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CONNECT THE WORLD
Former Blackwater CEO Proposes Solution to European Migrant Crisis; A Push for Middle East Peace in Paris; Feud Deepens Between Trump, Congressman John Lewis. Aired 10-11a ET
Aired January 15, 2017 - 10:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[10:00:33] ZAIN ASHER, HOST: The American president-elect and a civil rights icon: a feud deepens after congressman John Lewis questions the
legitimacy of Donald Trump's presidency. Next, the latest on the war of words.
Also ahead, push for peace in Paris, diplomas from 70 countries have come together to
try to revive talks between Israelis and Palestinians. A live report on the progress of the conference coming up.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ERIK PRINCE, FOUNDER, BLACKWATER: The European navies are making the most difficult part of the passage the easiest and the safest.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ASHER: The man who led one of America's most notorious mercenary groups in Iraq and Afghanistan now has his own ideas for people running away from
conflicts like that. How the founder of Blackwater thinks Europe's refugee crisis can be solved. All that and more later on in the program.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ASHER: All right, welcome, everyone. I want to get you up to speed on some political controversy that's been brewing here in the U.S. It is
Martin Luther King Jr. weekend here. And Donald Trump spent part of his Saturday criticizing a man who once marched by Martin Luther King's side.
John Lewis, you can see him in this photo here, was an early student organizer. He survived police beatings. He arranged sit-ins during the
height of segregation in this country and he won a seat in congress. Now he plans to boycott the inauguration, because he says the Russians
interfered in the election.
He said on Friday, he does not believe that Donald Trump is, quote, unquote, a legitimate president.
Trump, of course, fired back on Saturday tweeting Congressman John Lewis should spend more time on fixing and helping his district which is in
horrible shape and falling apart, not to mention crime infested rather than falsely complaining about the election results, all talk, talk, talk, no
action or results, sad.
Well, just to get you up to speed on the facts here. Parts of the district are struggling, but to say that the entire district is falling apart is an
overstatement. For the record, John Lewis's distrinct includes most of Atlanta, and within it, our CNN headquarters there, plus headquarters for
Delta Airlines, Coca-Cola, including the posh district area of Burkhead as well.
Now, for whether Lewis is all talk, Republican Senator tweets, "John Lewis and his talk have changed the world." And House Minority Leader Nancy
Pelosi writes, "let us remember that many have tried to silence John Lewis over the years, all have failed."
So much to talk about here. Let's bring in CNN political commentator and Republican
strategist Alice Stewart.
Alice, thank you so much for being with us.
So, I understand that John Lewis called Donald Trump him quote, unquote an illegitimate president, but when you're president, shouldn't you rise above
trashing and insulting a civil rights icon? Shouldn't some things be off limit?
ALICE STEWART, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, look at Donald Trump's record, any time someone attacks him, he attacks back. And this is no
exception and nobody should read anything more into it.
But let me give a little context here, I grew up in Atlanta not far from where you are in the fourth district right beside Congressman Lewis's fifth
district. I followed him my entire life every step he's taken to further the civil rights movement, to further voting rights
for African-Americans and to help his district, I've followed every step of it. I think he is an icon. He is a legend. He has done more for the
African-American community than people will ever begin to know.
There is a reason why he was re-elected 14 times in as congressman in that district because his talk led to action which led to results for the
people. That is undeniable. And I am a big fan of Congressman Lewis.
However, for him to say that Donald Trump is an illegitimate president when he won the electoral college, he won 306 of 270 votes, that is
indisputable. And for him to blame the Russians for Hillary Clinton's defeat, that's wrong. Hillary Clinton, not the Russians, didn't have a
message that resonated with people.
ASHER: Alice, the intelligence agencies have said that Russia on some level did interfere. So
does John Lewis have a point at all?
STEWART: There's no disputing that Russia interfered with the election and whether or not it
had anything to do with the outcome, that has not been proven.
And, look, it's Hillary Clinton, not the Russians, that didn't campaign in battleground states. It's Hillary Clinton, not the Russians, that didn't
have a message that resonated with the American people. And it was her campaign, not the Russians, that spiked the football in the third quarter,
declared victory and didn't really follow through to the finish line on these -- on her presidential campaign. That is why she lost. It has
nothing to do with the Russians.
And I think Congressman Lewis is a wonderful, fine man and a wonderful congressman and a civil rights icon, but he is dead wrong on these two
ASHER: Well, Alice, one more thing. I had no idea that you grew up in Atlanta. You grew up in the fourth district is what you said. So when you
see Donald Trump tweeting that Congressman Lewis' district is crime- infested, falling apart, in horrible shape what do you make of that as someone who grew up in Atlanta yourself.
STEWART: Like you said, it's got some fine parts. Buckhead is a great place where CNN is, where my (inaudible), are. It's a phenomenal district.
Every district has struggling areas. But you look at the education rate in John Lewis' district and it is good for an inner city. There are some fine
things that he's done in that district.
And I think for him to attack at district that he may not know 100 percent where the district stands and how it's doing, I think that may have been
something that Donald Trump may not possibly should have done, because I don't agree with that. Because I think the fifth district is a wonderful
inner city district and it's in large part due to the work that Congressman Lewis has done over the years.
ASHER: OK, so you're saying that they are both wrong, essentially Lewis was wrong to call Donald Trump an illegitimate president, but at the same
time, Donald Trump should not have the attacked back in the way he did.
Alice Stewart, we're running out of time so we have to leave it there. Thank you so much as always.
STEWART: Thank you, Zain, have a great day.
ASHER: You, too.
STEWART: Well, Donald Trump is already signaling that he is open to make major foreign policy changes when he takes office. He told The Wall Street
Journal he is not opposed -- he is not opposed to lifting sanctions on Russia even though just days ago he said for the first time that Russia was
behind the hacking of Democratic officials.
So let's talk more about this with our Matthew Chance who joins us live now from Moscow.
So, Trump saying there, Matthew, that he would be open to lifting sanctions and he gave a condition. He said that as long as long as Russia helps the
U.S. defeat terrorists. What has been the Kremlin's response to that?
MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, they haven't directly responded to that except to say that they believed all along that
sanctions are illegitimate. That's been their response to all these sanctions from the outset.
Look, I mean, Donald Trump has said this kind of thing before. In fact, during his campaign as
you well know, one of his most consistent platforms was to build better relations with Russia, or to say that that's what he was going to do if he
were elected president, he's talked about cooperating with Russia and partnering up with them in Syria to fight international terrorism. He's
and even talked about recognizing Russia's annexation of Crimea, which it took from Ukraine in 2014. So, all of this has been music to the Kremlin's
And what we saw in this Wall Street Journal interview is him basically reaffirming that even though he's now apparently acknowledged that Russia
may have been behind the hacking, which is what the U.S. intelligence services, of course, told him. He is still looking towards a detente
towards building bridges with Russia. And, of course, that -- that's very welcome news from a Kremlin point of view.
ASHER: So, Donald Trump did say in terms of lifting the sanctions, though, that he wouldn't
necessarily do it immediately. It may take a little while once he gets into office. But how would that affect -- how would that boost Russia's
position on the international stage, on the world stage, if sanctions were to be lifted? How would that be a gamechanger for them?
CHANCE: Well, I think it would make things a little easier economically. Russia has been in an economic crisis for the past couple of years and the
sanctions have compounded that. The crisis, I have to say, has mainly been because of the oil price. Russia is a big oil exporter, its economy is
based on the export of oil, and the oil prices plunged to such an extent that that has an impact on the economy, and then the sanctions were imposed
which complicated matters even further.
Look, it will be -- it will be a real good bit of economic news from the Russian point of view
to see these sanctions which have limited it in all sorts of ways, both from the United States and from the European Union, to be lifted. The
difference of what Donald Trump said, though, is that he basically put a conditionality on the lifting of the sanctions if Russia were to cooperate,
for instance, on international terrorism. But, in fact, the sanctions are there for the most part, although there were different sets of sanctions --
the sanctions are there for the most part because of Russia's activities in Ukraine, its annexation of Crimea, and up until now the lifting of the
sanctions have been linked to Russia doing what it needs to do in eastern Ukraine.
ASHER: All right, Matthew Chance, have to leave it there. Thank you so much. Appreciate that.
Well, President-elect Trump has said he's skeptical about NATO. But the alliance is pushing ahead with its show of result against Russia. Poland
officially welcomed 4,000 U.S. troops Saturday afternoon on a snowy Saturday afternoon there in Poland. It is part of NATO's build-up that
sends a clear message to Moscow that it is committed to its allies. Air defense and missile systems that Russia sent to Crimea have now been put on
combat duty. Here's our Atika Shubert with more.
ATIKA SHUBERT, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: The Star Spangled Banner plays in Poland, welcoming the U.S. troops for NATO's Operation
Atlantic Resolve, the biggest U.S. deployment in Europe for decades.
This is the official welcoming ceremony for those U.S. troops. And Poland's Prime Minister Beata Szydlo is here. And she made a point in her
speech to say that this is an integral part of Poland's national security, that everyone in Poland had a right to feel safe and secure and this is
exactly what the arrival of U.S. troops has done here.
Poland's prime minister spoke to CNNN after the ceremony. She said this is very important
for Poland and the region. We lived in Europe where there are many external threats. Russian policy is
confrontational, she said, for states bordering Russia such as Poland. This constitutes a real threat. We are conscious that Poland must
strengthen its alliances, she said.
And it's an impressive rollout. Four battalions of 1,000 soldiers each, more than 2,000 pieces of military hardware including, U.S. tanks and
armored vehicles, all coming from the third armored brigade combat team of the fourth infantry division out of Fort Carson, Colorado.
They are here for nine months, deployed not only in Poland, but Romania, Hungary, Bulgaria
and other NATO allies bordering Russia. It's a show of force to deter Russia from repeating its
aggression in Ukraine and the annexation of Crimea.
MAJ. GEN. TIMOTHY MCGUIRE, DEP. COMMANDER, U.S. LAND FORCE IN EUROPE: There's no more powerful combat formation in the United States Army, and I
would say this is a very weltering, well-trained, well-equipped, well-lead brigade combat team.
This is another sign of the United States commitment in deterrence and our commitment to not only our Polish allies, but those allies in NATO.
SHUBERT: U.S. tanks in Poland, the Kremlin says are, quote, a real threat to Russian security. Still, in less than a week, Moscow will have a new
administration to face in Washington and make its case for policy changes.
Now Russia may not be happy with this deployment, but Polish public opinion, well, that's
another matter. Take a look at this. This is just some of the armored vehicles and tanks that have been brought over for this operation here.
They have been put on display for the day here in Shigon (ph), Poland, to show the public some of the hardware that is coming across. It's all part
of this effort to show that the NATO alliance remains strong, that Poland, other eastern
European allies will be collectively defended by this alliance.
Atika Shubert, CNN, Shigon (ph), Poland.
ASHER: All right, still to come here on Connect the World, we look at a peace conference that sparked an angry reaction and has some key absences
as well. It is a very different story when it comes to peace talks about ending Syria's War. There's just been an important addition to the guest
list. We'll tell you who that is in just a moment.
[10:15:30] ASHER: A warm welcome at The Vatican. You're watching Pope Francis greeting Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas this
weekend. The occasion was the opening of a Palestinian embassy and Vatican City. The Vatican has referred to
Palestine as a state since 2012 after the UN voted to recognize it as a non-member observer state.
All right, well, you are watching CNN. And this is Connect the World. I am Zain Asher. Welcome back for all of you.
I want to turn to Paris now, and a conference on peace in the Middle East that is facing major obstacles from the start. France right now is hosting
talks with 70 countries aimed atgetting the stalled Israeli-Palestinian peace process back on track.
But get this, none of the Palestinians, the Israelis, nor the incoming United States administration are attending. That's one major hurdle there.
In fact, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu just hours ago lashed out at what he called a useless conference dismissing the talks as the
death throes of an ailing world order.
I want to go straight now to our Oren Liebermann who is covering these talks.
So, Oren, even though you have leaders from 70 countries. What realistically can be done to move the peace process forward, the two-state
solution process forward, if you don't have Netanyahu there nor the Palestinians?
OREN LIEBERMANN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, part of the idea here was to come up with some sort of different conclusions of the
conflict, Jerusalem, borders, refugees, security. And that was the point here.
But as you point out neither the Israelis nor Palestinians were invited to the conference itself. IT was kind of an idea of how does the
international community approach these different issues. We'll find out the results of the conference in just about an hour-and-a-half when there
are closing remarks. But it's non-binding. It's recommendations. And it's not the UN or the EU or any other organizations even though those
member states are there. So, we'll see what kind of influence it has.
The fear from the Israeli side is that what's decided here with the resolution that's put forward from this conference is then taken to the
security council this week and is passed in the final days of the Obama administration, that is the major Israeli concern here.
ASHER: But the Israelis certainly feel emboldened, because one thing that Netanyahu said is tomorrow's world will be different and it is near,
clearly a nod to Donald Trump.
How emboldened do the Israelis feel about the fact that you have a new administration, that they are on friendlier terms with, taking over in
about five days from now?
LIEBERMANN: Very much so. First, right after the election, Netanyahu was at least subtle
about making it evident that he was looking forward to President-elect Donald Trump. Now there's nothing subtle about it. He's openly state it
had and he's at least referenced it here in his cabinet statement from earlier this morning.
Whether that changes anything, it's certain that Trump sees the Middle East at least much more closely to how Netanyahu sees it than how the Obama
administration saw it. The fear again there is that a UN Security Council resolution, if passed in the coming days, Trump could ignore that
resolution for four years, but it's still there. It's almost impossible to take a resolution off the books and that's why it's so troubling to the
ASHER: All right, Oren Liebermann live for us there, thank you so much. Appreciate that.
All right, I want to turn to some other stories that we are following. Donald Trump may be facing his very first big foreign policy test. Turkey
says the U.S. will be invited to talks regarding the Syria War. I want to go straight to our Muhammad Lila who is covering this
So, Muhammad, if -- I believe this is not Muhammad -- Turkey says, the U.S., as I mentioned, will be invited to the talks in Kazakhstan which is
just three days after Trump is set to take office. Meantime, a retired Syrian general was assassinated during a trip that was part of
reconciliation efforts. Seen here -- take a look at this video -- the brown leather jacket.
The government negotiator was on a visit to a critical water source. Millions in and around Damascus have been without water for weeks.
Let's go straight now Muhammad Lila, who I believe we do have now.
So, Muhammad, just explain to us if the U.S. is invited to these talks, if they do end up attending, what sort of role will they end up playing? Will
it be more of a back seat role?
MUHAMMAD LILA, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, it's a good question mark because you have to ask the question what kind of currency does the
United States have left in Syria? What kind of leverage does it have on the ground in
order to enforce or even propose anything?
You have to remember that this cease-fire was negotiated by Turkey and Russia with Iran's
involvement and of course Syria's involvement. Turkey and Russia themselves said that they will
guarantee the cease-fire holds.
All of this was done over the course of several weeks, if not months, without any U.S. involvement at all. The United States wasn't part of
those negotiations. The United States wasn't asked to be part of those negotiations.
And you know, we've been talking about how the United States has now been invited to these talks in Astana. Well, to be more correct, it's not the
United States that's being invite, it's the administration of Psresident- elect Donald Trump. Russia and Turkey could have invited President Obama's administration to these talks for the past several weeks, but they didn't.
And they chose three weeks after Donald Trump -- three days after Donald Trump's inauguration to make that invitation so that just as he's becoming
president, or he has become president, three days into his presidency, he'll face that big test which is will he choose to get involved in Syrian
conflict in a meaningful way or will he takes a hands off policy. And at this point you don't know what the answer is going to be.
[10:20:55] ASHER: So, it's interesting, this dynamic, because on the one hand you have -- if the U.S. ends up attending, you have the U.S. who is
backing the Kurds and Russia who has been backing Assad, then Turkey who is not for the U.S. backing the Kurds and not for Russia backing Assad. So,
it so complicated. So, how will you get really peace off the ground when you have so many different people with so many conflicting wants and
LILA: Well, it's just like the cease-fire itself. You know, there was an announcement of a cease-fire and hailed as a major breakthrough, but there
has still been fighting raging in many different parts of the country despite the cease-fire.
But of course Russia and Turkey both saying that the cease-fire is holding. And even before we get to those peace talks in Astana, we're already seeing
some fireworks between the U.S. State Department, for example, that has come out publicly and said, well, the Kurds should have a role at these
peace talks as well. And Turkey's foreign minister firing back and saying, well look, if you want to invite the Kurds to the table, why don't we just
-- why doesn't the United States just invite ISIS to the table and give them a role to play as well.
So already there's some fireworks going on back and forth.
The problem with these peace talks is that everybody has their own groups on their ground. They have their own proxies, and have their own agenda.
And it's going to be very difficult to get everybody on the same page as far as some sort joint announcement or some sort of joint agenda.
And you have to remember, there are a lot of red lines that people have simply refused to cross. For example, Syria has refused to discuss the
future of President Bashar al-Assad saying that he's been elected and that he has a popular mandate, but Turkey on the other hand, has come out
forcefully and said, no, Assad must go. And, of course, that's been the United States' position as well.
So what's going to happen at these peace talks when everybody has all these rigid lines we don't know, but it highlights the difficulty of getting any
sort of long-term peace process going when every side seems so unwilling to budge.
ASHER: And Muhammad, speaking of peace, just explain to us what the situation is on the ground with the current cease-fire?
LILA: Well, the cease-fire, officially anyway, according to Turkey and Russia is still holding, but we know there has been some fighting going on.
You alluded to an assassination earlier today. This was a Syrian military general who was part of a negotiating team trying to get Syrian government
engineers access to a water treatment facility that some rebel groups in the past had denied that water treatment facility was actually damaged.
The UN said it had been deliberately targeted without saying who targeted it. But that resulted in a major water crisis in Damascus where 4 million
people, more than 4 million actually, who live in the city, didn't have access to clean drinking water. So as those negotiations were going on,
there was a military general who was retired, he was from that area where the water source was. He was by all accounts respected by both sides, and as
he was leaving a meeting today. He was assassinated.
So a lot of people are speculating that this might be a setback as far as the cease-fire is concerned, but -- but, you know, it's going to see how --
the important thing is to see how this plays out in the coming days and what kind of retaliation the armed groups on the ground might face and
whether the government comes out very forcefully saying look, this assassination was clearly a violation of the cease-fire and, therefore, the
Syrian government is no longer bound by it. That's going to be the question.
ASHER: All right, Muhammad Lila live for us there. Thank you so much. Appreciate that.
The Syrian army recently recaptured the remaining rebel neighborhoods in the city of Aleppo. Thousands of civilians crossed over to neighborhoods
in the government-held parts of the city, others felt they had no choice, but to leave their city as part of an education deal.
Here's our senior international correspondent Arwa Damon with more.
ARWA DAMON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORREPSONDENT: For those behind the cameras every strike, every heartbreak, every rescue in Aleppo seared their
soul and their psyche. Raza (ph) was trapped under a collapsed building.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): This girl and I saw was she alive and screaming mom and dad. I started to cry. As a journalist, I wanted to
leave the camera and help, but I can't forget her even now.
DAMON: Sair (ph), and Mojahed had wanted to be the last to leave Aleppo.
[10:25:04] MOJAHED, CITIZEN JOURNALIST (through translator): When I saw this bus, like any besieged person, I felt disappointment because the
international community was able to perform a miracle, but this miracle was a crime.
The miracle was saving 300,000 people from death, but the crime was forcing them out of their homes.
DAMON: For the two close friends it would end up being the ordeal of trying to get here to Turkey that they say would prove to be the most
The pair had paid smugglers who took them dangerously close to regime territory, refused to
answer their questions, and taunted them.
MOJAHED (through translator): In this moment we thought of the worst possible options. They could hand us over to the regime. They could kill
us. They could sell our organs. They could traffic us. The last thing we thought could happen is that we would cross to Turkey safely.
DAMON: And when they got into Turkey, the smuggling ring tried to extort even more money.
THAER, CITIZEN JOURNALIST (through translator): When we entered Antakia (ph), the smuggler started messaging Mojahed and threatening him and saying
you think that have escaped. No, we will still get you.
DAMON: In their threadbare apartment, the two are constantly online, constantly following the news of Syria. For them, this is surreal.
MOJAHED (through translator): What is normal for me is if I look at a building I imagine that it is collapsed. I look at my room, I imagine it
DAMON: Before they smuggled here, they were able to briefly reunite with their families.
That moment when you saw your parents for the first time after years, what did you say to them?
MOJAHED (through translator): I told her this maybe the last time I see you. We are leaving and you are staying behind.
DAMON: It was not just a good-bye to their family, it was a good-bye to the city and country they love.
Arwa Damon, CNN, Gaziantep, Turkey.
ASHER: All right, live from New York, this is Connect the World. I am Zain Asher sitting in for Becky Anderson this hour. Up next, the
controversial leader of what was one of America's largest private defense contractors now has his own plans on solving Europe's migrant crisis.
Becky's special report puts Erik Prince in focus. That's next.
[10:32:05] ASHER: And you are now up to date on all of our top stories this hour. Of course, we are always taking you beyond the headlines here
on Connect the World as part of our new special series In Focus, Becky Anderson takes a special look at Erik Prince, the man who founded
Blackwater. Take a look.
BECKY ANDERSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Afghanistan, America's longest war, and Iraq, almost as enduring.
As Washington deployed troops to both countries more than 10 years ago Blackwater never seemed far behind. But the defense contractor's guards
seemed to play by a different rule book, making them wildly reviled as reckless and violent mercenaries.
PRINCE: I disagree with the assertion that they acted like cowboys.
ANDERSON: Their leader, former U.S. Navy SEAL Erik Prince, defended their reputation but his image was already chained to both wars, that has sent
millions running from their homes bursting into Europe's migrant crisis.
For now, Prince has his own ideas on solving that.
He doesn't want people plucked out of Mediterranean Sea. His blueprint in the Financial
Times has armed guards on patrol, surveillance planes, quick reaction forces, and medical evacuations with private contractors there every step
of the way.
When I put that to prince himself, though, he told me to back up.
Let me back you up, maybe we start again. I think that's an inaccurate characterization of the article.
ANDERSON: You tell me what you think is an accurate characterization.
PRINCE: So the way the European Union is trying to stop the refugee crisis now is with boats that pick up the refugees once they have got the water.
So these people that have paid a lot of money to be carried all the way across the Sohel (ph), across Libya, make it to the water, and now the
European Union just makes their transit that much safer and pick them up, and because of the law of the sea, if they pick up the refugees, now they
have to be taken to European landfall.
The answer it is to stop the refugee crisis at the southern border of Libya. Gadhafi built a lot of runways all over the country. So reopening
one of those runways and making it a border security base where Libyans are trained and equipped and lead, OK, the contractor or the foreign element,
comes in because they are basically the skeletal system that the body of a Libyan border police grows on.
We provide the leadership, communications, intelligence, medical and logistics support to that unit and they can stop the refugees. Because the
people are not walking. They have to drive. The distances -- I mean, Libya is the size of Alaska. So, they have to drive very easy for an ISR,
a simple surveillance aircraft, to find those vehicles, a helicopter to interdict
them from the air. That means stop and arrest. The refugees are then held at one of the refugee camps of the south and they can
be repatriated, but they don't get the ticket to Europe. That's how to stop the refugee crisis, because now the European navies are making the
most difficult parts of the passage, the easiest and the safest.
ANDRESON: Let me put this to you. This is, I would argue, or many would argue, a humanitarian crisis and/or catastrophe, not a security issue.
Give the reputation Blackwater had in Afghanistan and in Iraq, your reputation, do you risk creating a monster here in the Mediterranean and in
a country as you rightly point out that is as big as Alaska?
PRINCE: Well, in Afghanistan, for example, we built the Afghan border police and we trained
almost 15,000 Afghan Police to do their jobs, took them from no training to being able to patrol and communicate and to do their jobs well.
I would say one of the highest honors was that -- members from that unit were highly sought by U.S. or NATO units to patrol with them, because the
men were switched on, they were disciplined with their tactics, techniques and procedures.
So if you replicate that in Libya, yes, you'd have contractors there or professionals or if the Europeans want to sent their personnel into
southern Libya, that becomes more a political issue. So, the contractor, or whoever the professional is that trains the locals is building local
capacity. This is going to be solved by Libyans in the south of Libya, not by European navies on the Mediterranean.
ANDERSON: Mr. Prince, given the legacy of the work that Blackwater did in Iraq and in Afghanistan and the issues that were fleshed out by some of
those involved with the company, do you have any regrets about the work there?
PRINCE: sure. I have great regrets for ever going to work for the State Department. We did us exactly the mission they asked us to do. We did
more than 100,000 missions. No one under our care was ever killed or injured, and the men used their firearms in less than .5 of 1 percent of
all those missions while doing the most dangerous personal security detailed missions in the world. 41 of our men were killed in action. I
regret ever working for the State Department, because they were just not worth it for the men that were killed or injured doing their job.
ANDERSON: It wasn't the way we conducted the mission, though.
PRINCE: We did it exactly the way they told us to, exactly the rules of engagement, exactly per their 1,000-page contracts that we bid on and won
ANDERSON: You wrote proudly about your work in Afghanistan, asserting it proves that governments can depend on you, but listen to this American
SEN. CARL LEVIN, (D) MICHIGAN: As to Blackwater Paravan, their personnel engaged in reckless use of weapons. They violated the commands rules
regarding to obtaining and carrying weapons.
ANDERSON: In Libya, you're going to find a very big mess in what is essentially a total political vacuum. Has does your new plan, how is it
informed by the lessons that you've learned from the past?
PRINCE: Certainly, you know, when you employ people, some people make mistakes just like we used to employ turbine engines. And a turbine engine
only has two moving parts, and they break as well. So if you employed thousands of people, some people make mistakes just like you can read
inspector-general reports from the Marine Corps, or the Army or NATO or all the rest. When you employ thousands of people in a difficult place, some
people do stupid things and they should be accountable for that.
However, the situation that remains there in Libya is one of total chaos where you have 6 million people largely afraid to go out of their homes or
struggling to survive while it serves as a conduit for refugee flow coming out of Africa, out of everywhere else approaching the shores of
Europe. So how are you going to stop that flow?
I wrote that op-ed as a way to say this is not a logistics issue, this is very possible, and I spelled out how to do it. It's a matter of political
I don't see the European countries being able to or wanting to send any capability to solve that flow, and a spontaneous order is not suddenly
going to spring up from Libya without some help.
ANDERSON: You've reportedly groused that Barack Obama crushed your business, whereas I can only imagine that you think that America's next
president Mr. Donald Trump would do the opposite and yourself a like you, billionaire businessman. Will Trump be good for your fortunes? What are
you expecting out of him?
PRINCE: That me clarify that misconception. I'm far from a billionaire.
Look, I think the next administration -- the United States has spent $9 trillion on defense since 9/11, and there's more places on fire around the
world than ever before. I think the Pentagon has proven how -- how to wage war in the most expensive way possible. So I, as a taxpayer, would like
some fiduciary responsibility for the next administration to say how do we do this cheaper, better
and faster, letting the private sector compete in providing that benchmark is essential.
So, I mean, look, the company I'm running right now, Frontier Service Group, it's not Blackwater at all. None of our men are armed. We do
logistics. We deliver groceries, including frozen groceries, from Capetown and Durbin all the way up to the Democratic
Republic of Congo. We do aviation out of Malta. And we're the biggest Medevac provider for the UN. So our planes fly in and pull out UN
peacekeepers, it is not a defense contractor at all, we are a logistics contractor. But we do it in the most difficult and interesting and
[10:40:46] ANDERSON: Just briefly, is Libya an opportunity for a very quick win for a new Trump administration? And are you aware that this is a
priority in his new foreign policy file?
PRINCE: I am not aware that it is a priority, but, yes, I think with some smart diplomacy, a -- a unifying leader can be brought in, and I think by
and large Libyan people are tired of war. They have been at this for five years. The country is in bad shape and it should be -- it should be a
quick win from the Trump administration.
ASHER: That was my colleague Becky Anderson bringing you a special report as part of the Connect the World's new series In Focus.
And the Connect the World team and Abu Dhabi is always looking for many more stories than can actually be fitted into the show. To check out other
things we are following, just go straight to our Facebook page. You can go straight to Facebook.com/CNNConnect. You can find lots of stories that
Becky is following. And you can also get in touch with me directly on Twitter. There's my profile, @zainasher. It always puts a smile on my
face to hear from you guys.
And I am Zain Asher. Thank you so much for being with us. That was Connect the World. Appreciate you watching. Have a great Sunday.