Erik Prince, the founder of the private security firm, Blackwater Inc., is either a great American patriot, used and then dumped by the United States government, or one of the biggest war profiteers in the history of armed conflict, depending on how you see it.
Today, Prince said he wants to set the record straight about him and Blackwater, the controversial private army he built into a global juggernaut.
"There became such a ... cyclone of nonsense that would feed off itself, and it built us into a 10-foot-tall boogeyman, which just wasn't the case," he said.
Prince, 44, sat down for an interview with ABC News' Martha Raddatz for "Nightline" at his Virginia estate to talk about his new book, "Civilian Warriors," what happened when Blackwater contractors were in Iraq and Afghanistan, his company's involvement with the CIA and how he "seriously regrets" working for the U.S. State Department.
"I don't want to sound like I'm complaining, because whatever nonsense I've had to put up with, there's a lot of guys and girls that paid a far higher price, that lost their life, that lost limbs, eyes, marriages, whatever, serving their country," he said. "It was professionally satisfying and also tragic."
The name Blackwater is most associated with the four Blackwater contractors who were killed in Iraq in 2004, their bodies burned and hung from a bridge in Fallujah. Three years later, members of Congress brought forth accusations of Blackwater guards indiscriminately shooting, leading to the deaths of civilians. Then Prince himself was called before Congress for a lashing.
To this day, he does not apologize for anything that happened.
"Some people will always hate the name Blackwater," he said. "They might not like me. It's probably around 40 percent of America. I am perfectly comfortable with that."
In his new book, Prince takes aim at his critics, the "cold and timid souls" he blames for the downfall of the company.
"It was really hard seeing it dismembered by the bureaucracy and all the attacks," he said.
Prince grew up in a wealthy and conservative Michigan family. His father was an immensely successful automotive entrepreneur. After a stint in the Navy SEALS, Prince decided in the late '90s to use his inherited fortune to build a private training facility for military and law enforcement in the swamps of North Carolina.
"I didn't need the job but I liked the job," he said. "I loved being a SEAL. I loved working with those kind of guys and a sense of mission, and Blackwater was started to continue that sense of mission."
Then came the bombing of the USS Cole in 2000 and then the terror attacks of 9/11, and Blackwater rapidly grew into a vital security and support contractor for the Pentagon, the U.S. State Department and the CIA.
"There was all kinds of things the company did, and there was things that I did personally," Prince said.
It was reported that teams of special operatives were trained on Prince's Virginia estate for CIA-led assassination squads that would hunt down suspected terrorists, wherever they might be found.
When asked if training took place on his Virginia estate, Prince said, "I would say I put all of my resources at the disposal of the U.S. government, including personal resources, even homes and farms or whatever else."