Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Erik Prince and Congressman Waxman: Strange Bedfellows?

If you're old enough to remember Watergate, you'll no doubt recall John Erlichman's description of being abandoned by the White House and left to the mercies of a televised Congressional committee investigation. He said he was left to "twist slowly, slowly in the wind." Today, it's Blackwater's CEO, Erik Prince, who is twisting in the wind of Rep. Waxman's committee, but Prince, unlike Mr. Erlichman, apparently intends to do something about it.

See today's Washington Times story, in which Blackwater points the finger of blame at State for turning down it's proposal to install dashboard cameras on convoy vehicles back in 2005: Here

Blackwater's CEO has recently expressed his resentment about the lack of any public support from the State Department for Blackwater. Evidently he is now starting a media campaign of his own, complete with leaks of e-mails. The e-mail leak, and the naming of two of my fellow bureaucrats in the above story, suggest to me that Mr. Prince must see the writing on the wall about the renewal of his contract with State (which I believe is due in May, 2008). Evidently he's cutting loose from State, and trying to salvage his company's reputation for future clients.

Part of that defensive media campaign is this Blog, Blackwater Facts.

The Blog was created in September, 2007, purportedly by "friends of Blackwater," but it's pretty obviously a corporate front. Today's Washington Times story was discussed in a post Blackblawg published yesterday, before today's Times edition came out.

This new twist might just make for Washington's latest pair of strange bedfellows. Is Blackwater's CEO passing tidbits of insider info to Rep. Waxman for him to use against the State Department and the administration? I've noted Waxman's occasional asides to State Department witnesses before his committee to the effect that he gets better cooperation from Blackwater than from State. I'd thought it an odd thing for him to say, but maybe there was more truth to those remarks than I'd supposed.

P.S. - As I was posting this, I heard the news that Ambassador Griffin, State's Assistant Secretary for Diplomatic Security, has decided to resign. No reason has been given but, of course, the whole Blackwater issue and State's lack of adequate supervision of its protective details in Baghdad are the cause.

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