BLACKWATER FOUNDER WELCOMES ADDITIONAL OVERSIGHT AND SUPPORTS PROSECUTION IF WRONGDOING IS FOUND IN THE BAGHDAD SHOOTING INCIDENT LAST MONTH -- "60 MINUTES"
Erik Prince Says Mistakes can be Made, but There's Evidence His Men Were Fired on
The founder of embattled private security firm Blackwater U.S.A. welcomes any additional oversight the U.S. government would impose on his armed guards stemming from the shooting incident in Baghdad last month in which 17 Iraqis died. Erik Prince tells Correspondent Lara Logan that he also supports the prosecution of his men should any of them be found to have acted badly when they opened fire on a Baghdad street after the explosion of a car bomb. The interview, his first for television since his appearance before Congress, will be broadcast on 60 MINUTES Sunday, Oct. 14 (7:30-9:00 PM, ET/7:00-9:00 PM, PT) on the CBS Television Network.
"We absolutely want more oversight. We welcome the accountability. We want a good name for this industry," Prince says, acknowledging that his and other private security companies operating in Iraq have acquired bad reputations. "I'm glad the FBI's investigating. I'm glad they can be a neutral party. And if there's further investigation or prosecution even needed, if someone really did wrong and meant badly, I'm all supportive," he tells Logan in the interview conducted yesterday(12) at his North Carolina headquarters.
In the incident last month, Blackwater employees guarding a convoy of U.S. State Department officials opened fire after the explosion of a car bomb. In addition to the 17 Iraqi deaths, at least 24 others were wounded. A U.S. military report has concluded the Blackwater team was not fired upon. Prince vigorously defended the training of his men and believes they acted according to the rules of engagement that the U.S. military operates under. He says he has evidence they were fired upon. "And the fact is three of our vehicles had pock marks in them from incident reports that I saw. So, clearly-- our guys were not shooting at each other," says Prince. One of the Blackwater vehicles had its radiator damaged from bullets and had to be towed away, Prince says.
"Sure, you know, mistakes can be made. I'm not saying anyone, our guys, no one's perfect," Prince tells Logan. "But bad things don't generally happen by themselves. And, you know, this whole incident started with a very large car bomb [that] blew up right outside a venue where one of our teams was there with an American," he says.