Contractors in Kabul Accused of 'Lewd and Deviant Behavior'

Article excerpt

A national watchdog group is asking the Pentagon to deploy military minders to oversee a group of contractors hired to guard the US Embassy in Kabul. The group reports that guards there created a "Lord of the Flies"-like environment that threatened embassy security.

The Project on Government Oversight investigated reports from employees of a private security firm hired by the US State Department that guards had participated in inappropriate behavior at parties near the embassy and had put American security, if not the mission in Afghanistan, in jeopardy.

"Lewd and deviant behavior" of about 30 guards and supervisors included drinking at parties in which there was nudity, brawls between guards, and at least in one instance the presence of women, allegedly prostitutes, at a nearby camp that was used to house the guards, according to a letter sent by POGO to Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton Tuesday.

There were other alleged incidents in which guards were shown in videos and pictures in a drunken and semi-nude state alongside Afghan nationals, who would presumably consider such behavior in a Muslim country offensive.

"POGO believes that the management of the contract to protect the US embassy Kabul is grossly deficient, posing a significant threat to the security of the embassy and its personnel - and thereby to the diplomatic mission of Afghanistan," Danielle Brian, executive director of POGO, wrote in the letter to Ms. Clinton.

The guards, many of whom do not speak English, are employees of AmorGroup, a British firm that is a subsidiary of Wackenhut Services, Inc. A spokesperson at Miami-based Wackenhut said the company was preparing a response to the allegations.

Noting that State Department officials either knew or should have known about the environment in which the contractors were allowed to operate, POGO called for Pentagon oversight of the contract.

According to news reports Wednesday, the State Department inspector general is sending a team to conduct a "full inspection" of operations at the US Embassy in Kabul. …