Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Wire: State Dept. 'Lord of the Flies' in Kabul

Off the Wire

Off the Wire:

WASHINGTON, Sept. 1, 2009 -- Newswire services this afternoon reported that State Department contractors guarding the U.S. embassy in Kabul are working in a “Lord of the Flies environment,” a Washington, D.C., watchdog group told Secretary of State Hillary Clinton Tuesday.

The Politico Web site said that about ten percent of the 150 English-speaking guards employed at the embassy by ArmorGroup, a private security company headquartered in Britain and Florida, approached the Project on Government Oversight (POGO) and described “a pervasive breakdown in the chain of command and guard force discipline and morale,” according a letter sent to Clinton by executive director Danielle Brian.

The Politico noted the following details:
An e-mail from one of the guards described parties on days off where guards and their supervisors urinated on themselves and others, and ate potato chips and drank vodka from the cracks of buttocks. Pictures accompanying POGO’s letter corroborate at least some of the allegations. The e-mail and photographs were given to reporters by POGO.

“Beyond basic decency standards, the situation at Camp Sullivan is clearly in violation of [ArmorGroup’s] contract with the State Department, which specifies, ‘Each contractor employee or subcontractor employee is expected to adhere to standards of conduct that reflect credit on themselves, their employer and the United States Government,’” Brian said in the letter to Clinton.

Beyond that, the breakdown in discipline and the guards’ chain of command was a serious security breach that the U.S. government needed to address, Brian said in her letter.
ArmorGroup, a subsidiary of G4S Wackenhut Corp., has come under scrutiny several times in the past, The Politico said.

Despite warning letters from State, ArmorGroup’s contract for security services at the U.S. embassy in Kabul was renewed in July.

Neither the State Department nor G4S Wackenhut responded to a request from The Politico for comment.

(Report from newswire sources.)

Source: 'Lord of the Flies' in Kabul

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