The congressional inquisitors are buckling under Erik Prince's star performance at the hearing. Some have backed away completely from the majority party's scripted attack on Blackwater, with even Chairman Waxman praising Prince.
In her comments, Rep. Diane Watson (D-Calif.) surprises the audience when she says, "I want to commend Mr Prince for his duties, for his skill, and for his heading up Blackwater."
"You are providing a service," she says. "And I commend you."
As to Blackwater's contracts, her beef seems not so much with Prince and Blackwater as with the government for not paying military personnel as much as Blackwater receives: "I am just infuriated, not with you, but with the fact that our State Department and our Department of Defense cannot see their way."
"You will continue to be paid so that you can buy the helicopters that are shot down," Rep. Watson adds, referring to Prince's statement that he must pay the cost for all Blackwater helicopters that are lost in Iraq.
Watson suggests that the military take on the diplomatic protective role, but that Blackwater train the armed forces to do so: "Would it not be better to hire you to train our military to train our VIPs?" She seemed to indicate that she agreed with her question.