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Back in 2007, the little town San Diego County town of Potrero, right near Tecate and 45 miles from the City of San Diego, took on mercenary firm Blackwater USA, which wanted to build an 824-acre training facility only three miles from the town. The county backed Blackwater. But the Potrero citizens won. The mercenaries decided to build elsewhere. Since then, the company has been steeped in controversy. It has changed its name from Blackwater USA to Blackwater Worldwide, to Xe, and to Academi. That's a lot of re-branding in a few short years. An article this week in the Daily Beast reveals how closely Blackwater was linked to the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). A federal prosecution of Blackwater collapsed last month with only minor convictions. (Anybody surprised?) But documents filed in the case were quite interesting, says the Daily Beast. One document said, "Blackwater, or at least portions of Blackwater, was an extension of the CIA." Erik Prince, who sold Blackwater in 2010, told the Daily Beast author, "The company became a virtual extension of the CIA."

Little Potrero didn't know whom it was taking on.

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Comments

Visduh March 14, 2013 @ 4:40 p.m.

CIA fronts don't like to attract attention to themselves. Potrero was focusing attention on Blackwater, and it was near the border to boot. Not good. Blackwater went to friendlier climes, I'm sure.

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Don Bauder March 14, 2013 @ 6:22 p.m.

Visduh: Good point. Blackwater at that time had a big facility in one of the southern states -- North Carolina, perhaps -- and could have expanded there after abandoning Potrero plans. I have always thought Blackwater wanted to be near the border because there were secret plans for it to be active in border patrolling. Best, Don Bauder

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frt2012 March 14, 2013 @ 11:53 p.m.

wow, Looks like a lot of non sense. People who really don't know what they are talking about. Its funny, People don't want to talk about what is really going on in the USA. Oh no, we cant talk about what going on in the USA. We have to talk about what we really know nothing about, and what happened years ago. Yeah years ago, we are now, and I don't hear any of the bull thats going on . just talk about a company that had nothing but ex military that gave everything to do their job there best. Why don't you talk about the brave american that lost there lives protecting US officials in Iraq and Afghanistan. Yes thats what blackwater is about. why not show what they did good, but no the people that talk about Blackwater are heartless, and a coward. Yeah talk about a company that took care of there employee. Blackwater did. The men and women that gave their lives protecting the State officials from Ambassadors, Sec. of State, Vice President, and President in a combat zone. But I don't hear any of that. They have lost over 40 great americans. and Blackwater never lost one person they were protecting. See you people don't talk about the good. Only what story you can come up with that means nothing. I am thinking of all the families that have lost a family member that worked with Blackwater. And all the families that have there loved one come home because of blackwater being there to protect them. Yeah the news media wont tell you that, they only want to tell the negative. Blackwater never lost anyone they were protecting. The guys that went home on leave from Iraq and kept coming back. They know they could die, but they still come back. And all you have to say is negative about that. what a bunch of losers. I may not be a great writer, but my words are the truth.

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Don Bauder March 15, 2013 @ 7:55 a.m.

frt2012: If those who criticize Blackwater are heartless and cowards, then put me down as heartless and a coward. This was a mercenary firm, pure and simple, and its soldiers of fortune were paid far more than U.S. military personnel who were performing the same or similar tasks. Best, Don Bauder

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Sjtorres March 15, 2013 @ 12:40 a.m.

Firms like this are hired by all sorts of Federal agencies. President Obama and Secretary Clinton had them on the payroll and said they were necessary. And they aint mercenaries.

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Don Bauder March 15, 2013 @ 7:56 a.m.

Sjtorres: They aren't mercenaries? Check the record. Best, Don Bauder

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MURPHYJUNK March 15, 2013 @ 8:28 a.m.

who do you think was behind the merc's in Rhodesia ?

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Don Bauder March 15, 2013 @ 12:04 p.m.

Murphyjunk: I thought the mercenaries in Rhodesia fought 35 or 50 years ago. That would probably be before Blackwater's time. However, there could have been mercenaries more recently there, and Blackwater may have been a major influence. I have not heard that but can't declare that your question irrelevant. Best, Don Bauder

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MURPHYJUNK March 16, 2013 @ 8:16 a.m.

and was the cia up to its usual tricks back then?

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photog921 March 15, 2013 @ 11:04 a.m.

Congratulations to the people in East County San Diego (lead organizer was Ray Lutz) who stopped the inappropriate use of one lovely piece of pristine land in the region. Blackwater's bad reputation and secretive operations were also strongly against them, but it was the local people who paid attention, attended the Planning Committee meetings, and organized, to maintain their rural environment.

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Don Bauder March 15, 2013 @ 12:06 p.m.

photo921: Ray Lutz definitely played a big role in Potrero's triumph over the mercenaries. The people of Potrero rose up quickly and effectively. One of their leaders was already touting Blackwater, and he had to be countered. Best, Don Bauder

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tomjohnston March 15, 2013 @ 1:51 p.m.

Wasn't it Erik Prince who sold what was then Xe Services? Perhaps the group of investors who bought the company renamed it Academi to distance themselves from Prince and shake the stigma of associated with him. Remember, originally their intent was to recast the company as a military training organization instead of a private security service.

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Don Bauder March 15, 2013 @ 8:28 p.m.

tomjohnston: Prince sold the company in 2010. Best, Don Bauder

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tomjohnston March 16, 2013 @ 7:46 a.m.

Ah yes indeed he did, of which I am well aware. The point of my comment was to point out your small error, of which you seemingly took notice as I see that you have changed your blog to read Erik Prince instead of Charles Prince. Good on ya.

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raylutz March 15, 2013 @ 8:07 p.m.

I must make the correction that I was not "the lead" in the opposition against the Blackwater project in Potrero because there were may other activists involved and members of the community in Potrero who spent every waking hour, I think, combing through the documents and raising issues. Their normal tactics did not work in a small community like Potrero where almost everyone knows everyone else. The recall election, which required only 137 signatures to get it on the ballot, was essentially a referendum on the training camp. I will admit that I worked my butt off for a couple of years on that project and the several other installations they tried to open, including in Otay Mesa, and at the Los Coyotes Reservation (and arguably responsible for the huge fire that decimated that area.)

Regarding the concept that BW has ties to the CIA is no surprise at all, as many of the actions in areas that are declared wars (like most of the recent wars, it seems) are handled by the CIA, including the use of drones and Blackwater-type private mercenaries.

--Ray

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Don Bauder March 15, 2013 @ 8:30 p.m.

Ray: I haven't said you were the lead. There were several people in Potrero who were front and center. But you were one of the leaders. You are being too humble. Best, Don Bauder

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raylutz March 15, 2013 @ 8:09 p.m.

And you mean to say Erik Prince, not Charles Prince.

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Don Bauder March 15, 2013 @ 8:35 p.m.

ray: That was a Freudian slip on my part. I have corrected it to be Erik Prince. Charles Prince was the former CEO of Citigroup, who was as big a danger to the country as Erik Prince, but in a different field. Best, Don Bauder

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