Library to Feature Mercenary Leader in New Speaker Series

Erik Prince, found of Blackwater, will sing the praises of private warriors.

Here’s a bit of news that’s a month old, but which you might find interesting:

The Justice Department brought new charges Thursday against four former Blackwater Worldwide security guards accused of taking part in a shooting in Baghdad six years ago that killed 14 unarmed civilians, wounded 18 and enraged public opinion in Iraq.

A federal grand jury in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia returned a fresh indictment charging the four guards with voluntary manslaughter and other crimes in the shooting in Nisour Square.

The guards were providing security under a State Department contract for diplomats in Iraq at the time of the shooting. On Sept. 16, 2007, they were part of a four-vehicle convoy that was securing an evacuation route for U.S. officials fleeing a bombing. The guards told U.S. investigators that they opened fire on the crowd in self-defense.

In a long investigation after the attack, the FBI and federal prosecutors concluded that the shooting was an “unprovoked illegal attack” on civilians.

In all, 32 Iraqi civilians were killed by Blackwater guards in the incident. Why is this interesting? Because the Free Library of Philadelphia is bringing Blackwater’s founder, Erik Prince, to town to talk about how Blackwater guards are awesome.

We just received the letter from the library, promoting Prince as one of three speakers in the library’s new (expensive!) speaker series: “Leading Voices: Conversations from the C-Suite,” which is “a new morning lecture program featuring the brightest minds in business.” Tickets to the events are $40 apiece.

Prince will speak on Nov. 22. He’ll be promoting his new book, Civilian Warriors: The Inside Story of Blackwater and the Unsung Heroes of the War on Terror. We’ll assume the “unsung heroes” aren’t the ones who kill lots of civilians, but who do make $1.5 billion over eight years providing security to government agencies apparently unable to fend for themselves. We’re sure Philadelphia’s business leaders will be able to learn a lot from him.