"erik prince"

Fact-Checkers and Certified Public Logicians

Guestblogger Paul Spinrad is a freelance writer/editor, and is Projects Editor for MAKE magazine. He is the author of The VJ Book and The Re/Search Guide to Bodily Fluids, and was an early contributor to bOING bOING when it was an online zine. He lives in San Francisco.

It's fantastic that so much written knowledge is becoming generally accessible and cross-linked these days, but this is just an intermediate stage-- a universal library on the way to becoming a universal brain. The missing piece is encoding the underlying meaning of the stored text, the deep-structure logic behind it. It's one of the oldest challenges in Computer Science, and there has been lots of progress and companies dedicated to doing this. Powerset, for example, has software that has parsed and can answer questions from all of Wikipedia.

The thing is, you really still need a person to get it most reliably right, because people understand the way the world works. Luckily, we already have people whose job is very close to doing this already-- they're called fact-checkers or researchers, and they work for every reputable publication. Read the rest

Blackwater founder Erik Prince revealed as a CIA spy

Adam Ciralsky's Vanity Fair profile of Erik Prince, the founder of Blackwater ("a company dogged by a grand-jury investigation, bribery accusations, and the voluntary-manslaughter trial of five ex-employees") reveals that Prince was a spy for the CIA while he was at the same time raking in over a billion dollars as a government contractor in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.

The truth about Prince may be orders of magnitude stranger than fiction.

For the past six years, he appears to have led an astonishing double life. Publicly, he has served as Blackwater’s C.E.O. and chairman. Privately, and secretly, he has been helping [the C.I.A.] to craft, fund, and execute operations ranging from inserting personnel into “denied areas”–places U.S. intelligence has trouble penetrating–to assembling hit teams targeting al-Qaeda members.

While his company was busy gleaning more than $1.5 billion in government contracts…Prince, according to sources with knowledge of his activities, has been working as a C.I.A. asset: in a word, as a spy.

Erik Prince: Tycoon, Contractor, Soldier, Spy (Via Disinformation)

Previously: Blackwater owner requests Shari'a law to avoid paying lawsuit ... Blackwater wishes you a very mercenary Christmas - Boing Boing Blackwater beefs up air power, using name of obscure company ... Iraq bans Blackwater mercenaries - Boing Boing Blackwater: superbly researched indictment of America's hired ... Get Your War On on Blackwater - Boing Boing Read the rest

Blackwater owner requests Shari’a law to avoid paying lawsuit damages

Presidential Airways, a division of the private military company Blackwater Worldwide, is being sued for wrongful death by the families of three soldiers killed in a plane crash in Afghanistan.

The company has asked the court to use Shari’a Islamic law to make a ruling on the lawsuit. Why would a right-wing Christian company like Blackwater want to do that?

If the judge agrees, it would essentially end the lawsuit over a botched flight supporting the U.S. military. Shari’a law does not hold a company responsible for the actions of employees performed within the course of their work.

Erik Prince, who owns Blackwater and Presidential Airways, briefly discussed the lawsuit in a meeting today with editors and reporters at The News & Observer. Prince was asked to justify having a case involving an American company working for the U.S. government decided by Afghan law.

“Where did the crash occur?” Prince said. “Afghanistan.”

According to NPR, Blackwater has over $800 million in government contracts.

Blackwater says crash lawsuit governed by Islamic law (via Reason) Read the rest

Blackwater beefs up air power, using name of obscure company

Over at Wired's Danger Room blog, Sharon Weinberger today writes about recent purchases by private security contractor Blackwater Worldwide. The company bought a light attack counterinsurgency aircraft, and more than 24 other aircraft, under the name of an obscure aviation firm:

An Embraer Super Tucano was placed on the U.S. civil aircraft registry on February 21, 2008 under the name of EP Aviation LLC. Additionally, 28 other aircraft have been registered to this company, most over the past few months. The list includes 14 Bell 412 helicopters, as well as a number of fixed wing aircraft.

While Blackwater hasn't advertised this news, neither is it keeping it a state secret (EP Aviation isn't the sneakiest way to hide connections to Blackwater owner Erik Prince). A spokesperson for Blackwater, in fact, confirmed to Danger Room that EP Aviation is an affiliate of Blackwater.

Jane's Defence Weekly first reported last year that Blackwater was trying to get an import license for the Super Tucano. (The Super Tucano's recent registration was first reported as a small item in the April issue of Air Forces Monthly.) But what isn't clear is why the company would register these aircraft under the name EP Aviation LLC.

Link Read the rest

Christian right is co-opting US military and law enforcement

Chris Hedges, the former New York Times Mideast Bureau chief, has written an article for Truthdig about the Christian right's infiltration into US military and law enforcement. He is writing a book called American Fascists: The Christian Right and the War on America.

Erik Prince, the secretive, mega-millionaire, right-wing Christian founder of Blackwater, the private security firm that has built a formidable mercenary force in Iraq, champions his company as a patriotic extension of the U.S. military. His employees, in an act as cynical as it is deceitful, take an oath of loyalty to the Constitution. These mercenary units in Iraq, including Blackwater, contain some 20,000 fighters. They unleash indiscriminate and wanton violence against unarmed Iraqis, have no accountability and are beyond the reach of legitimate authority. The appearance of these paramilitary fighters, heavily armed and wearing their trademark black uniforms, patrolling the streets of New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina, gave us a grim taste of the future. It was a stark reminder that the tyranny we impose on others we will one day impose on ourselves.

Link Read the rest

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