air, border security personnel could ensure that migrants do not use land routes to head to Libya’s seashore. The easiest and safest part of the trip to Europe, he said, is the sea crossing and would thus be closed off to them through his scheme.
When Anderson asked whether he had regrets as to his tenure at Blackwater, Prince said “Yes, I regret ever working for the State Department. We did exactly what they asked us to do. We did over 100,000 missions. No one under our care was ever killed or injured, and the men used their firearms in less than one half of one percent of those missions while doing the most dangerous security detail mission in the world k. 41 of our men were killed in action. I regret ever working for the state dept because it was not worth it for the men who were killed or injured doing that job. "
Anderson suggested that President Obama wanted to “crush Blackwater.’ She then asked, “Will Trump do the opposite?”
Prince recounted that the U.S. has spent $9 trillion on its wars in Afghanistan and Iraq since 9/11, but “there are now more places on fire around the world.” He said that as a taxpayer, he wants to see some fiduciary responsibility on the part of the next administration and to ask how these missions can be done “better cheaper and faster.” “The Pentagon,” he said, “has proven that it can wage war in the most expensive way possible.” As to prospects for dealing with Libya and the migrant crisis, Prince said, “It should be a quick win for the Trump administration.” However, he added that it does not appear that the current governments in Europe will adopt his plan.