Erik Prince, a former Navy SEAL and founder of the private security firm Blackwater, said during an interview that aired Wednesday his personnel rescued then-Sens. Joe Biden, John Kerry, and Chuck Hagel from Taliban-held territory in Afghanistan in 2008.
After the White House criticized him for charging thousands of dollars to evacuate people from the country ahead of an Aug. 31 deadline, Prince, in an interview for “Tucker Carlson Today” that aired on streaming network Fox Nation, said that Blackwater personnel responded when a military helicopter carrying Biden, Kerry, and Hagel was forced to make an emergency landing due to inclement weather.
His aired comments — it’s not clear when the actual interview took place but seems timely since the segment focused on current events in Afghanistan — came after he was called out by White House press secretary Jen Psaki earlier in the day for charging people $6,500 to get out of Afghanistan, which she said proved Prince has no soul and was making money off “people’s agony and pain.”
But the Blackwater founder told Carlson that his team was largely responsible for rescuing the future president, who was the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and would become then-Sen. Barack Obama’s vice president, while Kerry would become secretary of state and Hagel Obama’s defense secretary.
“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 said. “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,” he continued, as Carlson asked if they “were grateful.”
“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,” he added.
The interview aired as Prince was taking flak from the White House over the evacuation fee, even as the administration itself was being blasted for likely abandoning hundreds or thousands of Americans after a poorly planned and executed withdrawal operation.
“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,” Psaki told reporters Wednesday.
She went on to rip Prince and his operation after being pressed specifically on it.
“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 added.
A press release from Kerry’s office at the time credited the U.S. military with the rescue, not Blackwater contractors.
“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,” Kerry’s office said in a statement. “Sen. Kerry thanks the American troops, who were terrific as always and who continue to do an incredible job in Afghanistan.”
The State Department initially was set to charge Americans $2,000 to cover the costs of evacuating them but then scrapped the plan after it was exposed and the administration criticized for it.
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