Jeremy Scahill, author of “Blackwater: The Rise of the World's Most Powerful Mercenary Army,” said recent media interviews with Erik Prince, owner of Blackwater USA, “would make the barons of the Soviet media empire blush with embarrassment for how this was handled,” on PBS’s “Bill Moyers Journal.”
Scahill appeared on Moyers’ October 19 show to discuss Blackwater USA – an entity with which he clearly has an ax to grind.
“Prince’s P.R. advisers then launched a round of press interviews where Prince, armed with this video of his men rescuing a Polish diplomat in Baghdad, could make his case on his terms,” Moyers said. “As the press was helping him spin his story, he was blaming the press.”
Scahill echoed Moyers’ sentiments.
“But there is also something that sort of reminded me of Jack Nicholson in ‘A Few Good Men’ where he's talking about I eat my cereal, you know, meters away from Cubans who want to kill me,” Scahill said. “Where Erik Prince uses terms like the bad guys and our blood runs – runs red, white and blue.”
According to Scahill, Prince is ideologically driven to spread religion.
“Well, I mean, I believe that Erik Prince is an ideological foot soldier,” Scahill said. “And I do believe that he’s a Christian supremacist. And I think it's very easy to explain that.”
However, Prince’s company, Blackwater USA, performs a service for the U.S. government more efficiently and at a lower cost than the government could on its own.
“Well today, the head of the diplomatic security service for the State Department, which would be the group that would be doing this if it weren't Blackwater, said it would actually cost them more than that – about $500,000 to train and equip its guards and send them to Iraq,” ABC correspondent Jonathan Karl said on the October 2 “World News with Charles Gibson.”
According to Gibson, the federal government is paying Blackwater about $400,000 per Blackwater employee. Assuming the cost savings are around $100,000 per employee, for 1,000 Blackwater employees that are in Iraq as reported by the October 2 “CBS Evening News,” the government is saving $100 million by hiring the private contractor.
Still, Moyers framed the issue as Prince making off with American tax dollars as if it were some sort unscrupulous practice: “Erik Prince is the man who assembled a private army in Iraq with tax dollars, provided by the U.S. government – you.”
Since Prince’s Blackwater USA has been on the ground in Iraq, not a single dignitary has been killed by a terrorist attack. In fact, the private defense contractor made a daring rescue of the Polish ambassador on October 3.
But that’s not good enough for Scahill.
“Oh, yeah,” Scahill said. “Yeah. And of course, and – you know, the Republicans in Congress during the hearings said that's the statistic that’s most important. But the question needs to be asked, at what price?”
So, it’s curious as to why Moyers would refer to Scahill in his introduction as “a one-man truth squad,” when he clearly has an ideological tilt. However, the Business & Media Institute has documented that balanced, objective journalism hasn't exactly been a staple of Moyers’ show.