Attorneys for the founder of infamous private military company Blackwater are threatening to sue a member of congress over statements she made during an interview about the PMC's bizarrely self-aggrandizing video game Blackwater.
Rep. Jan Shakowsky was galled at the idea that Blackwater, a company she says has become synonymous with the misconduct of private military companies, had created a video game that seems to equally trivialise war and boast about Blackwater's heroic efforts to protect aid workers.
The game does nothing to address the myriad of serious accusations levelled against the PMC or accusations by Shakowsky and others, that the company operates under a "culture of recklessness", created by founder John Prince. Blackwater employees have been implicated in a wide range of alleged misconduct since 2004, from shooting and killing civilians to gun-running, the congresswoman points out.
In a September 8 story about the video game by The Independent, Shakowsky goes a step further in her accusations:
"Blackwater is a company of mercenaries who have operated in a way that compromises the safety, reputation, and lives of Americans and Iraqis, and whose employees have been guilty of killings," she said. "The notion of playing a game in which they are the hero is wrong on almost every level."
If Mr Prince had not emigrated to the United Arab Emirates, which does not have an extradition agreement with the US, he too would now be facing prosecution, the Congresswoman said.
Apparently it was that last statement that spurred Prince's attorney to send a letter to the congresswoman threatening legal action, something Shakowsky described to the House yesterday as a new "heavy-handed tactic -trying to intimidate a Member of Congress."
"In short, Blackwater, now renamed Xe, has been a centre of controversy for years — in Congressional committees, the press, and among members of the military," she said on the House floor. " Yet the company has received over $US1.25 billion in taxpayer dollars. Recently, Mr Prince has launched a video game, called Blackwater, glorifying the discredited company he started.
"And now, Mr Prince has adopted a new, heavy-handed tactic — trying to intimidate a Member of Congress. Last month, a letter from his attorney was hand-delivered to my congressional office. I am entering that letter in the Congressional Record. It accuses me of defamatory statements, characterises my efforts to urge investigations into Mr Prince as a violation of Congressional power, and describes possible legal action if I persist."
In the letter, sent to Kotaku from the Congresswoman's office, attorney Victoria Toensing, counsel for Prince, says that Shakowsky's comments about Prince facing prosecution were defamatory and blatantly
The letter proceeds to attack the congresswoman, pointing out that her husband plead guilty to federal fraud charges, then walking through a number of things Prince has done for his country and to support human rights.
"If you do not like the 'Blackwater' video game," the letter concludes, "you are free to express your opinion. But you are not permitted under the laws of the United States and numerous countries where your statements are published to make false accusations about Mr. Prince's status under the criminal law."