Erik Prince, the politically savvy CEO of Blackwater USA, took advantage of a confluence of events—a rise in terrorism coupled with military cutbacks and an administration committed to outsourcing—to create one of the fastest-growing US contractors of the past decade. The Washington Post investigates the extraordinary rise of the private security firm that sees itself as a "free market version" of the armed services.
The company, which provides security for diplomats and military training services in nine countries—one security expert calls "the Cadillac of training services"—had $600 million in government contracts last year, up from $100,000 a decade ago. Prince rejects the charge that his men constitute a trigger-happy private army. "If they don't like what we're doing," he said of US officials, "then cut off that revenue stream right now."