Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Enjoyable Rapture Post

Just a very quick post today to share this link to The Rapture is not an exit strategy from the Deep Thoughts blog.

Nice job, Mojoey!

Monday, August 10, 2009

Oh Blackwater, (Don't) Keep on Rolling, Mississippi Moon Won't You Keep on Shining on Me

The following story comes courtesy of American Atheists:

The controversial private security army once known as "Blackwater" is at the center of new allegations involving everything from murder to illegal arms dealing.

A former employee of the firm -- now known as XE -- and an ex-Marine who served as a security operative under contract in Iraq -- gave depositions which were filed this past week in federal court. Identified as "John Doe One" and "John Doe Two," the pair made explosive allegations against Blackwater founder Erik Prince. According to a story in The Nation magazine, Prince "may have murdered or facilitated the murder of individuals who were cooperating with federal authorities investigating the company."

One portion of the affidavit claimed that Mr. Prince "views himself as a Christian crusader tasked with eliminating Muslims and the Islamic faith from the globe."

Indeed, Mr. Prince is an unabashed Christian evangelical with a family pedigree of support for religious extremism. He is the son of the late Edgar Prince, a wealthy Michigan industrialist and vocal born-again Christian who bankrolled a number of organizations including James Dobson's Focus on the Family, Promise Keepers, and Donald Wildmon's American Family Association. He also provided the seed money for Gary Bauer's Washington, DC-based Family Research Council. Wife Elsa was active in the semi-secret Council for National Policy, (Board of CNP Governors, 1996 and 1998) a meeting venue for conservatives and religious right leaders.

The elder Prince also funded Christian evangelical ministries like Gospel Communications International, a Michigan-based outreach which produces proselytizing films. Today, that ministry has expanded to include a number of internet-based projects including The Navigators, Intervarsity Christian Fellowship and Children's Bible Hour International.

Erik Prince's sister, Betsy, married Richard DeVos, President of the multi-level marketing giant Amway. DeVos's involvement in religious right politics dates back to the 1970s when he helped found the so-called "Third Century Movement" which grew out of a series of secret meetings in Washington, DC. According to author and historian Sarah Diamond ("Spiritual Warfare, The Politics of the Christian Right"), this was the genesis of the modern religious right. Also "present at the creation" were Bill Bright (Campus Crusade for Christ); insurance magnate Arthur De Moss; and then-Congressman John Conlan. DeVos also bank funded the FRC's glitzy Washington, DC office building. Wife Betsy was prominent in the "school choice" movement, and at one time served as Chair of the Michigan Republican Party.

Erik Prince was born in 1969, gained entrance to the U.S. Naval Academy, but transferred to Hillsdale College in Michigan and graduated in 1992. He served as an intern for George H.W. Bush in 1990, and two years later joined the Navy SEALS. From there, he inherited an estimated $1.3 billion from the sale of his father's company, Prince Automotive, and in 1997 established the Blackwater firm. From there, Prince operated under a Byzantine array of names including Blackwater Security Consulting (2002), and quickly won crucial government contracts. In 2007, Erik Prince testified before Congress during a probe of allegations that Blackwater operatives engaged in misconduct in Iraq and Afghanistan. Prince resigned as Blackwater CEO; meanwhile, the company morphed into XE. Prince has retained his title as Chairman, though, and according to published reports claims little involvement in day-to-day operations.

The depositions filed in federal court portray Erik Prince as a driven, ruthless paramilitary boss with a Christian supremacist vision of global affairs. "John Doe #2" stated in his deposition:

""Mr. Prince intentionally deployed to Iraq certain men who shared his vision of Christian supremacy, knowing and wanting these men to take every available opportunity to murder Iraqis. Many of these men used call signs based on the Knights of the Templar (sic), the warriors who fought the Crusades."

The deposition continues:

"Mr. Prince operated his companies in a manner that encouraged and rewarded the destruction of Iraqi life. For example, Mr. Prince's executives would openly speak about going over to Iraq to 'lay Hajiis out on cardboard.' Going to Iraq to shoot and kill Iraqis was viewed as a sport or game. Mr. Prince's openly and consistently used racist and derogatory terms for Iraqis and other Arabs, such as 'ragheads' or 'hajiis'."

Despite growing problems over the Blackwater-XE operations, Prince has continued the family legacy of serving as philanthropist for religious right interests. He serves as Vice President of the Edgar and Elsa Prince Foundation, which according to provided $630,000 in funding over a three-year period to the Family Research Council, and over $500 to the Focus on the Family. Erik Prince is on the board of the group Christian Freedom International, a nonprofit mission to assist "Christens who are persecuted for their faith in Jesus Christ."

He has also contributed money to the Alliance Defense Fund, a religious advocacy and legal group that defends school prayer, posting of the Ten Commandments on public property and other practices.

Along with the federal investigation into Blackwater and XE, there is a civil suit filed on behalf of Iraqis by the Center for Constitutional Rights. All of this may shed more light on the secretive, "private army" which, say some critics, is the modern day equivalent of the crusaders.

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