And Prince Will Always Be King

We recently wrote, “To date, Erik Prince has kept his name and is not referred to as the ‘Mercenary Formerly Known as Prince.’” 

Apparently we spoke too soon. Prince, founder of the armed conglomerate formerly known as Blackwater, has announced he is stepping down as president and CEO of the beleaguered company.

Prince recently announced Blackwater’s name change to the breathy “Xe” in an apparent effort to break with a past that is costing his company access and money. Iraq refused to relicense his gun-toters, and it seems the State Department will not renew its big-bucks protection services contracts with the company.

The former Navy SEAL also is heir to multimillion dollar manufacturing fortune whose funds helped him build his empire based in Moyock, N.C. When we first wrote about Blackwater three years ago (after reading a six-part Virginia Pilot series on the company), we found Prince accessible and kind enough to speak with us.

But they say war changes people, and Blackwater’s public image went from sexed-up renegades to murderous thugs-for-hire. Protecting their State Department clients was understandably paramount, and they mowed down a few Iraqis to do it. Despite U.S. indictments, we’re sure the boys are thankful for the status of forces agreement; otherwise the U.S. might have handed over the young guns in the name of the greater good.

We’re as fascinated by Blackwater’s every move as the groupies at the Virginia Pilot. Despite the (purposeful?) “upheaval” Blackwater/Xe still is Prince’s company, and he remains its chair. Though his people have put out the word that he’s not involved in Xe’s daily activities, Prince is involved with other aspects of the company’s business, which now includes building stuff (like mine-resistant ambush-protected vehicles and aircraft.)  The company has an aviation arm with more than 70 birds. Xe now is “engaged” in Africa and Afghanistan, areas of more than just a little interest to the U.S. (and Blackwater/Xe  client, the State Department). Prince’s efforts in “business development” probably are better suited to his personality than dealing with the Blackwater mess.   

Xe will always be Blackwater, and Prince will always be king. 

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