Hampton Roads "Blackwater Top Brass"BLACKWATER a/k/a Christian Freedom InternationalThu Feb 8, 2007 01:42
Blackwater was founded and is owned by Erik Prince.
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Erik Prince, born in 1969 in Holland, Michigan, is the founder and owner of the military support contractor Blackwater USA. A millionaire and former US Navy SEAL, after high school he briefly enrolled in the Naval Academy before attending and graduating from Hillsdale College. After college, he earned a commission in the Navy 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. He sold his family's automobile parts company, Prince Corporation, for $1.4 billion and later moved to Virginia Beach and personally financed the formation of Blackwater USA.
Prince is the brother of Betsy DeVos, a former chairman of the Republican Party of Michigan and wife of former Alticor (Amway) president and Gubernatorial candidate Dick DeVos. Prince's first wife died of cancer in 2003, and he has since remarried and has six children. He now runs Prince Group, Blackwater’s parent company, from an office in McLean, Virginia 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".
Due to its controversial role as an independent, though US-supported, military entity, Erik Prince and Blackwater USA have been the target of several allegations, leading to at least one major court case. Among these allegations are claims of unethical hiring practices and war profiteering. 
* Christian Freedom International website
* Newsobserver article concerning Blackwater plane crash
* Hampton Roads interview of Erik Prince
* Hampton Roads "Blackwater Top Brass"
Blackwater's top brass
© July 24, 2006
ERIK PRINCE, 37, Blackwater’s founder and chairman, has deep roots in conservative Republican politics in Michigan.
His father, Edgar Prince, turned a small die-cast shop in Holland, Mich., into a major auto parts supplier with a specialty product: a windshield visor with a lighted mirror. After his death in 1995, the company was sold for $1.4 billion. Edgar Prince was a confidant and financial backer of Gary Bauer, a conservative activist and onetime presidential candidate.
Erik Prince’s sister Betsy, a former chairwoman of the Michigan Republican Party, is married to Dick DeVos, billionaire son of the founder of marketing giant Amway and this year’s likely Republican candidate for governor of Michigan.
Erik Prince went to private schools in Michigan, earned his pilot’s license at 17 and attended the U.S. Naval Academy. He later joined the Navy and was deployed with a SEAL team.
Prince was living in Virginia Beach when he founded Blackwater in 1996. He now runs the Prince Group, Blackwater’s parent company, from an office in McLean, Va.
His first wife, Joan, died of cancer in 2003. He has since remarried, and has six children.
Prince is a board member of Christian Freedom International, a nonprofit group dedicated to helping persecuted Christians around the world.
Since 1998, he has made nearly $200,000 in contributions to Republican committees and candidates, including President Bush and indicted former House leader Tom DeLay, according to Federal Election Commission records.
GARY JACKSON, 49, Blackwater’s president, has been with the company almost from the beginning. Like Prince, he is a former SEAL, having retired as a warrant officer after 23 years in the Navy.
He is the senior executive at Blackwater’s 7,000-acre headquarters and training compound in Moyock.
Jackson makes no secret of his political leanings. As editor of Blackwater’s weekly electronic newsletter, he posted this headline at the top of the edition after the November 2004 presidential election: BUSH WINS; FOUR MORE YEARS!! HOOYAH!
He has made $9,000 in contributions to President Bush and Republican congressional candidates since 2004, according to Federal Election Commission records. Among the recipients of his donations were DeLay; Rep. Duncan Hunter, chairman of the House Armed Services Committee; and Rep. Jerry Lewis, chairman of the House Appropriations Committee.
COFER BLACK, 56, joined Blackwater in February 2005 as vice chairman after three decades in the Central Intelligence Agency and the State Department.
He was the CIA’s director of counterterrorism when al-Qaida hijackers struck the World Trade Center and the Pentagon on Sept. 11, 2001.
In congressional testimony in 2002, Black said the CIA thwarted plans by Osama bin Laden to kill Black when he was stationed in Khartoum, Sudan, in 1995.
In his book “Bush at War,” Bob Woodward said Black gave these marching orders to an undercover agent he dispatched to Afghanistan after the terrorist attacks: “Get bin Laden, find him. I want his head in a box.”
According to a United Press International report, Black was incensed when U.S. and Afghan forces failed to catch bin Laden at Tora Bora and complained about it anonymously in The Washington Post, prompting Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld to derail his CIA career. Black has denied that he was forced out of the agency.
In 2002 Black moved to the State Department, where one of his duties was managing security for the 2004 Olympic Games in Greece. In 2003, Blackwater won a contract to train security teams for the games.
Company officials say there was no connection.
JOSEPH SCHMITZ, 49, became chief operating officer and general counsel of the Prince Group in September 2005 after a stint as inspector general at the Defense Department.
Schmitz was the senior Pentagon official responsible for investigating waste, fraud and abuse. Now he faces a congressional inquiry into accusations that he quashed two criminal investigations of senior Bush administration officials. The inquiry is continuing, according to a spokeswoman for Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa.
A graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy, Schmitz was a special assistant to Attorney General Edwin Meese III in the Reagan administration. He was awarded the Defense Department Medal for Distinguished Public Service on his retirement from the Pentagon.
Schmitz’s father, John G. Schmitz, was a two-term Republican congressman from California and a prominent member of the John Birch Society, an ultra-conservative group that flowered during the Cold War. He ran for president in 1972 as the candidate of the American Independent Party after its founder, George Wallace, was paralyzed by a would-be assassin.
John Schmitz’s political career ended with the revelation that he had a mistress who bore two of his children. He then moved to Washington, where he bought a house once owned by Sen. Joseph McCarthy.
Joseph Schmitz’s sister, Mary Kay LeTourneau, also became embroiled in a scandal. As a married teacher in Washington state, she went to prison after being convicted of having a sexual relationship with a 13-year-old student with whom she ultimately had two children. The two have since married.
THE BLACKWATER EMPIRE
Prince Group (Parent company)
Blackwater Training Center -- Firearms and tactical training
Blackwater Target Systems -- Manufacturing and sales
Blackwater Security Consulting -- Security services
Blackwater Canine -- Explosives-detecting dogs
Raven Development Group -- Construction
Blackwater Armor -- Armored personnel carriers
Blackwater Airships -- Blimps
Presidential Airways -- Aviation
Greystone -- International security services
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