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Of Course Blackwater's Founder Is Involved In The Trump-Russia Probe Now
Erik Prince — brother of new education secretary Betsy DeVos, major donor to President Donald Trump’s campaign, and patriotic founder of Blackwater, the private military corporation that made everybody else’s life harder in Iraq — allegedly used his connections with an Arab crown prince to set up a secret line of communication between the Trump campaign and Russians connected to the Putin regime… before Trump became president, according to reporting by the Washington Post, NBC News, and others.
That sounds like a rejected “Rainbow Six” plotline, right? Let the Washington Post walk us through it:
The United Arab Emirates arranged a secret meeting in January between Blackwater founder Erik Prince and a Russian close to President Vladimir Putin as part of an apparent effort to establish a back-channel line of communication between Moscow and President-elect Donald Trump, according to U.S., European and Arab officials.
The meeting took place around Jan. 11 — nine days before Trump’s inauguration — in the Seychelles islands in the Indian Ocean, officials said. Though the full agenda remains unclear, the UAE agreed to broker the meeting in part to explore whether Russia could be persuaded to curtail its relationship with Iran, including in Syria, a Trump administration objective that would likely require major concessions to Moscow on U.S. sanctions.
Prince’s secret meeting in the Seychelles would be weird in any case. The billionaire is a former Navy SEAL best known for buying thousands of acres of North Carolina brush and establishing the private trigger-pulling company Blackwater, whose excessive contracts, excessive partying, and excessive force helped set America back just a tad in its Iraq operations. Maybe he figured cloak-and-dagger with some Russians would burnish his Jack Ryan cred.
Prince also was a big financial backer of Trump and spent a lot of time on Breitbart’s radio show last year slamming Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, falsely claiming she was part of a child-sex ring and predicting — wrongly, it turns out — that emails from disgraced ex-congressman Anthony Weiner would get a bunch of his fellow Democrats sent to jail:
Since selling off Blackwater, Prince has spent much of his time at a home in Abu Dhabi, setting up an army for the U.A.E.’s rulers and doing them various favors. But those Emirati connections are now the key to the government’s probe into contacts between the incoming Trump administration and Russia.
“Though Prince had no formal role with the Trump campaign or transition team, he presented himself as an unofficial envoy for Trump to high-ranking Emiratis involved in setting up his meeting with the Putin confidant,” the Post reports.
Prince was on hand when Trump won the election and observed taking meetings in Trump Tower during the presidential transition in December.
That’s the same month that Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed al-Nahyan, the crown prince of Abu Dhabi — Prince’s close friend and business associate — quietly came to New York for a meeting with Trump aides Stephen Bannon, Michael Flynn, and Jared Kushner, the news reports say.
A month later, Zayed — who visited Putin twice in 2016 and was close with members of the Russian leader’s inner circle — “was approached by Prince, who said he was authorized to act as an unofficial surrogate for the president-elect,” the Post reported. “He wanted Zayed to set up a meeting with a Putin associate. Zayed agreed and proposed the Seychelles as the meeting place because of the privacy it would afford both sides.”
However much you hate government leakers and random tweeters with "game theories" about Russian collusion, this administration’s got a serious Russia problem and a butt-ton of questions to answer.
The Seychelles, a remote but wealthy archipelago in the Indian Ocean, “is the kind of place where you can have a good time away from the eyes of the media,” a government official from the islands told the Post. “That’s even printed in our tourism marketing. But I guess this time you smelled something.” The Seychelles are also a haven for offshore financial accounts, including one that Ukrainian officials say Trump advisor Paul Manafort’s Putin-connected clients used to launder money illegally.
So what does this all add up to? It means that — however much you hate government leakers and random tweeters with "game theories" about Russian collusion; however badly you want America’s leaders to be all Tom Clancy’d out, secretly saving the world with some handshakes and spycraft; however sympathetic you are to Trump’s attacks on the “fake news” — this administration’s got a serious Russia problem and a butt-ton of questions to answer.
For all the Trump administration’s bluster about how empty the Russia story is, these Russia-Trump connections keep popping up — only because journalists keep finding them. Even if you assume all the contacts were innocuous and overblown by anti-Trump partisans, why the hell were there so many of them? Why were some of those contacts so secretive? And why would you use Prince, a deeply divisive political crony who was already under US intelligence surveillance in early 2016 for his unsavory business dealings with foreign potentates, to set up one of those contacts?
The logical conclusion is not that Donald Trump conspired with a Russian dictator to steal the presidency. But it looks increasingly as if Trump, Prince, Flynn, Kushner, and Bannon all think they’re smart guys who don’t need a State Department, or Air Force One, or staffs, or media watchdogs, or sunshine of any kind, to engage with deceptive and dangerous people. They’re not the first presidential staffers to think that way. But they may be some of the least competent.
The USS Eagle 56 was only five miles off the coast of Maine when it exploded.
The World War I-era patrol boat split in half, then slipped beneath the surface of the North Atlantic. The Eagle 56 had been carrying a crew of 62. Rescuers pulled 13 survivors from the water that day. It was April 23, 1945, just two weeks before the surrender of Nazi Germany.
The U.S. Navy classified the disaster as an accident, attributing the sinking to a blast in the boiler room. In 2001, that ruling was changed to reflect the sinking as a deliberate act of war, perpetuated by German submarine U-853, a u-boat belonging to Nazi Germany's Kriegsmarine.
Still, despite the Navy's effort to clarify the circumstances surrounding the sinking, the Eagle 56 lingered as a mystery. The ship had sunk relatively close to shore, but efforts to locate the wreck were futile for decades. No one could find the Eagle 56, a small patrol ship that had come so close to making it back home.
Then, a group of friends and amateur divers decided to try to find the wreck in 2014. After years of fruitless dives and intensive research, New England-based Nomad Exploration Team successfully located the Eagle 56 in June 2018.
Business Insider spoke to two crew members — meat truck driver Jeff Goodreau and Massachusetts Department of Corrections officer Donald Ferrara — about their discovery.
These CIA officers were the first US boots on the ground in Afghanistan after 9/11 — and one was 'Marine Todd'
Before the 5th Special Forces Group's Operational Detachment Alpha 595, before 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment's MH-47E Chinooks, and before the Air Force combat controllers, there were a handful of CIA officers and a buttload of cash.
The last time the world saw Marine veteran Austin Tice, he had been taken prisoner by armed men. It was unclear whether his captors were jihadists or allies of Syrian dictator Bashar al Assad who were disguised as Islamic radicals.
Blindfolded and nearly out of breath, Tice spoke in Arabic before breaking into English:"Oh Jesus. Oh Jesus."
That was from a video posted on YouTube on Sept. 26, 2012, several weeks after Tice went missing near Damascus, Syria, while working as a freelance journalist for McClatchy and the Washington Post.
Now that Tice has been held in captivity for more than seven years, reporters who have regular access to President Donald Trump need to start asking him how he is going to bring Tice home.
"Shoots like a carbine, holsters like a pistol." That's the pitch behind the new Flux Defense system designed to transform the Army's brand new sidearm into a personal defense weapon.
Sometimes a joke just doesn't work.
For example, the Defense Visual Information Distribution Service tweeted and subsequently deleted a Gilbert Gottfried-esque misfire about the "Storm Area 51" movement.
On Friday DVIDSHUB tweeted a picture of a B-2 bomber on the flight line with a formation of airmen in front of it along with the caption: "The last thing #Millenials will see if they attempt the #area51raid today."