Category Archives: Iraq

Blackwater Founder Implicated in Murder?

The Nation.com is reporting in an article written by Jermey Scahill

“A former Blackwater employee and an ex-US Marine who has worked as a security operative for the company have made a series of explosive allegations in sworn statements filed on August 3 in federal court in Virginia. The two men claim that the company’s owner, Erik Prince, may have murdered or facilitated the murder of individuals who were cooperating with federal authorities investigating the company. The former employee also alleges that Prince “views himself as a Christian crusader tasked with eliminating Muslims and the Islamic faith from the globe,” and that Prince’s companies “encouraged and rewarded the destruction of Iraqi life.”

In their testimony, both men also allege that Blackwater was smuggling weapons into Iraq. One of the men alleges that Prince turned a profit by transporting “illegal” or “unlawful” weapons into the country on Prince’s private planes. They also charge that Prince and other Blackwater executives destroyed incriminating videos, emails and other documents and have intentionally deceived the US State Department and other federal agencies. The identities of the two individuals were sealed out of concerns for their safety.

These allegations, and a series of other charges, are contained in sworn affidavits, given under penalty of perjury, filed late at night on August 3 in the Eastern District of Virginia as part of a seventy-page motion by lawyers for Iraqi civilians suing Blackwater for alleged war crimes and other misconduct. Susan Burke, a private attorney working in conjunction with the Center for Constitutional Rights, is suing Blackwater in five separate civil cases filed in the Washington, DC, area. They were recently consolidated before Judge T.S. Ellis III of the Eastern District of Virginia for pretrial motions. Burke filed the August 3 motion in response to Blackwater’s motion to dismiss the case. Blackwater asserts that Prince and the company are innocent of any wrongdoing and that they were professionally performing their duties on behalf of their employer, the US State Department.”

For the full story click HERE.

Powerful and potentially damaging allegations.  It will be intersting to see how this plays out.  (Thank you Kerry for bring the story to my attention.)

Two Xe (Blackwater) Agents killed in Iraq

blackwaterhelicopter2005

“A helicopter from private military contractor Xe crashed outside Baghdad on Friday, killing two crew members and leaving two other injured, a company spokeswoman said.

The MD-530 “Little Bird” went down Friday morning at Butler Range, a training facility outside Baghdad, said Stacy Capace, a spokeswoman for the company formerly known as Blackwater.

An investigation into the crash is under way, and it was not known whether there was any hostile fire in the area at the time”.  

Condolences to the families of the Private Security Contractor’s lost and a speedy recovery to the injured.  

For the full story, click HERE

 

Source: TF

Industry Spotlight: Bodyguard Michael Brown

Icon – Behind the Bodyguard Business holds a spotlight where we feature someone in the Executive Protection, Security or Investigation industry.  Our hope is to provide some insight into our profession and also show newcomers & the media that people from all walks of life and all parts of the globe do this type of work with honor and pride.   No it’s not like the movies, but it can be rewarding, thrilling, and yes, sometimes fun.

PPS Michael Brown instructing in the Middle East
PPS Michael Brown instructing in the Middle East

Agent Name: Michael D. Brown

Company Name: Bishop Innovative Group, LLC

Website: www.bishopinnovategroup.com

Home city: Jacksonville, FL


What made you decide you wanted to get into the Protection industry?

After serving as a Marine Security Guard at a few embassies, it just seemed to click. Different aspects of the job just came natural to me, almost like applying common sense. Along with the gratitude expressed by the protectees…I thought, “This could be a very great job with some nice perks and incentives.” Can you give us some examples of the formalized training have you taken? I have received training via U.S. Marine Corps, U.S. State Department, training through law enforcement agencies, with the company formally know as Blackwater, and a ton of self-educating through reading several author’s books on the topic. You never know enough to stop training or learning!

What are some of the differences between working in the military and as a private contractor?

In the military you KNOW what training the guy next to you has had because chances are you attended the same course allowing you to operate in a more cohesive atmosphere. In the private sector you can run into people who “know someone who knows someone” that gets them in on a detail with little or no training. This is what hurts the industry and the true professionals out there trying to make a respectable living. You can’t ‘pose’ as a protective agent in the military…you either are or you’re not.

Considering you have vast operational experience working overseas in “hostile environments” how do you make the transition between an area like Iraq where the treat level is extremely high, and say a domestic EP assignment where more subtleness is required?

Its my belief that you have to pay closer attention when working domestic details because of the would be assailant’s ability to blend in with the environment much better, their being more educated and knowledgeable on our tactics and the tech savvy knowledge with placing surveillance devices in rooms and vehicles. In overseas high-risk details your footprint is large and overt. You want people to know you are escorting the client once out of the vehicle(s) to give a “hard target” appearance.  With no true traffic laws to obey and most of the time the locals moving out of the way when rolling in a 2-3 vehicle convoy (smile), time to target is relatively short. So driving would be the main issue I find I must adjust to the most. Its never a problem with toning down the level of aggression because within both locations awareness is the key, not aggression.

Can you share a bit of one of your best experiences in the industry so far?

Having the client remember your name and asking for you to return (by name) for future details.  Kareem Abdul-Jabbar gave me a signed Legends of Final Four basketball card in a plastic case…that was sweet too!

To someone coming up after you in the industry, what advice would you give?

Ask yourself if you possess a spirit of service and be honest with your answer. If you cannot be a service provider on a continual basis, look for another line of work. Find a mentor. Listen to the mentor. Educate yourself on the profession and get as much training in first aid, BLS, tactical combat casualty, defensive driving, and of course EP as possible. Get your concealed weapons license and/or your State’s license that allows you to work as a ‘bodyguard’. Also, if you plan on working overseas, get a passport and go to AAA and get your international driver’s licenses. Those I believe will lay a strong foundation to build upon.

Personal Protection Specialist Michael Brown can be reached at- Email: bishopinnovativegroup@gmail.com Phone:  904-514-5727

Blackwater Revamps Image, Changes Name

Blackwater Logo

RALEIGH, N.C. – Blackwater Worldwide is still protecting U.S. diplomats in Iraq, but executives at the beleaguered security firm are taking their biggest step yet to put that work and the ugly reputation it earned the company behind them.

Blackwater said Friday it will no longer operate under the name that came to be known worldwide as a caustic moniker for private security, dropping the tarnished brand for a disarming and simple identity: Xe, which is pronounced like the letter “z.”

For the full story click Here.

Well we all know Blackwater has had some problems. The question remains will a fresh coat of paint make everything brand new or is this just a way to get some of their detractors off of their back?

Related: My interview with Portfolio Magazine regarding Blackwater and the rise of Private Security.

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Executive Protection Video Interview

A direct link to the interview series with Conde Nast Portfolio Magazine on the World of Security and the differences associated with Executive Protection, Celebrity Security and High Risk Overseas Details.

And if you hadn’t seen it before, you can check out the companion article here.

Former CIA Agent States Waterboarding Is Torture

Waterboarding Diagram

A former CIA officer said interrogators used a simulated drowning technique on a senior al-Qaida member, and that he believes the method is torture…CIA Director Michael Hayden is to testify Tuesday to the Senate Intelligence Committee about the CIA’s destruction of videotaped interrogations of Zubaydah and another senior al-Qaida captive.

Another hot button topic that has people talking.  Waterboarding is know to be very effective in the interrogation process, that is pretty much undisputed, but is it torture by US standards?  The argument is that many lives were saved by the information gained, but did we become as bad as the “bad guys” in doing it?  Anyone who has ever had a near drowning experience can tell you the fear of death is very pronounced.  So how do you weigh in on the issue? 

Click on the above link for the full story.

Iraq Just Got A Little Safer

 

Just got the the call yesterday, two private contractors and personal friends of mine, Call sign: Achilles and Call sign: The Spaniard, are on their way to the Sandbox.  Above and beyond being highly skilled and motivated individuals, they are some genuinely great guys who would give you the shirt off their backs.  So when the media uses terms like “Mercenaries” and paints all private security contractors with a broad brush like they do with Blackwater, keep in mind that their are individuals who have values, morals and ethics with the best of us operating in Iraq.  –They just shoot and duck better.

So Achilles, I’m sure your iron stomach will adapt to the cuisine just fine, and if not The Spaniard will work it off you with his normal hour 5 hour gym sessions!

  -Be well and Be safe.

The Legal Woes Continue for Blackwater

Federal prosecutors have issued grand jury subpoenas to some of the Blackwater employees present at a Sept. 16 shooting in Baghdad in which the company’s security personnel killed 17 Iraqi civilians, lawyers in the case and government officials briefed on the matter said Monday.  The opening of the grand jury inquiry is a significant step in the case because it indicates that prosecutors believe that there is enough evidence of wrongdoing to warrant a formal criminal investigation.  

Grand Jury = Trouble 

Click on the link for the full story.

ICON CEO, Elijah Shaw Interviewed For Portfolio Magazine

CONDÉ NAST PORTFOLIO Magazine did an informative article on what executives need to know and expect when choosing an Executive Protection Firm. Entitled, Covering Your Assets, the piece written by Susan Karlin is meant to educate Executives and Security Directors on what to screen for when hiring a bodyguard.

Below is an excerpt from the article.

According to Elijah Shaw, whose St. Paul, Minnesota, firm Icon Services has guarded many corporate and celebrity clients, most security personnel come from military or police backgrounds, but that experience doesn’t fully translate to an executive-security job without going through special training.

“Sharpshooting or arrest experience may come in handy, but it’s not the main focus, which is to keep your client out of harm’s way and make his day go as smoothly as possible,” Shaw explains. Shaw says that top schools for executive-protection training include Executive Security International, Trojan Securities International, and R.L. Oatman & Associates, so it’s a good sign if an agent has attended one of these programs.

“Some firms can spend a lot of money on marketing and hype, like recruiting a couple of pedigreed security figures as marketing tools but assign the executive a person with less experience,” Shaw adds. “So you should check out the credentials and chemistry of the specific person assigned to guard you. After all, this could be someone who might one day have to put his life on the line for you.”

Click on the above link to read the full story.

To accompany the print article, Portfolio.com also conducted a video interview that highlighted more of my personal opinions on the word of private security. Click on the player to watch the video.

Blackwater Agents Granted Immunity In Shooting

Blackwater

The State Department promised Blackwater USA bodyguards immunity from prosecution in its investigation of last month’s deadly shooting of 17 Iraqi civilians, The Associated Press has learned.  The immunity deal has delayed a criminal inquiry into the Sept. 16 killings and could undermine any effort to prosecute security contractors for their role in the incident that has infuriated the Iraqi government….Three senior law enforcement officials said all the Blackwater bodyguards involved — both in the vehicle convoy and in at least two helicopters above — were given the legal protections. (Emphasis mine)

Now this one has got my head hurting.  Keeping in mind that everyone is innocent until proven guilty, this one has me confused.  An arm of the State Department granted the parties allegedly involved in the shooting immunity???  If not the decisions made by the individual contractors, what exactly would they be investigating then? 

Please expect another round of fallout.

Click on link for the full story.