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Blackwater boss, former CIA execs create new firm Print
Washington Business Journal (Washington DC)
March 12, 2007 - Ben Hammer
 
Three well-placed intelligence industry executives have joined forces to run a new corporate risk-mitigation advisory service called Total Intelligence Solutions.The mastermind behind the company -- which came together through merging three security consulting firms -- is none other than Erik Prince, owner of controversial defense contractor Blackwater USA and heir to his late father's auto-parts fortune.
The company's chairman is Cofer Black, former director of the CIA counterterrorist center and State Department coordinator for counterterrorism. Its CEO is Robert Richer, the agency's former associate deputy director for operations.

Total Intelligence will provide advice on international business, offer counterterrorism training, report on international conditions, assess
business risk, prevent industrial espionage, perform due diligence on competitors and conduct background checks on individuals.

The McLean company is the synthesis of several of Prince's deals. In April 2006, he acquired Arlington-based Terrorism Research Center, a 50-person company that publishes subscription reports on terrorism and offers a weeklong training course on terrorist operations to Navy SEALs and others. In December, Prince bought four-person McLean consulting firm The Black Group, Cofer Black's firm. And last month he acquired Arlington information security consulting firm Technical Defense.

Financial terms of the deals are unknown Richer and Black wouldn't provide figures, and Prince didn't return calls.

Total Intelligence has quickly grown from 50 to 95 employees since beginning operations as a unified entity last month, in large part because Richer has hired independent contractors who worked for the acquired companies.

"We're now capable of walking into a corporate client and talking with them about every aspect of their security," he says. "We're going to go to places where there's huge need for this service but generally don't get it because they're outside of Washington or New York."

Total Intelligence will draw on partnerships with Blackwater and Chantilly information-security software company NetWitness, with each referring business to the other. NetWitness was spun out of ManTech International in late October and is financed by CEO Amit Yoran, the former cybersecurity chief for the Department of Homeland Security.

While the company's experience in the intelligence business will play a large part in assuring clients of its expertise, Blackwater's troubles could hurt Total Intelligence before it gets out of the gate.

Blackwater uses retired special operations forces to provide security in Iraq and Afghanistan. Relatives of four employees killed in Iraq in 2004 filed a wrongful death suit against the company for allegedly not providing adequate equipment and other resources. The U.S. Supreme Court in late February declined to hear a Blackwater appeal requesting that the case be moved from North Carolina courts to federal court.

The House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform heard from the family members on Feb. 7 and questioned company officials about the costs of Blackwater's security operations to taxpayers.

Total Intelligence has a myriad of connections to Blackwater in addition to being owned by billionaire and former SEAL Prince.

Richer was hired in 2005 as Blackwater's vice president of intelligence and immediately began working with Prince on conceiving a separate company to provide risk-mitigation services. He hired an administrative staff and several managers from Blackwater to join Total Intelligence. Total Intelligence Chairman Black is vice-chairman of Blackwater.

Public perception will be key to winning over clients.

"It's not as if they are going into the market in a vacuum," says Gene Grabowski, senior vice president of D.C. crisis public relations firm Levick Strategic Communications. "Their competitors are going to bring this up and try to create doubts in the minds of the potential client."
 
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