Jan Schakowsky says that former Blackwater CEO Erik Prince has “attempted intimidation” of her in response to Schakowsky’s campaign to reduce U.S. reliance on private military contractors in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Schakowsky (D-IL) spoke on the House floor Wednesday about a letter from Prince’s attorneys, dated October 7, 2011, that was delivered by hand to Schakowsky’s office. The letter accuses Schakowsky of making “false and defamatory” statements against Prince.
The letter cites a September 8 article published by the Independent in London about Prince’s Blackwater video game. The article quotes Schakowsky as saying: “If Mr. Prince had not emigrated to the United Arab Emirates, which does not have an extradition agreement with the US, he too would now be facing prosecution.”
“Your statement to [the Independent], which imputes commission of a crime, is per se libelous,” the letter from Prince says, adding: “Your malice cannot be questioned. You have a multi-year history of making derogatory comments about Mr. Prince and his former company, Blackwater. You have abused your Congressional power to request that Mr. Prince be investigated.”
Blackwater has received more than $1 billion in federal contracts in places like Iraq and Afghanistan, and became infamous after four employees were charged with the deaths of 17 Iraqi civilians after allegedly opening fire in Nisour Square in Baghdad in 2007. In December 2009, a judge dismissed the charges citing missteps by the Department of Justice, but earlier this year an appeals court panel ordered the judge to reconsider the case.
Prince resigned in 2009, and the company was rechristened “Xe Services” when it was sold last year.
Schakowsky has introduced the Stop Outsourcing Security Act since 2007, as a way to phase out private contractors like Blackwater. “While the problem applies to other private contractors,” she said Wednesday, “there is one company that has become
synonymous with misconduct: Blackwater.”
“Recently,” she continued, “Mr. Prince has launched a video game, called Blackwater, glorifying the discredited company he started. And now, Mr. Prince has adopted yet another heavy-handed tactic: attempted intimidation of a member of Congress.”
The letter from his attorneys, she said, “characterizes my efforts to urge investigations into Mr. Prince as a violation of Congressional power, and describes possible legal action if I persist.”
“I want to make it clear to Mr. Prince that I will not stop working to end our reliance on private security contractors and to investigate any and all allegations of misconduct,” Schakowsky said.
Read Schakowsky’s full statement and Prince’s letter here.