Erik Prince is the billionaire mercenary who behind the private military contracting empire of Blackwater and their many war crimes. He's also the brother of US education secretary Betsy Devos (who in turn is married to the guy who pioneered pyramid schemes) and has served as a kind of "shadow advisor" to Trump, including an effort to privatize the entire war in Afghanistan and an alleged secret trip to the Seychelles to negotiate with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
He's basically Destro from GI JOE, but in real life, and somehow more evil (and without the shiny head).
The Intercept had previously reported that the Trump Administration had considered using Prince's black-ops services to counter the made-up threat of the "Deep State." Now the New York Times has confirmed that this happened, in a way that's both shadier than I would've expected and somehow still not all that surprising:
One of the former spies, an ex-MI6 officer named Richard Seddon, helped run a 2017 operation to copy files and record conversations in a Michigan office of the American Federation of Teachers, one of the largest teachers' unions in the nation. Mr. Seddon directed an undercover operative to secretly tape the union's local leaders and try to gather information that could be made public to damage the organization, documents show.
Using a different alias the next year, the same undercover operative infiltrated the congressional campaign of Abigail Spanberger, then a former C.I.A. officer who went on to win an important House seat in Virginia as a Democrat. The campaign discovered the operative and fired her.
This is exactly the kind of immoral intelligence tactics that Trump has complained about when it happens to him, while simultaneously encouraging it to happen to other people. Perhaps even more frustrating is that this spy work was done on behalf of Project Veritas, the sleazy conservative sting operation that has elevated entrapment in a new kind of propaganda art. (You may remember them that deceptively edited Planned Parenthood video that allegedly "proved" that they gleefully sell baby parts for profit — none of which actually held up under scrutiny, unless you were already firmly convinced that Planned Parenthood was evil, in which case, it effectively re-confirmed all of your biases about the liberal mainstream elitist blah blah blah.)
Project Veritas has of course always asserted itself to be apolitical and agendaless — the pinnacle of journalistic integrity. But as this demonstrates, they're basically just a wing of a right-wing operation that literally views every non-conservative as an literal enemy insurgent in an ongoing war that they are determined to win. Why else do you hire private military contractors known for war crimes to target a teachers union?
Erik Prince Recruits Ex-Spies to Help Infiltrate Liberal Groups (Mark Mazzetti and Adam Goldman / New York Times)
Trump White House weighing plans for private spies to counter "Deep State" enemies (Matthew Cole and Jeremy Scahill / The Intercept)
Image: Miller Center / Flickr (CC 2.0)