Erik Dean Prince
June 6, 1969
Holland, Michigan, U.S.
|Education|| United States Naval Academy |
Hillsdale College (BA)
|Known for||Founder of Blackwater|
(m. 1991;died 2003)
(m. 2004;div. 2012)
Stacy DeLuke (m. date unknown)
|Relatives|| Edgar Prince (father)|
Betsy DeVos (sister)
|Unit||United States Navy SEALs|
Erik Dean Prince (born June 6, 1969) is an American businessman and former U.S. Navy SEAL officer best known for founding the government services and security company Blackwater USA, now known as Academi. He served as its CEO until 2009 and later as chairman, until Blackwater Worldwide was sold in 2010 to a group of investors. Prince currently heads the private equity firm Frontier Resource Group and is chairman of Hong Kong-listed Frontier Services Group Ltd. He is the brother of U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos.
The United States Navy Sea, Air, and Land Teams, commonly abbreviated as Navy SEALs, are the U.S. Navy's primary special operations force and a component of the Naval Special Warfare Command. Among the SEALs' main functions are conducting small-unit maritime military operations that originate from, and return to, a river, ocean, swamp, delta, or coastline. The SEALs are trained to operate in all environments for which they are named.
An officer is a member of an armed forces or uniformed service who holds a position of authority.
A private equity firm is an investment management company that provides financial backing and makes investments in the private equity of startup or operating companies through a variety of loosely affiliated investment strategies including leveraged buyout, venture capital, and growth capital. Often described as a financial sponsor, each firm will raise funds that will be invested in accordance with one or more specific investment strategies.
Prince was born on June 6, 1969, in Holland, Michigan, the son of Edgar D. Prince and his wife, Elsa (Zwiep),and the youngest of four children. He graduated from Holland Christian High School.
Holland is a city in the western region of the Lower Peninsula of the U.S. state of Michigan. It is situated near the eastern shore of Lake Michigan on Lake Macatawa, which is fed by the Macatawa River.
Edgar Dale Prince was an American businessman, the founder of the Prince Corporation.
Prince's father had started as a salesman making 40 cents an hour, who founded a die cast machine manufacturing firm, Prince Machine Corporation, in 1965, which became a supplier to the automobile manufacturing industry and eventually a billion-dollar company.As business "exploded" Prince began to invest some of the profit through the Prince Group into other types of car parts and shopping malls, creating a network of companies and real estate worth a billion dollars. In the early 1970s, Edgar Prince's company patented a sun visor that could light up and sold 5,000 to General Motors. In the '90s, the company produced 20,000 a day. Prince and his father toured the world together, visiting the Dachau concentration camp in Germany, a divided Berlin, and Normandy. According to his mother, these trips "made a big impression" on the young Prince.
A patent is a form of intellectual property. A patent gives its owner the right to exclude others from making, using, selling, and importing an invention for a limited period of time, usually twenty years. The patent rights are granted in exchange for an enabling public disclosure of the invention. In most countries patent rights fall under civil law and the patent holder needs to sue someone infringing the patent in order to enforce his or her rights. In some industries patents are an essential form of competitive advantage; in others they are irrelevant.
A sun visor is a component of an automobile located on the interior just above the windshield. They are designed with a hinged flap that is adjustable to help shade the eyes of drivers and passengers from the glare of sunlight.
General Motors Company, commonly referred to as General Motors (GM), is an American multinational corporation headquartered in Detroit that designs, manufactures, markets, and distributes vehicles and vehicle parts, and sells financial services, with global headquarters in Detroit's Renaissance Center. It was originally founded by William C. Durant on September 16, 1908 as a holding company. The company is the largest American automobile manufacturer, and one of the world's largest. As of 2018, General Motors is ranked #10 on the Fortune 500 rankings of the largest United States corporations by total revenue.
Prince was accepted into the United States Naval Academy and attended it for three semesters before leaving, citing that he loved the Navy but disliked the Academy. He went on to receive his B.A. in economics from Hillsdale College in 1992.Some sources say Prince dropped out of the Naval Academy, while others say he transferred to Hillsdale. During his time at Hillsdale, he served as a volunteer firefighter and as a cold-water diver for the Hillsdale County Sheriff's Department. Prince eventually became an emergency medical technician.
The United States Naval Academy is a four-year coeducational federal service academy adjacent to Annapolis, Maryland. Established on 10 October 1845, under Secretary of the Navy George Bancroft, it is the second oldest of the United States' five service academies, and educates officers for commissioning primarily into the United States Navy and United States Marine Corps. The 338-acre (137 ha) campus is located on the former grounds of Fort Severn at the confluence of the Severn River and Chesapeake Bay in Anne Arundel County, 33 miles (53 km) east of Washington, D.C. and 26 miles (42 km) southeast of Baltimore. The entire campus is a National Historic Landmark and home to many historic sites, buildings, and monuments. It replaced Philadelphia Naval Asylum, in Philadelphia, that served as the first United States Naval Academy from 1838 to 1845 when the Naval Academy formed in Annapolis.
A Bachelor of Arts is a bachelor's degree awarded for an undergraduate course or program in either the liberal arts, sciences, or both. Bachelor of Arts programs generally take three to four years depending on the country, institution, and specific specializations, majors, or minors. The word baccalaureus should not be confused with baccalaureatus, which refers to the one- to two-year postgraduate Bachelor of Arts with Honors degree in some countries.
Economics is the social science that studies the production, distribution, and consumption of goods and services.
In 1990, Prince secured a low-level internship in the White House under George H.W. Bush,but soon left to intern for California congressman Dana Rohrabacher, President Ronald Reagan's former speechwriter. Rohrabacher described Prince as "a bright, driven young man." At the age of 21, Prince volunteered to search for a mass grave in Nicaragua, to expose killings under President Daniel Ortega and later said that he had found one.
The White House is the official residence and workplace of the President of the United States. It is located at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW in Washington, D.C. and has been the residence of every U.S. President since John Adams in 1800. The term "White House" is often used as a metonym for the president and his advisers.
Dana Tyrone Rohrabacher is an American politician, who served in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1989 to 2019. A Republican, he formerly represented California's 48th congressional district for the last three terms of his House tenure.
Ronald Wilson Reagan was an American politician who served as the 40th president of the United States from 1981 to 1989. Prior to his presidency, he was a Hollywood actor and union leader before serving as the 33rd governor of California from 1967 to 1975.
After college, Prince was commissioned as an officer in the United States Navy via Officer Candidate School in 1992. He went on to become a Navy SEAL and deployed with SEAL Team 8 to Haiti, the Middle East, and the Balkans. He credits the SEALs for being an outlet for his entrepreneurial spirit. In his autobiography he states that during the Yugoslav Wars in the early 1990s, he realized that there was a need for private training facilities for special operations.
Haiti, officially the Republic of Haiti and formerly called Hayti, is a country located on the island of Hispaniola, east of Cuba in the Greater Antilles archipelago of the Caribbean Sea. It occupies the western three-eighths of the island, which it shares with the Dominican Republic. Haiti is 27,750 square kilometres (10,714 sq mi) in size and has an estimated 10.8 million people, making it the most populous country in the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) and the second-most populous country in the Caribbean as a whole.
The Middle East is a transcontinental region centered on Western Asia, Turkey, and Egypt. Saudi Arabia is geographically the largest Middle Eastern nation while Bahrain is the smallest. The corresponding adjective is Middle Eastern and the derived noun is Middle Easterner. The term has come into wider usage as a replacement of the term Near East beginning in the early 20th century.
The Balkans, also known as the Balkan Peninsula, is a geographic area in southeastern Europe with various definitions and meanings, including geopolitical and historical. The region takes its name from the Balkan Mountains that stretch throughout the whole of Bulgaria from the Serbian-Bulgarian border to the Black Sea coast. The Balkan Peninsula is bordered by the Adriatic Sea on the northwest, the Ionian Sea on the southwest, the Aegean Sea in the south and southeast, and the Black Sea on the east and northeast. The northern border of the peninsula is variously defined. The highest point of the Balkans is Mount Musala, 2,925 metres (9,596 ft), in the Rila mountain range.
Prince ended his U.S. Navy service prematurely in 1995 when his father died. Erik assumed control of daily operations at Prince Machine Corporation for a year until 1996 when his mother sold the company for $1.35 billion in cash to Johnson Controls.
Prince moved to Virginia Beach and personally financed the formation of Blackwater Worldwide in 1997. 6,000 acres (24 km2) of the Great Dismal Swamp of North Carolina and set up a school for special operations. The name "Blackwater" comes from the peat-colored bogs in which the school is located.He bought
Prince credits the 1994 Rwandan genocide with his decision to start Blackwater. He later said, "It really bothered me. It made me realize you can't sit back and pontificate. You have to act."
From 1997 to 2010, Blackwater was awarded $2 billion in government security contracts,more than $1.6 billion of which were unclassified federal contracts and an unknown amount of classified work. From 2001 to 2010, the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) awarded up to $600 million in classified contracts to Blackwater and its affiliates. It became the largest of the State Department's three private security companies, providing 987 guards for embassies and bases abroad. Prince built a shooting range on his rural Virginia land to serve as a nearby training facility to CIA headquarters in Langley, Va. In his memoir Prince says that he provided the CIA with links to Afghan warlords who helped "topple the Taliban and drive al Qaeda into hiding."
Blackwater came under increasing criticism after the Nisour Square massacre in September 2007, in which Blackwater employees opened fire in a crowded square in Baghdad, killing 17 Iraqi civilians and seriously wounding 20 more. Three guards were convicted in October 2014 of 14 manslaughter charges, and another of murder, in a U.S. court.
The criticism continued after president Barack Obama took office in 2009. Prince said he believes that much of this criticism stems from politics. "I put myself and my company at the CIA's disposal for some very risky missions," Prince told Vanity Fair for its January 2010 issue. "But when it became politically expedient to do so, someone threw me under the bus."
Nevertheless, in 2010 the Barack Obama administration awarded the company a $120 million United States Department of State security contract and about $100 million in new CIA work.
Prince has defended Blackwater's work, pointing to the fact that in 40,000 personal security missions, only 200 involved guards firing their weapons. He has said, "No one under our care was ever killed or injured. We kept them safe, all the while we had 30 of our men killed."
Prince, according to author Robert Young Pelton, reportedly thinks of Blackwater's relationship to the military as something similar to FedEx's relationship to the U.S. Post Office: "an efficient, privatized solution to sclerotic and wasteful government bureaucracy."He credits his father's competitive streak in the automotive business with the inspiration to design a lighter, faster army.
Prince resigned as CEO of Blackwater on March 2, 2009, and remained chairman of the board until he sold the company in late 2010 to a group of investors.
Prince was part of a CIA task force created to kill terrorists. Allegedly, the House intelligence congressional committee leaked his name to the press.Prince has said that he is convinced that former CIA director Leon Panetta outed him as a CIA asset, after shutting down the covert CIA training operation in 2009.
After Blackwater faced mounting legal problems in the United States, Prince was hired by the crown prince of Abu Dhabi and moved to Abu Dhabi in 2010. His task was to assemble an 800-member troop of foreign troops for the U.A.E., which was planned months before the Arab Spring.He helped the UAE found a new company named Reflex Responses, or R2, with 51 percent local ownership, carefully avoiding his name on corporate documents. He worked to oversee the effort and recruit troops, among others from Executive Outcomes, a former South African mercenary firm hired by several African governments during the 1990s to defeat violent rebellions in addition to protecting oil and diamond reserves.
As of January 2011, Prince was training a force of 2,000 Somalis for anti-piracy operations in the Gulf of Aden. The program was funded by several Arab countries, including the United Arab Emirates and backed by the United States. Prince's spokesman, Mark Corallo, said Prince had "no financial role" in the project and declined to answer any questions about Prince's involvement. John Burnett of Maritime Underwater Security Consultants said, "There are 34 nations with naval assets trying to stop piracy and it can only be stopped on land. With Prince's background and rather illustrious reputation, I think it's quite possible that it might work."
Prince currently heads a private equity firm called Frontier Resource Group and is chairman of Frontier Services Group Ltd, a Bermuda-incorporated logistics and transport company listed on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange.Frontier Services Group is backed by China's state-owned CITIC Group and Hong Kong-based investor Chun Shun Ko. Prince's ventures advise and support Chinese investment in oil and gas in Africa.
In May 2014, it was reported that Prince's plan to build a diesel refinery in South Sudan, in which $10 million had already been invested, was suspended. The halted refinery project was reported to be supported personally by the country's president, Salva Kiir Mayardit.Frontier Services Group was reported to be paid $23.3 million by South Sudan's Ministry of Petroleum to transport supplies and perform maintenance on oil production facilities.
As part of Prince's Africa-focused investment strategy, Frontier Services Group purchased stakes in two Kenyan aviation companies, Kijipwa Aviation and Phoenix Aviation, to provide logistics services for the country's oil and gas industry.In October 2014, the Kenya Civil Aviation Authority denied Kijipwa Aviation an aviation license renewal.
Prince also purchased a 25% stake in Austrian aviation company Airborne Technologies. In 2014, Prince commissioned the company to modify Thrush 510G crop-dusters with surveillance equipment, machine guns, armor, and other weapons, including custom pylons that could mount either NATO or Russian ballistics.One of the modified crop-dusters was delivered to Salva Kiir Mayardit's forces in South Sudan shortly before a contract with Frontier Services Group was cancelled. Frontier Services Group owns two of the modified Thrush 510Gs, but since executives learned the craft had been weaponized by Prince, the company has declined to sell or use the aircraft to avoid violating U.S. export controls.
In 2016 Prince supported Republican candidate Donald Trump for President of the United States. Prince had no formal role in Trump's transition. In December 2016 Prince visited the transition team offices in New York City. In April 2017 as part of a broader investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 United States elections the Federal Bureau of Investigation is investigating a January 11, 2017 meeting in the Seychelles at which Prince presented himself as Trump's unofficial representative.
In August 2016, Donald Trump Jr. had a meeting with envoy representing the crown princes of the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia – Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan of Abu Dhabi and Mohammad bin Salman – who offered help to the Trump presidential campaign.The meeting included Prince and Joel Zamel, an Israeli specialist in social media manipulation.
Prince lives in both Middleburg, Virginiaand Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. He converted to Catholicism in 1992 and describes himself as a practicing member of the church.
Prince describes himself as a libertarian.He has said, "I'm a very free market guy. I'm not a huge believer that government provides a whole lot of solutions. Some think that government can solve society's problems. I tend to think private charities and private organizations are better solutions."
Prince credits his time as a White House intern with some of his political views. He said that "having that White House internship responsibility and badges, I walked around some of these other cavernous federal agencies, and you want to talk about depressing? Walk through HHS or HUD or Commerce, you name it. Leviathan realized."Speaking of his internship, Prince said, "I saw a lot of things I didn't agree with--homosexual groups being invited in, the budget agreement, the Clean Air Act." Disenchanted, Prince became a backer of presidential candidate Pat Buchanan.
Prince has advocated for a leaner, more efficient military. He suggests several ways to make the military more efficient without compromising security. His suggestions include: greater accountability of costs, using appropriate equipment for each job, reduction of overhead, and operational and procurement reform.
Between 1998 and 2007, Prince donated more than $200,000 to Republican and third-party causes.In 2006, Prince contributed money to the Green Party of Luzerne County, Pennsylvania as part of a failed effort to help Republican Rick Santorum defeat Democrat Bob Casey. He has also donated to the Family Research Council, a beneficiary of the Prince and DeVos families since the 1980s.
In 2016 Prince contributed $250,000 to Donald Trump's presidential campaign, and $100,000 to Make America Number 1, a Trump-aligned super PAC helmed by Rebekah Mercer.
Prince serves as vice president of the Prince Foundation, which his family founded.In the 1990s Prince founded the Freiheit ("Liberty") Foundation, a nonprofit charity which funded a number of conservative causes. Prince has often donated to organizations which promote Christian causes, including the Acton Institute for the Study of Religion and Liberty and the Prison Fellowship, and politically conservative groups such as the Council for National Policy, of which his father was vice president at the time of his death. Prince supported a Muslim orphanage in Afghanistan and built mosques at Blackwater bases.
Prince is the younger brother of United States Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos,and the brother-in-law of former Alticor (Amway) president Dick DeVos.
Prince's first wife, Joan Nicole,died of cancer in 2003 at age 36. She introduced Prince to Catholicism. They had four children. He later wrote that he had an affair with Joanna Ruth Houck, his children's nanny, while his wife was dying. Prince and Houck married in 2004. He is now married to Stacy DeLuke, a former Blackwater spokeswoman.
Prince has seven children. His youngest child, Charles Donovan Prince, was named after William "Wild Bill" Donovan.
| Library resources about |
|By Erik Prince|
Academi is an American private military company founded in 1997 by former Navy SEAL officer Erik Prince as Blackwater, renamed as Xe Services in 2009 and now known as Academi since 2011 after the company was acquired by a group of private investors. The company received widespread notoriety in 2007, when a group of its employees were convicted of killing 14 Iraqi civilians in Nisour Square, Baghdad for which four guards were convicted in a U.S. court.
Fred Fisher Fielding is an American lawyer. He held the office of White House Counsel for US Presidents Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush in addition to serving as an Associate and Deputy White House Counsel for Richard Nixon under John Dean. Fielding was also of counsel to the presidential transition of Donald Trump.
Robert Young Pelton is a Canadian-American author, journalist and documentary filmmaker. Pelton's work usually consists of conflict reporting and interviews with military and political figures in warzones. His career is notable because of the number of conflict zones he has reported from and the breadth of important figures he has interviewed. His reputation is built on his history of entering forbidden, deadly and violent places.
Alvin Bernard "Buzzy" Krongard was the Executive Director of the Central Intelligence Agency. He was appointed by George Tenet on March 16, 2001.
Elisabeth Dee DeVos is the 11th and current United States Secretary of Education since 2017.
Joseph Edward Schmitz is an American lawyer, former inspector general of the United States Department of Defense and a former executive with Blackwater Worldwide. After working as a watchdog at the Pentagon for three and a half years, Schmitz resigned to return to the private sector. Although allegations questioning his stewardship of the inspector general's office surfaced nine months after his resignation, a high-level review board, the President's Council on Integrity and Efficiency, cleared him of all wrongdoing in 2006. He was named one of Donald Trump's foreign policy advisors for his 2016 presidential campaign.
Presidential Airways (PAW) is a charter cargo and passenger airline currently based at Melbourne International Airport serving Melbourne, Florida, USA. Presidential is now a subsidiary of Aviation Worldwide Services, owned by AAR Corp.
Mark Corallo is an American political communications and public relations professional, who is the co-founder and co-principal of Corallo Comstock. A Republican, he formed Corallo Media Strategies, a public relations firm. He was the communications director for the U.S. Department of Justice under Attorney General John Ashcroft, and later became a senior adviser with The Ashcroft Group.
SCG International was founded in 1996 to provide government and private sectors with domestic and international security, logistics and training services. After SCG and its former CEO Jamie Smith lost a $9.5 million lawsuit, the Virginian-Pilot reported that SCG was apparently defunct and that Jamie Smith had left the United States. In August 2012, the US Air Force debarred the company for a period of three years from any federal assistance.
Blackwater: The Rise of the World's Most Powerful Mercenary Army is a book written by independent journalist Jeremy Scahill, published by Nation Books in 2007, as a history and analysis of Blackwater USA, now called Academi. It won one of the 2007 George Polk Awards.
Jeremy Scahill is an American investigative journalist, writer, the founding editor of the online news publication The Intercept and author of Blackwater: The Rise of the World's Most Powerful Mercenary Army, which won the George Polk Book Award. His book Dirty Wars: The World Is a Battlefield was published by Nation Books on April 23, 2013. On June 8, 2013, the documentary film of the same name, produced, narrated and co-written by Scahill, was released. It premiered at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival.
On September 16, 2007, employees of Blackwater Security Consulting, a private military company, shot at Iraqi civilians, killing 17 and injuring 20 in Nisour Square, Baghdad, while escorting a U.S. embassy convoy. The killings outraged Iraqis and strained relations between Iraq and the United States. In 2014, four Blackwater employees were tried and convicted in U.S. federal court; one of murder, and the other three of manslaughter and firearms charges.
Eli Jon Lake is an American journalist and the former senior national security correspondent for The Daily Beast and Newsweek. Currently, he is a columnist for the Bloomberg View. He has also contributed to CNN, Fox, CSPAN, Charlie Rose, the I Am Rapaport: Stereo Podcast and Bloggingheads.tv. He is known for his correspondence from both the US and abroad, including such war zones as Sudan, Iraq, and Gaza.
Mark Mazzetti is a two-time Pulitzer Prize-winning American journalist for the New York Times. He currently serves as a Washington Investigative Correspondent for the Times.
Adam Ciralsky is an award-winning American journalist, television and film producer and attorney. Many of his original reports have been optioned and adapted for film and television through his production company P3 Media. In 2018, Ciralsky's P3 Media signed a first-look deal with ABC Studios for scripted content.
The Intercept is an online news publication dedicated to what it describes as "adversarial journalism". It is supported financially by First Look Media, owned by Pierre Omidyar. Its editors are Betsy Reed, Glenn Greenwald, and Jeremy Scahill. Former editor Laura Poitras left the publication to work on non-fiction films. The Intercept also publishes two podcasts: Intercepted hosted by Scahill and Deconstructed hosted by Mehdi Hasan.
The Prince Foundation, formerly known as the Edgar and Elsa Prince Foundation is a charitable foundation that was founded in 1979 and is based in Holland, Michigan. It is a major financial supporter of the conservative Christian causes in the state of Michigan and at the national level. The foundation was formed by Western Michigan auto parts manufacturer Edgar Prince and his wife Elsa. Its vice president is Erik Prince, the founder of Blackwater USA.
Frontier Services Group (FSG) is an Africa-focused security, aviation, and logistics company founded and led by Erik Prince, the former head of Blackwater Worldwide. Prince has described FSG's main corporate mission as helping Chinese businesses to work safely in Africa. The company operates logistical projects for shipping routes in Africa, and also conducts high-risk evacuations from conflict zones.
Blackwater 61 was the callsign of a CASA 212, registration N960BW, operated by Presidential Airways Inc, the aviation subsidiary of the private security contractor Blackwater USA, that crashed in the mountains of remote central Afghanistan on November 27th, 2004. The turboprop airplane was carrying three military passengers and three members of the flight crew when it crashed. According to the NTSB investigative report of the accident, the Blackwater pilots were "behaving unprofessionally" and were "deliberately flying the nonstandard route low through the valley for fun." The accident contributed to the debate over the use of private military contractors in war-zones and Blackwater's hiring practices and standard operating procedures. Blackwater aircraft had been operating in Afghanistan under contract with the U.S. military to transport troops and supplies throughout the country. Five people aboard the aircraft died in the crash, while one later died awaiting rescue.