Mehdi Hasan: Erik Prince, thank you for joining me on Head to Head.

Erik Prince: Thanks for having me.

Mehdi Hasan: You're back in the news with a new plan to privatise, basically, the US-led war in Afghanistan. But you were the founder, and CEO of Blackwater, perhaps the world's most notorious private security firm, which, during the Iraq War, became a byword for violence, corruption, lawlessness and yet you've never apologised for any of it.

Erik Prince: I think that's an unfair characterisation. The company did exactly what the US government asked us to do, which was to protect diplomats, reconstruction officials, visiting UN or, other congressional delegations. We did more than 100,000 missions, no one under our care was ever killed or injured, and people try to characterise the company as overly aggressive. Less than one half of one percent of all those missions resulted in the discharge of a firearm. In an era when you had lots of violence in the capital. I mean, Baghdad really was the centre of gravity of the insurgency, and so, we had, you know, 41 of our men were lost in action doing that mission.

Mehdi Hasan: So, you mention there that the US government asked you to do a job and you did it. You mention that you lost men on your watch. What you didn't mention is that you also killed a lot of people. You say, what, you know percentages is great, let's talk about individual cases. In 2005, Blackwater guards fired 70 rounds into an Iraqi civilian's car, forcing the State Department to investigate. In 2006, according to leaked Pentagon documents, Blackwater guards fired indiscriminately at Iraqi civilians, killing among others an ambulance driver. In 2007, Blackwater guards shot and killed 14 Iraqi civilians in what's been called the Nisour Square Massacre, or Baghdad's Bloody Sunday. That is the record that a lot of people around the world remember when they hear the name Blackwater.

Erik Prince: Sure, and when you do 100,000 missions, it's easy to take some things out of context. But remember, you had many thousands of insurgents actively trying to kill Americans, and not just American servicemen, but the most newsworthy Americans there: diplomats. And when the State Department asks you to drive them -

Mehdi Hasan: But the people I'm mentioning weren't insurgents. You killed, Nisour Square, your men killed a mother and son on their way to an appointment. A doctor and her son. They killed a nine-year-old boy, shot him in the head.

Erik Prince: Sadly, the insurgents don't wear uniforms. They would drive ambulances filled with explosives. They would drive -

Mehdi Hasan: So, your men thought they were shooting at insurgents?

Erik Prince: A car bomb doesn't give you much time to decide.

Mehdi Hasan: There was no car bomb at Nisour Square in 2007.

Erik Prince: Actually, right before Nisour Square event, there was.

Mehdi Hasan: Not at Nisour Square, there was no car bomb.

Erik Prince: Excuse me, less than five minutes before that event happened, there was a large car bomb that went off where there was a protective team of ours, protecting a USAID official. And sadly, that car bomb went off, the team decided to move through there and a support team went to block the traffic circle so that the fleeing team could move through smoothly and not be ambushed.

Erik Prince: When the intelligence provided by the State Department, the US government says be on the lookout for a white Kia, OK? And all the other cars in the traffic circle stop, except for a white Kia, sadly, sometimes the guys have a split second to make that decision.

Mehdi Hasan: Of course, and Blackwater say the white Kia stopped, as you well know, cause you've discussed this far more than I have. All of the eyewitnesses there say that there was no white Kia heading towards you. The US colonel who turned up on the day said that there was no enemy activity involved, he said it was a criminal event and an excessive shooting. A US court of law, in December, prosecuted one of your men for first-degree murder. For killing Ahmed Al Rubia'y and his mother at Nisour Square. There's three other, hold on, let me finish. Three other men were prosecuted for manslaughter. Four of your men murder and manslaughter, in not Iraqi courts, US courts.

Erik Prince: That's right and they prosecuted them four times and they finally got a conviction. The first time, it was thrown out for prosecutorial misconduct.

Mehdi Hasan: Guilty. They found them guilty.

Erik Prince: No, no, the first time it was thrown out for prosecutorial misconduct, the second time it was overturned, the third time it was a mistrial. The federal government finally got them, in a DC jury on the fourth time they tried.

Erik Prince: Is a DC jury not a legitimate jury?

Erik Prince: I would say, a jury of your peers does not really compare to the rest of America. No, that's a, that's -

Mehdi Hasan: Oh, okay. Okay so some juries are legitimate, some not. Like so-called "judges". I've heard that language before. But they were prosecuted for murder and manslaughter, do you have any regrets for the people who died? A nine-year-old boy shot in the head? Wasn't an insurgent?

Erik Prince: Of course, we did, of course. We hired, as a company, we hired the prosecutor that prosecuted Saddam to go find each of these families, to pay solatia, to make amends as best as possible.

Mehdi Hasan: Did you ever reach out to them?

Erik Prince: Did I personally?

Mehdi Hasan: Yeah.

Erik Prince: I haven't found, no, I haven't found all of them. But we certainly apologised to the ones I've had contact with.

Mehdi Hasan: And it's not just these killings, and the, these killings that are documented. It goes beyond just guards, as you know. Blackwater got billions of dollars in US government contracts.

Erik Prince: Not billions.

Mehdi Hasan: More than a billion dollars in US government contracts, during that period.

Erik Prince: Yeah, over 12 years.

Mehdi Hasan: And yet a scathing US State Department investigation found that Blackwater, quote, was over-billing the State Department and manipulating personnel records. Its guards were partying, drinking, and even crashed an armoured car and saw themselves as, quote, above the law. Pretty damning, the US State Department is saying this, about the, a company they're giving contracts to.

Erik Prince: Um.

Mehdi Hasan: Over-billing and manipulating.

Erik Prince: We never paid any fines for anything like that. And that's a fact.

Mehdi Hasan: You paid fines for a lot of things.

Erik Prince: The only thing we paid a fine for, was an ITAR violation. I'll give you an example.

Mehdi Hasan: The only, sorry, did you say the only thing you paid a fine for? You paid $7.5m fine in 2012 to settle 17 criminal charges. You paid a $42m settlement.

Erik Prince: Sorry.

Mehdi Hasan: To the State Department in 2010 for illegal arms sales.

Erik Prince: 2012, I'd already sold the business. I sold it in 2010.

Mehdi Hasan: But the, but the cases go back beyond 2010. The criminal charges raised all sorts of things that went back years, including South Sudan. You broke US sanctions to try and sell weapons to South Sudan.

Erik Prince: No.

Mehdi Hasan: Going against -

Erik Prince: There's no weapons in South Sudan.

Mehdi Hasan: There was a proposal on the table -

Erik Prince: No.

Mehdi Hasan: You never put a proposal on the table to Salva Kiir's government? Worth $100m?

Erik Prince: Actually, the issue there was a satellite phone.

Mehdi Hasan: So, you did put a proposal on the table to Salva Kiir's government?

Erik Prince: No, no, what the State Department complained about then, that was back in, 2005.

Mehdi Hasan: Okay. My point is -

Erik Prince: An actual, a very dangerous satellite phone, the same thing you can buy in Heathrow duty-free.

Mehdi Hasan: Okay, we can argue about the fines. Let's just deal with this report. The US State Department said you were manipulating personnel records, over-billing the State Department and your guards were partying, drinking and even crashed an armoured car. That was a State Department investigation, in 2007.

Erik Prince: Look, we employed thousands of people. And I would never say that the men were perfect. We didn't employ angels, we employed veterans, who volunteered to serve their country again in a very dangerous place. And like I said, 41 of them paid the ultimate cost. And hundreds more were seriously wounded.

Mehdi Hasan: It's a problem when you say, "We didn't employ angels, we employed veterans." But right now, you wanna do it all again. That's the problem. Is it not?

Erik Prince: Well, here's the thing after, after 17 years of war, OK, where the United States is spending more than the entire UK budget, defence budget, just this year and still losing in Afghanistan. I think it's time to look at a different way.

Mehdi Hasan: So, I want to talk about Afghanistan, but just before we get to your Afghan plan, I just want to get to what drives you? When you kind of, come up with these plans to do private security, especially in a lot of these Muslim-majority countries. Because you yourself have referred to the people your men were fighting in Iraq as barbarians who crawled out of the sewer. You say in your memoir, these were the chanting barbarians American troops had been sent to liberate?

Erik Prince: Sure. If you, if, people that thinks it's okay to drive a car bomb into the middle of a square into the middle of a market place, while, to attempt to kill an American in, in, and in doing so they kill dozens and dozens of civilians, absolutely that's barbaric.

Mehdi Hasan: Which is true; I think if you're referring to terrorists, you call them whatever you want. But you said, these were the chanting barbarians American troops had been sent to liberate? You weren't sent to liberate terrorists? It sounds like you're talking about Iraqis.

Erik Prince: Look, the -

Mehdi Hasan: It's from your words, from your memoir.

Erik Prince: The decision - the decision of Iraq -

[APPLAUSE]

Erik Prince: The US decision to go to liberate Iraq from Saddam Hussein, who did a lot more horrid things than we can even speak of here. That was certainly the intent. I certainly had no role in that policy decision.

Mehdi Hasan: OK, but you don't refer to, you don't believe Iraqis are barbarians, obviously?

Erik Prince: No, but I believe that terrorists that, that crank off car bombs in a city square certainly are.

Mehdi Hasan: OK. You're proposing now to privatise the US-led war in Afghanistan. You've suggested replacing almost 50,000 NATO troops and private contractors with 2,000 US special operators and 6,000 contractors, and you want to cut spending there, you think, by $30bn a year, which sounds great, and I think you and I, one thing we can definitely agree on is we both think the Afghan War is not going well and has been a bit of a failure. But given 140,000 NATO troops couldn't control that country, or defeat the Taliban back in 2011, what on earth makes you think, that a few thousand contractors are gonna do it now, under your command?

Erik Prince: Because after 9/11, I'll take you back. In the five days after 9/11 happened, when President Bush had a war cabinet meeting up at Camp David, the Pentagon, the best thing that the most expensive military in the world came with, was some missile and some bombing strikes and then a conventional invasion via Pakistan the following April. Okay? So, literally, while the headquarters of the Pentagon is still smouldering, the best the US military came with, was the most conventional and most cumbersome approach. It was the CIA that said, money, authorities, the right people, will get after the Taliban. And that worked, OK? Less than a hundred special operators: CIA case officers, paramilitary guys, and SF guys - backed by air power - and they smashed the Taliban in a matter of weeks.

Mehdi Hasan: They toppled them. But that's fine, you topple them. But controlling a country requires more than 6,000 people, surely.

Erik Prince: Correct, but then, the United States repeated the Soviet battle plan.

Mehdi Hasan: OK.

Erik Prince: So it's, I'm not advocating -

Mehdi Hasan: But what is your battle plan, that 6,000 people can do what a 140,000 couldn't? I'm not an expert on maths, but that seems weird?

Erik Prince: Well, here's the thing. You have 15,000 US troops there now. There's about 7,000 NATO and another 30,000 contractors. So, I'm not advocating a privatisation, I'm advocating a rationalisation at a significant cost savings. The way the US has been deploying there, they send a unit for, seven or eight months. They spend the first two or three months getting to know the area, and then a couple of months they're very productive, and the last month they're ready to pack up and they lift and shift and they go home. OK? And then you rinse and repeat and you do that again, and we've done 30 plus rotations of troops like that. And so you have no continuity. Instead, I would take the same special forces veterans that have been working here, from the US, from NATO -

Mehdi Hasan: The guys you say are not angels?

Erik Prince: These are the same people, the US military and NATO has been spending, sending there for the last 17 years. But the difference is, as a contractor, they can go unattached to the same unit and live in the same valley and live and work and train and fight with those guys, with the Afghan counterparts, month after month for years so they have that continuity.

Mehdi Hasan: Isn't the problem -

Erik Prince: Second -

Mehdi Hasan: The Afghan government, they don't like your plan. They say it's a non-starter. They say, under no circumstances, will we allow the war to become a, quote, private for-profit business. The former Afghan president, Hamid Karzai, said he vehemently opposes your proposal. It's a non-starter.

Erik Prince: I think he would say differently if you asked him now.

Mehdi Hasan: I literally asked his office on Friday and they said they're dead against it.

Erik Prince: Well I've talked to other people -

[APPLAUSE]

Erik Prince: I've talked to other people in his office who disagree with that.

Mehdi Hasan: Okay. The current Afghan government, have they changed their position as well? They said in October, under no circumstances.

Erik Prince: I doubt very much that Ashraf Ghani will win in the next election.

Mehdi Hasan: Oh, so you're waiting for a change of president to get your plan signed off?

Erik Prince: Look, here's the thing. If they don't do a plan like this, if there is not a skeletal structure support, supporting the Afghan forces, the next president's gonna wind up like Najibullah did.

Mehdi Hasan: The problem is, the way you pitched it is, do you think it was helpful to tell the Afghans we're gonna be like, quote, the East India Company. Which violently ruled India on behalf of the British Empire in the 18th and 19th centuries? Was it wise to talk about having a viceroy, in charge of the country? I mean, you're not hiding the fact that this is a colonialist project, when you use language like that?

Erik Prince: Sure. But here's the thing. The United States has no one person that's in charge of Afghan policy. There's nobody that the president can turn to and say, why is Afghanistan, after this -

Mehdi Hasan: He has a special envoy Zalmay Khalilzad. 

Erik Prince: Yeah sure, that, that doesn't help. He doesn't control the military, he doesn't control the intelligence funding, he doesn't control policy -

Mehdi Hasan: Even if I agree with that, do you think calling someone a viceroy in charge of an East India Company is gonna go down well with brown folks?

Erik Prince: Look, for 250 years, that security model largely worked, of mostly local forces with a few professional mentors, only acting as a skeletal structure support. But the difference is, I'm not there as a colonial power, these, these mentors, right, the contractors, the special forces veterans, are serving as adjuncts in the Afghan forces, accountable to the Afghan minister of defence and of course, the president. If they're flying aircraft, we actually found two-seat aircraft, where the contractor never makes the weapons release decision, it is always the Afghan.

Mehdi Hasan: But he flies the plane?

Erik Prince: Safety pilot, sure.

Mehdi Hasan: OK. In 2004, in Afghanistan, a Blackwater pilot flying a plane, with US soldiers on board, flew the plane into the side of a mountain. He crashed the plane into the mountain, killing six passengers on board, including three US soldiers. The captain's last words, this Blackwater employee flying the plane, his last words were "I swear to God, they wouldn't pay me if they knew how much fun this was." You were paying him, Erik Prince. He'd only been in the country two weeks. Have you or your employees learned any lessons from that horrific incident before you go back into Afghanistan?

Erik Prince: Sure, we operated 56 aircraft there, safely for many, many years. We flew tens of thousands of missions safely. The difficult thing is, when the DoD, your customer asks you, or tasks you to change your route so that the colonel on board could go view an enemy area, on the way to, as a deviation from the planned navigation, accidents happen. That's right. It's a dangerous place.

Mehdi Hasan: And yet the National Transportation Safety Board, and the US military both said, that Blackwater provided insufficient oversight and guidance to the pilots involved in the crash. The widow of that colonel says that there was gross lack of judgement in managing this company. Who was managing the company at that time in 2004, had you sold it then?

Erik Prince: The former operations officer of, the former operations officer of TF160, the most elite helicopter unit in the world. So yeah, people that definitely understand aviation were in charge.

Mehdi Hasan: And yet the US military and the National Transportation Safety Board criticised your company's role in that accident.

Erik Prince: And they reinstated us and we were flying missions again within five days of that incident. 'Cause they needed us.

Mehdi Hasan: Great, good job, Bush administration. That's got nothing to do with the culpability, that your company had for the deaths of those US soldiers. They didn't die at the hands of the Taliban, they died at the hands of Blackwater.

Erik Prince: They died at the hands of an accident, made by a pilot flying in a very difficult area.

Mehdi Hasan: I mean, Blackwater executives were emailing each other at the time. The email came out, it said, by necessity, the initial group hired to support the Afghanistan operation did not meet the criteria identified in email traffic and had some background and experience shortfalls overlooked in favour of getting the requisite number of personnel on board to start up the contract. You're saying it internally, your own company's admitting to each other, these guys aren't experienced but we need to get the contract up and running. Is this what you want to replicate in Afghanistan now?

Erik Prince: The pilots flying the mission that day, had come from Alaska, they were, they were literally high-country bush pilots. These are not people that are flying in the, over the swamps of Florida. They were flying over the mountains.

Mehdi Hasan: Why are your executives emailing each other saying that we have experience shortfalls, but we need to get the contract up and running? Why were they saying that?

Erik Prince: Because the transportation, because the Army Materiel Command was demanding the missions to support the missions. Here's the thing -

Mehdi Hasan: It's the army's fault?

Erik Prince: No, no. No, no. Trying to serve a customer in a very difficult place. We flew tens of thousands in, hundreds of thousands of missions after that, safely and no incidents.

Mehdi Hasan: Okay. Let's go to our panel, here in the Oxford Union. Sean McFate is a former private military contractor, former officer in the US Army, a professor at Georgetown, author of the book, The New Rules of War. Sean, you've said that US generals have laughed at Erik's plan for Afghanistan. You've called it unworkable and even magical thinking. Why?

Sean McFate: Blackwater - if this was a job interview and mercenary-to-mercenary - I would not give you the contract, because Blackwater was simply a bodyguard shop in Iraq. You've never raised or deployed a military like you're advertising now. I have in places and it takes a, it's a lot more sophisticated than just mentors in the field. It does require opted political leadership in Kabul, and they've already messaged that they don't support this. This is a dead deal, in my opinion.

Erik Prince: Well, on that you're mistaken, because we've built the entire Afghan border police, there was 15,000 people. We did all the recruiting, the training, the vetting and we actually had mentors that went in the field with them. And the success rate of those units when our guys were allowed to go with them, effectively as training wheels, their success rate went very, very high and it worked. So, you know, I guess I'm the only guy that can say I've had 56 of my own aircraft in country doing that kind of work for the US military.

Mehdi Hasan: Okay. Ghaith Abdul-Ahad is an award-winning Guardian journalist from Iraq. You've covered conflicts in Iraq, Afghanistan, Yemen and beyond. Ghaith, how do the Iraq people remember Blackwater and Erik Prince in your view?

Ghaith Abdul-Ahad: I mean, it's amazing to kind of sit here and listen to Erik kind of speak about Blackwater and the services they did in Iraq, because the word "Blackwater" is synonymous with the worst of the American occupation of Iraq. There is not a single Iraqi that I know - I mean, I'm one of those barbarians that was liberated by your country. But there is not a single Iraqi who would, you just mention the word "Blackwater" to, who would not say corruption, violence and I'm not talking only about the Nisour Square kind of massacre, but I'm talking about the whole 10 years of the existence of these mercenaries. And I think part of the failure of the American project in Iraq was due to the using of the contractors.

Mehdi Hasan: Isn't that a major problem that you could concede, that even if your plan is a good one, you shouldn't be the one doing it given the legacy you've left behind, would -

Erik Prince: Here's the thing, your math is a little skewed, because the US didn't invade Iraq until 2003 and I sold the company in 2010, so that's certainly not 10 years. The company tracked -

Ghaith Abdul-Ahad: I apologise, seven years, seven years.

Erik Prince: We tracked all the vehicles, where everybody was moving, OK? And there was dozens and dozens of times that it was brought up there was a Blackwater event here, Blackwater event here. And we didn't have people within 200km of that location. The sad thing is, Blackwater became like Kleenex, it became the -

Ghaith Abdul-Ahad: Do you know why? Do you know why? Because you became this -

Erik Prince: Because we were the largest one, doing very, very high-profile missions.

Ghaith Abdul-Ahad: No, because you were the worst, that's the reason. I mean, you gave, I mean in Iraq now or in Yemen and any of these places, they don't use the word "contractor" something, they use "Blackwater" in Yemen, in wherever, in Somalia. They don't use "mercenaries" or "contractors".

Mehdi Hasan: Ghaith, you've been in Afghanistan recently as well, I believe, from your reporting. Do you think Afghans will welcome this plan that Erik is putting on the table?

Ghaith Abdul-Ahad: I've met administration officials, high-security officials of the current Afghan administrations, opposition and some of your own friends in Afghanistan. And all agree on one thing: it's not going to work. I agree with you totally that 17 years have been total waste, they followed the, you know, copied the Soviet work plan. This is something we agree on. However, you're not meeting government officials, you're not talking to the administration - you're talking to warlords.

Erik Prince: Okay, you're mistaken. I meet with dozens of Afghan officials both in and out of the government, all over the country, be they -

Ghaith Abdul-Ahad: And warlords.

Erik Prince: - Tajik, Uzbek, Hazara and Pashtun.

Ghaith Abdul-Ahad: And the warlords, right?

Erik Prince: All the people that are going to be voting in the Afghan elections.

Ghaith Abdul-Ahad: So, what the - 

Mehdi Hasan: OK, we're going to move on because we've got one more, one more on our panel who needs to come in. Colonel Tim Collins is here. Tim, you once commanded British troops during Iraq, you gave that famous speech that a lot of us remember. In 2004, you quit the army and founded New Century, a private military consultant company. How would you evaluate what happened on Blackwater's watch?

Tim Collins: Well, so it's a whole different thing. I think what we have to remember, and indeed, I've discussed this with, many times with Erik, the US State Department, the US military, asked for services - they encouraged, they were enthusiastic to a point of hysteria that Blackwater go and do these missions. When it went wrong, they ran a mile. And so, you have to look at those people and say, at a point where there was, chairmen of the joint chiefs of staff were visiting the facility and encouraging more and more of these services to be privatised and led out, and when things went wrong they turned their back on it.

Mehdi Hasan: Are you saying that Erik Prince and Blackwater were scapegoated by the US government?

Tim Collins: Well, I think that as a result of the rather expensive court case that you've been through, I think that was the conclusion in the end, is that, the criticism I as a contractor would level, is that Blackwater and the organisation probably grew too fast. There was people who went initially who were of the highest, Delta Force, SEAL Team 6, Taskforce 160. Some of the people who were coming in at the end had nowhere near that. And it's a question of who's supervising that? Because the people when we look at them who were in court and convicted were not of that quality, were not of that - how did they get there?

Mehdi Hasan: How did they get there? Why were you hiring poor quality people towards the end of your period in Iraq?

Erik Prince: Well, because there's literally not enough Delta Force or SEAL Team 6 or even SEALS for that matter to do that mission. You go to Marine infantry or Army infantry. The one fair characterisation that I will say is Blackwater did two types of missions. We worked for the State Department, they dictated, "You must drive a polished, waxed Suburban," okay, big SUV, "Armoured, 11,000 pounds, lights and sirens down the road." And when you drive the same route every day, that the State Department tells you to, it's very easy for the enemy to set up an ambush.

Mehdi Hasan: You keep saying engagement ambushes, just to be clear for the audience, one study found that you, Blackwater opened fire first in 84 percent of the shootings.

Erik Prince: Sure.

Mehdi Hasan: It wasn't defensive, you fired first.

Erik Prince: Because when it - OK. But it's not just a matter of the enemy opening fire with a firearm to attack, they open fire with a trigger switch when they drive up to you and destroy you. I mean, literally, you should see the -

Mehdi Hasan: But there's also ambulance drivers, nine-year-old children, doctors on their way to work.

Erik Prince: You should see the, you should the pictures, whether it's Hamas in Palestine, in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iraq, bad guys load ambulances with explosives and kill innocent people.

Mehdi Hasan: But not in the cases I cited. We're going to take a break. In part two, we're going to talk to Erik Prince about some of his work in China and his relationship with the Trump administration. And we're going to hear from our very patient audience here in the Oxford Union. Join us for part two.

PART II

Mehdi Hasan: Welcome back. You're watching Head to Head on Al Jazeera English. My guest today is Erik Prince, the founder and former CEO of Blackwater, also, a big supporter of and donor to President Donald Trump. Erik, I want to talk to you about your relationship with President Trump in a moment. But before I do, just very briefly, you're currently executive deputy chairman of Frontier Services Group, FSG, a Hong Kong-based security and logistics firm, that you founded. Why is FSG opening a training centre for security guards in, of all places, Xinjiang Province in China, where up to a million Muslim Wigans are being held in, basically, concentration camps right now?

Erik Prince: There is a lot of misreporting on that. The company is not opening any training facility up there, that was actually discussed at a board meeting. The reporting got it wrong, the only, there was a, some kind of memorandum assigned for construction services, not training. The company doesn't do any training of any police or security forces inside China at all.

Mehdi Hasan: But why did it say that last year? Why did your company say it was establishing training facilities?

Erik Prince: It was, it signed an MOU for constructions services.

Mehdi Hasan: They put out a press release, March the 2nd, with your name on it.

Erik Prince: For a construction - not my name. It was for construction services.

Mehdi Hasan: No, your name's on the press release, your name's on the press release several times and it says, I've got the press release, quote here, "Xinjiang China, establishing training facilities and buying security equipment and vehicles."

Erik Prince: Again, it was for construction services that -

Mehdi Hasan: It says training facilities.

Erik Prince: If you look at the actual translation from Mandarin to English it was for construction services, OK? The only -

Mehdi Hasan: Sorry, sorry, sorry, we didn't translate it, this is your company's English press release, with respect.

Erik Prince: The only, the only training services -

[APPLAUSE]

Erik Prince: The only training services the company does is for people like Bank of China employees or China Airlines employees, because they travel the world and they go to dangerous places inside of -

Mehdi Hasan: So, you are training people in Xinjiang?

Erik Prince: No.

Mehdi Hasan: So, the press release was wrong?

Erik Prince: There is - the company has zero footprint in Xinjiang, China.

Mehdi Hasan: So, it's not establishing the training facility it said it was establishing on March the 2nd 2018 in an English language press release.

Erik Prince: The board has discussed this twice and there is not one dollar or RMB allocated for anything like that.

Mehdi Hasan: Okay, and you've got nothing to do with what's going on with the Uighur Muslims in Xinjiang?

Erik Prince: Zero.

Mehdi Hasan: Okay, but you do have a lot to do with the Chinese government. So, for someone who sees themselves as a great American patriot, veteran, ex-navy SEAL, "America First", a Donald Trump supporter, isn't it odd that you do so much security business with the Chinese government, which is seen by many, including by President Trump, as a major geopolitical adversary of the United States? Isn't that weird? Isn't that a conflict?

Erik Prince: Well again, the company doesn't do any security per se, it does some training for people to avoid being a victim of a terror, of a terrorism incident. There is no Blackwater, I'm sorry, no FSG -

Mehdi Hasan: You sold Blackwater.

Erik Prince: You're right. There is no FSG employee that's armed, doing that kind of security.

Mehdi Hasan: But you are working in China, you're Hong Kong-based. The majority of your share, the majority of your company is Chinese owned, is it not?

Erik Prince: It's, well, it's retail investors, everything from mutual funds, and -

Mehdi Hasan: It's majority Chinese owned, yes or no?

Erik Prince: I don't know if it's majority, but there's a lot of Chinese ownership, sure.

Mehdi Hasan: How much? It's your company, you're the executive deputy chairman.

Erik Prince: It's, you should know, it's publicly listed and it's all publicly disclosed.

Mehdi Hasan: So, tell us.

Erik Prince: The fact is the company does grocery delivery, trucking all through southern Africa, we do medevac, we're the biggest medevac provider for the UN.

Mehdi Hasan: But there's no conflict between working for the Chinese and working for the US, as you want to do now in Afghanistan? You don't think there's a conflict there as an America patriot ex-veteran?

Erik Prince: Look, America is a big trading partner of China and helping China connect it's logistics lines for better trade. I think countries that trade together tend to not fight together, or fight against each other.

Mehdi Hasan: Sean McFate is a former private military contractor, a former officer in the US Army, professor at Georgetown University, author of the book The New Rules of War. Sean, is there a conflict of interest here? Is there a concern, do you think, in Washington, DC, where you're based? Is it a problem?

Sean McFate: Yes, there's a big interest. So, last year, the national defence strategy, which is the Pentagon strategy for the world, shifted, the first time in years, away from counterterrorism, counterinsurgency into the threats of Russia and China. And we all know that China uses its economic instruments of power to, you know, to - look what they did to Sri Lanka, they took over a port as if they were a mafia don. So, it's not just economic trade, there's also a darker aspect to it. And many in Washington see you as one of their sort of weapons of war.

Mehdi Hasan: Are you, are you a Chinese weapon of war?

Erik Prince: Absolutely not. And because we're not doing any kind of training building their tactical security capabilities.

Mehdi Hasan: What about the leverage that Sean made a point about? The economic leverage.

Erik Prince: Well, the, the fact is, what does the company do now? It does trucking and transportation from Southern Africa, OK? You can deliver groceries from Cape Town, all the way up to the DRC. We medevac, we fly people all over the continent and we do significant air operations out of Malta. Supporting, hopefully, oil operations in countries like Iraq or Pakistan or the hydro dams. Look, countries around the world, China shows up with a lot of money and a lot of people to do infrastructure projects. The Russians are showing up with muscle and weapons. And the United States has largely missed the boat. The one positive change that Trump administration's made is the law changed last October for OPIC, the Overseas Private Investment Corporation, the only part of the US government that actually makes money. And now they've shifted a huge budget away from the State Department to OPIC, so that it is managed and it allows more investment into these countries.

Mehdi Hasan: They've also launched a trade war with China, which might put you in two different camps at the same time. Let me ask Colonel Tim Collins this question, he's here. You're a famous officer in the British Army, now you're chairman of your own private security consultancy, New Century. How do you respond to critics who say when you run these private for-profit companies you're only loyal to yourselves or to your bottom lines, you're not loyal to a national government. And that's a problem, that's, that makes you conflicted. What's your response to people who say that?

Tim Collins: Well, at the end of the day there's a thing called "international law" and nobody does anything outside. And if they do then they, they must be held accountable. The difficulty is the only people who will subject to and allow themselves to be regulated are the good guys. There are mercenary activity all over the world, the reality is that many people innocently in this room don't realise that many governments in the world, particularly in Pakistan, India, Iran, Middle East, maintain people who they pay and deploy as contractors and these are people who are committing atrocities. They won't be regulated.

Mehdi Hasan: Okay, so let me put that point - very briefly, Sean, very briefly, what's your response to the point about regulation? Do you think companies like Erik's are as regulated as they should be?

Sean McFate: Well, I'm a little bit more sceptical about the power of international law in general about mercenaries. Because the thing about, you know, who's going to go into Yemen and arrest all those mercenaries? The UN? And if so, the mercenaries can shoot back, right? They can kill your law enforcement. And I'm not suggesting that Erik's, that would be Erik's plan. But Erik is part of a broader trend of the rise of mercenaries, where does this end? You know, private wars, wars without states - and what if the US partakes in this?

Mehdi Hasan: Erik, let me ask you this, you're a big supporter of Donald Trump. You've been questioned by Special Counsel Robert Mueller over the Russiagate investigation. He's looked at your laptop and your phones, I believe. You've also testified to Congress. In November 2017, you told Congress under oath that you played, quote, "No official or really unofficial role in the Trump campaign." What you didn't tell Congress is that on August 3rd, 2016, you were at a meeting during the campaign at Trump Tower with Don Junior, Trump's son, with Stephen Miller, than a campaign advisor to Trump, with George Nader, a former Blackwater colleague of yours who acts as a back channel to the Saudis, the Emiratis. He also happens to be a convicted paedophile. And also Joel Zamel, an Israel expert on social media manipulation. How come you didn't mention that meeting to Congress, given it's so relevant to their investigation?

Erik Prince: I did as part of the investigations. I certainly disclosed any meetings, the very, very few I had. 

Mehdi Hasan: Not in the congressional testimony you gave to the House. We went through it, you didn't mention anything about the August 2016 meeting in Trump Tower. They specifically asked you what contacts you have and you didn't answer that.

Erik Prince: I don't believe I was asked that question.

Mehdi Hasan: You were asked, "Were there any formal communications or contact with the campaign?" you said, "Apart from writing papers, putting up yard signs, no." That's what you said. I've got the transcript of the conversation here.

Erik Prince: Sure, I mean, I might have been, I think I was at Trump Headquarters or the campaign headquarters, maybe -

Mehdi Hasan: Trump Tower, August 3rd, 2016.

Erik Prince: Possible. 

Mehdi Hasan: You, an Israeli dude, a backchannel to the Emiratis and the Saudis, Don Junior, Stephen Miller.

Erik Prince: We were there, we were there to talk about Iran policy.

Mehdi Hasan: Oh, you were there to talk about Iran policy? 

Erik Prince: Mm-hmm.

Mehdi Hasan: Don't you think that's something important to disclose to the House Intelligence Committee while you're under oath?

Erik Prince: I did.

Mehdi Hasan: You didn't, we just went through the testimony, there's no mention of the Trump Tower meeting in August 2016. Why not?

Erik Prince: I don't know if they got the transcript wrong.

Mehdi Hasan: Oh, they got the transcript wrong? So, if we go -

Erik Prince: I don't know. I remember, certainly discussing it with the investigators.

Mehdi Hasan: I mean, this is a problem for you because we know that Robert Mueller, he hasn't been able to establish collusion yet, but he has got a lot of guys for lying to the authorities and not telling the whole truth. Is that a problem now? That, even if you accidentally didn't tell them, that could come back and haunt you?

Erik Prince: I fully cooperated and I haven't heard anybody, I haven't heard from anybody in more than nine months.

Mehdi Hasan: I mean, members of Congress after they discovered this meeting have talked about certain witnesses not telling the truth. But you believe you told Congress about this meeting, even though it's not in the transcript, just to be clear?

Erik Prince: I believe so, yeah.

Mehdi Hasan: OK. You had another meeting which they did talk to you about in the Seychelles on the 11th of January 2017, a week before Trump's inauguration where good old George Nader was there again on behalf of the Emiratis, as was top Russian oligarch Kiril Dmitriev, a close ally of Vladimir Putin's. The Emiratis saw that meeting as a way of creating a back channel between Putin's guy, Dmitriev and Trump's guy, you, didn't they?

Erik Prince: I don't think so. I was there to talk to the Emiratis about Somalia and some of the other problems that we'd helped with before.

Mehdi Hasan: Was it also about Iran?

Erik Prince: No.

Mehdi Hasan: And it was - so, how did you end up with a Russian oligarch who runs the Russian Direct Investment Fund and, and is seen by the Emirates as the messenger to Putin, they call him?

Erik Prince: Well, as I recall, the Emirates were investors in that fund and any fund manager tends to travel to where their LP, their investors needed them to be.

Mehdi Hasan: But what were you chatting about with the Russian dude?

Erik Prince: I talked about it in testimony and that's all I'm going to say.

Mehdi Hasan: But it was just a kind of accidental meeting?

Erik Prince: Yes.

Mehdi Hasan: Even though George Nader, your former colleague -

Erik Prince: Like I said, like I've said before, it lasted one beer, which doesn't take me very long.

Mehdi Hasan: So, you flew halfway around the world to a secret meeting in the Seychelles to have one beer with Vladimir Putin's messenger?

Erik Prince: No, no, no, no. I was there to see the Emirati leadership.

Mehdi Hasan: That's not what George Nader seems to be telling the Mueller folks right now. Does that worry you that Nader's contradicting your testimony, your former colleague?

Erik Prince: I think it's amazing for you to try to view into the Mueller testimony, that's mighty prescient of you.

Mehdi Hasan: I mean, OK, that's what's being reported, OK. I just want to bring in, you mentioned Iran interestingly enough, I just want to bring in very briefly before we move on, and I know the audience are waiting. Ghaith Abdul-Ahad is an award-winning Guardian journalist from Iraq. You've covered conflicts across the Middle East. When you hear about the Emiratis and Trump and the Saudis and the Israelis, what is that all about? I mean, Erik mentioned Iran, is this all about Iran?

Ghaith Abdul-Ahad: I mean, of course, we are living, kind of, people say it's a cold war, it's not a cold war any more between the Emiratis, Saudis, the Israelis, and the Iranians on the other side. And what the Emiratis are doing, for example, in Yemen, and I think you worked with Emiratis and you advised them at one point, they are actually implementing your Afghanistan plans. So, if you see the Emirati war in Yemen, it is tens of thousands of mercenaries, local hired forces with skeleton troops from the Emiratis, a war that is being fought so viciously with no accountability whatsoever, within the big arch of fighting the Iranians, who didn't exist in Yemen.

Mehdi Hasan: Have you advocated using private contractors to take on Iran to the Trump administration?

Erik Prince: No.

Mehdi Hasan: You have - people have accused you of advocating that in the past. You've talked about using private contractors to confront Iran?

Erik Prince: No.

Mehdi Hasan: No? 

Erik Prince: No. 

Mehdi Hasan: You see no role for a Blackwater/FSG in any relation to Iran?

Erik Prince: No.

Mehdi Hasan: OK. Just to check, before we go to the audience, I've got to ask one last question. You are part of a group of high-profile Trump supporters, including Steve Bannon, Sheriff David Clarke and others, who are planning on raising private money to build a wall along the US-Mexico border. You even have a GoFundMe page. What I don't get though is, I'm pretty sure I heard Donald Trump say that Mexico would be paying for the wall.

Erik Prince: Don't discount Mexico actually paying for the wall.

Mehdi Hasan: I think most of us have, but yes.

Erik Prince: More news on that. Look, there's a lot of places where it's federal land and, and a GoFundMe individual effort is not possible. But there's a lot of places where US ranchers or US landowners own land right up to the border. They're sick of their farms effectively being massive transit spots for drug and criminal activity. And so, they would welcome that - the guy who started that is a triple amputee, OK, military veteran who, who started it, and he's raised more than $20m. And the cost per -

Mehdi Hasan: Don't you feel foolish asking people for money when Trump told us more than 100 times, people have counted, that Mexico would pay for the wall? So, why do we need you and this guy and this GoFundMe page? 

Erik Prince: Because -

Mehdi Hasan: Unless Trump lied to all of us.

Erik Prince: Because I - again don't discount Mexico actually paying for part of the wall going forward. 

Mehdi Hasan: You think they'll pay for the wall?

Erik Prince: There are things that may happen that Mexico will end up paying. But in the meantime -

Mehdi Hasan: He didn't say part of the wall though, Erik, he didn't say, "Hey, Mexico's going to pay for part of the wall," he very explicitly said, "Mexico will pay for the wall."

Erik Prince: The last chapter's not written on that, mark my words.

Mehdi Hasan: So, Mexico will pay for the wall, so then why are you fundraising?

Erik Prince: Uh -

Mehdi Hasan: You can't have it both ways, "Mexico will pay for the wall but I'm going to raise money," which one?

Erik Prince: There are - because people are frustrated, they're sick of not having -

Mehdi Hasan: They're frustrated that the president can't get Mexico to pay for the wall two years into his presidency, after claiming 100 times that he would?

Erik Prince: They're frustrated, it is a national security issue when you have thousands of people crossing the border with a lot of drugs. Look, America has a huge opiate epidemic.

Mehdi Hasan: And you know the majority of the drugs come through legal points of entry. I'm talking about the funding. Trump said Mexico would fund the wall. Did he lie to people when he said that?

Erik Prince: What used to be a bipartisan issue, the Democrats have made a hyper-partisan issue.

Mehdi Hasan: You're not answering my question. Did he lie to us when he said Mexico would pay for the wall, given you're now trying to get Americans to pay for the wall?

Erik Prince: I don't believe the president has lied. And like I said, the last chapter on Mexico paying for the wall is not done yet, mark my words.

Mehdi Hasan: So, we'll wait for some more. OK, but in the meantime, Americans are going to pay for it through your fundraising. Let's go to our audience who have been waiting very patiently. I'm going to go to the front here and then we'll go to the back. Gentleman here with the beard.

Audience participant 1: Being originally Iraqi and having spent some time in Iraq, I've seen how Iraqis still shudder at the name Blackwater, reminded of the endless aggression, the use of weapons as car horns, or even the use of tear gas as car traffic control. Do you not think that Blackwater has a role to play in perpetuating violence in Iraq, as well as laying the foundation for the creation of al-Qaeda and ISIS?

Erik Prince: There is 110,000 Iraqi civilians who have died after Blackwater ended any involvement in Iraq. Blackwater was not the problem in Iraq. A very sectarian government dominated by Iranian sectarian units that have been pounding on the Sunnis and now pounding on the Kurds is probably the thing that led to that outcrop of ISIS.

Mehdi Hasan: But even if that's part of it, most military experts, including US military experts agree that high-profile incidents, whether it's Abu Ghraib or others, did help act as a recruiting sergeant for groups like ISIS that didn't exist before the US invaded Iraq. So, something like the Nisour Square massacre that is still remembered in Baghdad may well have done, helped people say, "You know what, I'm going to go join an insurgent group now, that's how Americans treat us, private contractors shoot nine-year-old kids in the street, shoot mothers with their children."

Erik Prince: I think massive unemployment and in an Iraqi government that is, you know, when -

Mehdi Hasan: I'm not disputing that; I'm agreeing with you. I'm saying, but do you discount that an Iraqi sitting at home, seeing the Nisour Square massacre doesn't think, "You know what, I might as well go join the insurgency if this is how Americans treat us innocent people"?

Erik Prince: No, that's not, you know - look, there is a justice process that served, there is actually accountability. Lots of investigation for that. But like I said -

Mehdi Hasan: Hold on, that's not what I asked. That's not what I asked, Erik. You don't answer the question I asked. If an Iraqi sitting at home sees the Nisour Square massacre, you don't think that might insight him to join an insurgent group?

Erik Prince: Sure.

Mehdi Hasan: There's no logical leap from that -

Erik Prince: Of course, bad news travel fast and it irritates people, but my point is -

Mehdi Hasan: And you've created the bad news, is what this gentleman is suggesting.

Erik Prince: But we did not create the 110,000 Iraqi civilians that were murdered by ISIS and by al-Hashd ash-Sha'abi and the Iranian sectarian units.

Mehdi Hasan: OK, you didn't kill all of them, OK. Fine. Let's go back to the audience. Gentleman here in the red tie.

Audience participant 2: I'd like to ask what you think some of President Trump's greatest foreign policy achievements have been thus far, and what he should focus on over the next two years to secure re-election.

Erik Prince: Well, you know, the president, he campaigned against endless wars. And the Pentagon - look, there, there is a real military-industrial complex. But he's trying to stop that, he is trying to remove or reduce the US presence in Afghanistan and in Syria. He's been getting the North Koreans to the table, and if he can actually negotiate an end to the Korean War, it will be a magnificent first step. And I think if that's, if that's the case then the US should be willing to pull all troops out of South Korea and end the US presence in Korea, which we've been, which we've had for 77 years.

Mehdi Hasan: You're not a fan of Iran, as we've discussed briefly. Should he negotiate with Iran, too? Why is it that Iran is the evil regime, nobody should talk to them, but North Korea, I send him love letters, he sends me love letters?

Erik Prince: To my knowledge I think there certainly is still backchannel negotiations with the Iranians, as well. But you know, they continue to do, you know, questionable things in Syria.

Mehdi Hasan: OK, let's go back to our audience, let's go to the lady here, and the gentleman there. Do you want to stand up? 

Audience participant 3: Hi, this is also in regards to the August 3rd meeting of 2016. You said that you mentioned it in your testimony to the House Intelligence Committee. I have the transcript right here of the testimony on the 30th of November 2016. You didn't, I could read from it if you want me to.

Mehdi Hasan: We don't have time for you to read the transcript of the House.

Audience participant 3: Exactly. So why didn't you, why are you saying you did when you clearly didn't?

Mehdi Hasan: Do you want to have another go at answering this question? Why didn't you mention it in your testimony if it was nothing to hide?

Erik Prince: Not all the discussion that day was transcribed, and that's a fact.

Audience participant 3: But your answers to the questions suggest that there was no involvement, that - they asked you, for example, "Have you had any meet, any meetings with a UAE delegation prior to the Seychelles meeting?" and the August 3rd meeting was prior to the Seychelles meeting. George Nader is a representative of MBZ.

Mehdi Hasan: OK, let Erik respond.

Erik Prince: Like I said, not everything was transcribed from that discussion. You weren't there.

Mehdi Hasan: You've been very kind of, I admire, you've been very forthcoming to that. On this issue you're very, don't wanna say much. Are you worried, are you worried about Mueller?

Erik Prince: Nope, not at all.

Mehdi Hasan: Nope, OK. Let's go back to the audience. Let's go to the gentleman there. 

Audience participant 4: I was caught in Nisour Square going back my hotel covering a story at the time. It was mayhem, as you know. And we saw people getting killed, my own driver was injured. Now, we've discussed this with you before, Erik. But just going back, what lessons have you learned from it and, and would you have done things differently then, if you knew what you know now?

Erik Prince: Sure. I wouldn't have, I wouldn't ever do security for the State Department again, it just wasn't worth it. It wasn't worth the damage or the horror to the company. If we were going to do it, I would have insisted, like we did for any NGO work that we did, is that we have cameras. OK, because the camera serves as that third-party neutral observer because it's very easy to second-guess something that happens you know, days ago or weeks or months ago, but it's very different when you have to make a split-second decision.

Mehdi Hasan: Here's what I don't get, you're saying cameras, that, the implication being that you don't accept you did anything wrong there. Had there been cameras, your men would have been vindicated. Is that what you're saying? Do you want to be explicit about that?

Erik Prince: Look -

Mehdi Hasan: Because they've been found guilty in American court. I know the courts you don't like, but they've been found guilty in American court.

Erik Prince: After the fourth time of trying.

Mehdi Hasan: OK, they've been found guilty in an American court.

Erik Prince: Right, and we had numerous other incidents where there was a shooting and we were accused, and when law -

Mehdi Hasan: OK, but Nisour Square, do you believe your men did anything wrong?

Erik Prince: And when law enforcement authorities viewed the tapes, there was no problem.

Mehdi Hasan: Do you believe in Nisour Square your men did anything wrong? It's a very simple question.

Erik Prince: In hindsight, sure, if it's an innocent civilian. Every innocent civilian that's killed is a tragedy, is a horror and we tried very hard to avoid that. That's why 41 men died doing that mission, shielding other people from enemy bullets, who were trying to kill them and slaughter them or hang them from a bridge and burn them.

Mehdi Hasan: OK, let me take some more questions. Lady there with her hand up, do you want to wait for the microphone to come to you?

Audience participant 5: Yes, I was a US television journalist in Iraq during and after the invasion. I saw Blackwater people humiliate and terrorise Iraqis. They were hostile to journalists and they were hostile to NGOs. Why should you get a contract to do the same thing in Afghanistan?

Erik Prince: How did you, first of all -

[APPLAUSE]

Erik Prince: How did you know that they were Blackwater personnel?

Audience participant 5: Oh, because they very, very clearly walking around, not just driving cars, walking around, they were Blackwater. As journalists, we knew who Blackwater was. They let us know they were not soldiers, they were Blackwater. It's very easy to tell.

Erik Prince: There was, there was literally - ma'am, I'm sorry. There was hundreds and hundreds of companies employing US, NATO and other country veterans -

Audience participant 5: I can tell the difference between, between Blackwater and NATO. I'm sorry, but it's very easy to tell.

Erik Prince: And, and, and I'm saying I don't think you're that sharp that you can tell the difference between a Polish guy, a French guy or a Canadian guy -

Audience participant 5: Do you think you're that sharp to tell the difference?

Erik Prince: Well, OK. Sure. Absolutely because we track vehicles. 

Mehdi Hasan: All right, before this gets out of hand, we'll go back - you guys aren't going to agree, you're not going to agree. Before this gets out of hand, we'll carry on with the audience, we'll go to this gentleman with the tie in the suit.

Audience participant 6: So, Afghanistan has been in war since 2001 and fighting 20 international terrorist groups. Since 2014, the Afghan national security forces has been doing this by themselves. So, how do you justify that you'll get a contract and go and do the war in Afghanistan, given that you're making money out of this business and you'll never want to conclude this business there? And one point, please do us a favour and have a bold line between mercenaries of dead and democracy. And it's totally up to the people of Afghan to decide who is their next president. Thank you.

Mehdi Hasan: Are you, can I just ask, are you Afghan yourself?

Audience participant 6: Yes.

Mehdi Hasan: And you believe that Afghans don't want -

Audience participant 6: Never. Like, that's definitely never.

Mehdi Hasan: OK, but deal with the first question about you have a self-interest in perpetuating the conflict because you get paid to.

Erik Prince: Ah, here's the thing. Of the $62bn dollars, right now the US spends five billion dollars supporting the Afghan security forces, $57bn is the cost of US presence there. That's going away, OK? The support for the Afghan security forces, the airlift, the medevac, which is wholly inadequate right now, because Afghan soldiers are dying at a rate of 30 and 40 per day. If there is not a skeletal support supply provided to them, Hamid Karzai - I'm sorry - Ashraf Ghani himself said the Afghan Forces will collapse in less than six months, I say it's more like six weeks, OK? So, there has to be some kind of capability to keep the Afghan security forces upright and able to function, so that Afghanistan can actually have a free election to - and they should be totally free to choose their next leader, I agree.

Mehdi Hasan: Erik, let me ask you this. Despite all the things you and Blackwater have been accused of, some of which we've discussed tonight but there's so much more. You said in 2007, quote, "I sleep the sleep of the just, I'm not feeling guilty." Just wondering, is that still the case today? You still have no regrets, no guilt, no ruined sleep at all over all those innocent lives taken by Blackwater employees? None?

Erik Prince: Look, the fact is, the company did what it was asked to, it was asked to protect. We saved thousands and thousands of people, we saved many, many wounded US soldiers well beyond the scope of the contract. OK, we did what we were asked. Any injury, any civilian that's injured in a car crash or a shooting -

Mehdi Hasan: Shot, shot in the head, or nine-year-old children shot in the head.

Erik Prince: Correct. And still since long after Blackwater was involved, 110,000 Iraqi civilians have been killed in that same conflict by ISIS, by incompetent government.

Mehdi Hasan: So, when I have George Bush on the show, I'll ask about his sleep. I'm asking about the people that your guys killed. Does it keep you awake at night?

Erik Prince: We were asked to do a job and we performed very, very well.

Mehdi Hasan: We'll have to leave it there. Thanks to our audience here in the Oxford Union. Thanks to our panel of experts who've come tonight. And thanks to Erik Prince for joining me on Head to Head. Head to Head will be back next week.

Source: Al Jazeera