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Hearing of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform - Blackwater USA; Private Security Contracting in Iraq & Afghanistan

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Location: Washington, DC


Hearing of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform - Blackwater USA; Private Security Contracting in Iraq & Afghanistan

BREAK IN TRANSCRIPT

REP. JIM COOPER (D-TN): Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

Mr. Prince, in the charter or bylaws of your corporation, either the holding company or Blackwater, does it say explicitly that it will only work for the United States of America or its entities?

MR. PRINCE: No, it doesn't. But if I could clarify, anything we do for any foreign government -- any training of anything from law enforcement training to any kind of aviation training, tactical flying, any of that stuff -- all of that is licensed back through the State Department -- another part of the State Department.

REP. COOPER: But you're the owner of the company, the CEO. If limitations like this are not in the charter and bylaws, isn't there a risk that, should something happen to you, that different management, in order to maximize profits, might seek contracts from any number of other foreign countries, like if Vladimir Putin offered a lot of money? Why would you want to turn that down, as a business entity?

MR. PRINCE: Because you'd be violating federal law and the whole place could be shut down very, very quickly.

REP. COOPER: But you're assuming a State Department license would apply.

MR. PRINCE: Oh, it does. I mean --

REP. COOPER: You're a regular private company. You can --

MR. PRINCE: No, no, no, no, sir. I'm sorry. We have to have a license to train --

REP. COOPER: But I'm not talking about training other people's private police. Say you took some of your former -- people who were former Navy SEALs, Special Forces, whatever, and they're working for hire. What prevents you in your current company charter or bylaws to prevent those -- hiring out those people to foreign governments?

MR. PRINCE: U.S. federal law does.

REP. COOPER: Which law?

MR. PRINCE: Defense Trade Controls Act. Any training, any security services, any export of any weapons, any equipment you'd use to do that kind of job requires a license.

And on top of that, this idea that we have this private army in the wings is just not accurate. The people we employ are former U.S. military and law enforcement people, people who have sworn the oath to support and defend the Constitution against all enemies, foreign and domestic. They bleed red, white and blue. So the idea that they're going to suddenly switch after having served honorably for the U.S. military and go play for the other team? Not likely.

REP. COOPER: But these are -- independent contractors are employees. They're supposed to do what they're told. And is your omission of this key bit of information from the charter or bylaws only due to the fact that it would be redundant? If it's assumed, why don't you go ahead and put it in the charter and bylaws: these people, this company, will only work for the United States of America and its entities? Why wouldn't that be a nice addition to the charter or bylaws?

MR. PRINCE: That wouldn't make any sense because we have NATO allies helping in Afghanistan, helping the United States mission there, and there might be opportunities for us to support -- provide them with training or aviation support or logistics or construction or a lot of other things that allies need. Especially as the U.S. is trying to build capacity around the world, there's a lot of countries that need help building out their police departments, giving them more counterterrorism capability and --

REP. COOPER: Twenty-six NATO allies, so you could work for any of them?

MR. PRINCE: Twenty-six NATO allies, but more and more the U.S. government is doing FID missions, foreign internal defense. We've done a number of successful programs for them, working for the U.S. government, where they hire us, we go in and we build that capacity, and train them and provide the equipment, all of which is licensed by the State Department. When we apply for that license, it goes to the State Department and they farm it out to the relevant part of the DOD to control and authorize that licensing -- what's the curriculum going to be, what tactics, even down to which individual in which country is going to be trained so they can do a check on them. So that is all controlled by the U.S. government already, sir.

REP. COOPER: On your website, it says that you did -- you were contracted to enhance the Azerbaijan naval sea commandos' maritime interdiction capability. Is Azerbaijan a member of NATO?

MR. PRINCE: No, but that was paid for by the U.S. government.

REP. COOPER: Well, let me ask another question.

MR. PRINCE: It was part of their regional engagement policy. I don't make that policy, sir.

REP. COOPER: Wouldn't it be nice to put in your charter and bylaws that you only work for U.S. or U.S.-approved entities? Why would that be harmful to your company?

MR. PRINCE: We would be happy to do that, but it is absolutely redundant because we can't work for someone that's not U.S.-approved.

REP. COOPER: Redundancy is a small objection to making sure that you're a loyal U.S. company.

Let me ask another question. What if a large company inside the United States of America wanted to hire your company for services, say to break a strike or for other purposes like that? Is that allowed under your charter and bylaws?

MR. PRINCE: That's not something -- not something we've even explored.

REP. COOPER: But it would be permissible under your current company charter? It's a new line of business, possibly?

MR. PRINCE: No.

REP. COOPER: That might be very profitable?

MR. PRINCE: That's not something we're looking at, not part of our strategic plan at all, sir.

REP. COOPER: I know, but you're a mortal human being. Your company would allow it, according to its current charter and bylaws?

MR. PRINCE: Well, I have five boys that I'm raising, so one of them perhaps will take over someday.

REP. COOPER: Why not put it in the charter and bylaws?

Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I see that my time has expired.

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