In the past two weeks, Erik Prince, the CEO of embattled private security firm Blackwater USA, has orchestrated an aggressive public relations campaign in efforts to save his company’s reputation in the face of multiple scandals. In his media blitz, Prince has given interviews to The Washington Post, Newsweek, The Wall Street Journal, CNN’s “Late Edition with Wolf Blitzer,” CBS’ “60 Minutes” and PBS’ “Charlie Rose” amongst others.
As the next step of the PR campaign, Blackwater sent an e-mail blast today, encouraging supporters to contact “elected Congressional representatives” with “letters, e-mails and calls” with the goal of “influencing the manner in which they gather and present information.” Blackwater also provided “suggested themes” for supporters to follow:
– Cost efficiency of Blackwater — saving the US taxpayer millions of dollars so that the US Government doesn’t have to take troops from their missions or send more into harms way
– Professional population of service veterans and mature law enforcement personnel
– Sacrifice in lives lost by Blackwater saving US diplomats without one single protectee harmed
Blackwater’s claim to cost efficiency is specious at best. According to documents made available to the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, “It costs the U.S. government a lot more to hire contract employees as security guards in Iraq than to use American troops.”
According to the data, “the average per-day pay to personnel Blackwater hired was $600,” which is significantly more than uniformed soldiers:
An unmarried sergeant given Iraq pay and relief from U.S. taxes makes about $83 to $85 a day, given time in service. A married sergeant with children makes about double that, $170 a day.
Army Gen. David H. Petraeus, the top U.S. commander in Baghdad overseeing more than 160,000 U.S. troops, makes roughly $180,000 a year, or about $493 a day. That comes out to less than half the fee charged by Blackwater for its senior manager of a 34-man security team.
Read the full e-mail here.