The founder of controversial private military contractor Blackwater, who sparked a furious reaction on Wednesday with his $6,500 evacuation flights from Kabul, has told how his men helped to rescue Joe Biden from Afghanistan in 2008 when his helicopter made an emergency landing.
Erik Prince, 52, was described on Wednesday by White House press secretary Jen Psaki as having no soul, and of profiting from ‘people’s agony and pain’.
Yet Prince, who founded Blackwater in 1997, reminded that Tucker Carlson his team rescued Biden himself.
Biden was the chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee at the time of the February 2008 rescue, and was plucked to safety alongside John Kerry, then a senator for Massachusetts; and Chuck Hagel, then a senator for Nebraska, from the country.
Kerry went on to become Barack Obama’s secretary of state, while Biden was vice president and Hagel was defense secretary.
Joe Biden (in a baseball cap) poses with Chuck Hagel (far left), John Kerry (far right) and some of their rescuers and advisers after their helicopter was downed in a snowstorm in Afghanistan in 2008. Erik Prince, the Blackwater founder, said on Wednesday that his men rescued the Biden group; soldiers from the U.S. military said that they were there too, and dispute Prince’s taking credit for the rescue
Prince, 52, founded Blackwater in 1997. On Wednesday he spoke to Tucker Carlson for his Fox Nation show, and discussed the withdrawal from Afghanistan
It was unclear when the interview was filmed, but Carlson did not ask him about a report in The Wall Street Journal, published online on Tuesday night and in Wednesday’s newspaper, that Prince was charging people $6,500 to be flown out of Kabul
‘They were on a congressional visit to Afghanistan in the winter and the U.S. Army helicopter got lost in a snowstorm and sat down in Taliban territory on the side of a mountain,’ Prince told Carlson.
‘U.S. military launched a ground convoy to get them and they got lost.
‘And the Blackwater guys launched and we did not get lost and we rescued them from Taliban territory. That was the winter of ’08.’
Carlson asked: ‘Are they grateful?’
Prince replied: ‘You would think so, but no. I didn’t get a Christmas card – I have yet to. In their office they thanked the U.S. military.
‘It was veteran contractors, doing their job, once again.’
Prince’s interview on Biden was broadcast as The Wall Street Journal reported the details of his $6,500 evacuation flights from Kabul.
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said Wednesday that she found the business distasteful.
‘We are evacuating people free of cost because that is the right step to take and certainly we wouldn’t be supportive of profiting off people who are desperate to get out of a country,’ she told reporters during her Wednesday press briefing.
After being asked specifically about Prince’s plans, she condemned the proposal in harsher terms.
‘I don’t think any human being who has a heart and soul would support efforts to profit off of people’s agony and pain if they’re trying to depart a country and fearing for their lives,’ she said.
Prince has long been a highly controversial figure. He is pictured in October 2007, testifying before the House Oversight Committee hearing examining the mission and performance of the private military contractor Blackwater in Iraq and Afghanistan
Blackwater’s role is disputed by members of the U.S. military, which was also involved in the operation, according to comments on a blog post.
Soldiers from the 82nd Airborne and the Arizona National Guard were involved, said one man, Shawn Dalrymple.
He said it was ‘not these posers’, referring to Blackwater.
Dalrymple added: ‘As the commander of this unit I am totally at a loss for words for such lies.’
Kerry’s office issued a statement at the time stating they were rescued by U.S. military.
‘After several hours, the senators were evacuated by American troops and returned overland to Bagram Air Base, and left for their next scheduled stop in Ankara, Turkey,’ a statement from Kerry’s office said.
Psaki on Wednesday said that Prince had no heart and soul, and accused him of profiteering
‘Sen. Kerry thanks the American troops, who were terrific as always and who continue to do an incredible job in Afghanistan.’
Prince, a staunch supporter of Donald Trump, whose sister Betsy DeVos served as Trump’s education secretary, is a highly controversial figure.
He first came under international scrutiny after his Blackwater contractors massacred 17 Iraqi civilians in 2007.
Carlson did not ask him about recent allegations that he violated U.N. sanctions by selling weapons to Libya; recruited spies to infiltrate liberal groups in the U.S., and attempted to create a private army in Ukraine.
He has also faced accusations of breaking arms embargoes on Somalia and of setting up a backchannel communications line with the Russian government.
Prince earlier this year denied, in a New York Times interview, playing any role in an $80 million mercenary operation in Libya in 2019, insisting that key findings of the U.N. investigation were entirely wrong.