'Deviant hazing' U.S. Afghan Embassy: Humiliation! Sex! Urination! Hookers! Booze!
Guards At US Base In Afghanistan Having Nude Parties, Urinating On And Humiliating People
A government oversight committee has submitted a shocking report to Secretary of State Clinton, describing the "Lord of the Flies" environment that private guards hired by the State Department to protect diplomats and staff at the U.S. embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan are forced to work in.
The guards are subject to many forms of hazing, and pictures show guards in various stages of nudity during parties on the base. NBC reports:
One e-mail from a guard describes lurid conditions at Camp Sullivan, the guards' quarters a few miles from the embassy. The message described scenes of abuse including guards and supervisors urinating on people and "threats and intimidation from those leaders participating in this activity."
Multiple guards say these conditions have created a "climate of fear and coercion." Those who refuse to participate are often ridiculed, humiliated or even fired, they contended.
'Deviant hazing' alleged at U.S. Embassy in Kabul
* Watchdog: Contractor providing security guards allowed "deviant hazing, humiliation"
* Video showed naked man, another man apparently drinking liquid poured down his back
* Watchdog warns Sec. of State Clinton of security threat posed by behavior
* Company, ArmorGroup, North America, has contract until July 2010
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Some private security guards hired to protect the U.S. Embassy in Afghanistan say their contractor has allowed widespread mistreatment, sexual activity and intimidation within their ranks, according to the watchdog group Project On Government Oversight (POGO).
The group sent a letter to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Tuesday, and briefed reporters on its findings, which it said are based on e-mails and interviews with more than a dozen guards who have worked at the U.S. compound in Kabul.
The company, ArmorGroup, North America, has a security contract with the State Department to provide services through July, 2010, and has been cited several times for shortcomings in the security required by the contract.
A U.S. Senate panel two months ago was critical of the State Department for not closely supervising ArmorGroup, after a series of warning letters from the State Department in the year leading up to the panel's inquiry.
When CNN contacted Wackenhut, the corporate parent of ArmorGroup, a spokesperson there said the company would have a response Wednesday.
The U.S. Embassy said Wednesday it was taking the allegations very seriously.
"Nothing is more important to us than the safety and security of all Embassy personnel -- Americans and Afghan -- and respect for the cultural and religious values of all Afghans," it said in a statement.
"Nothing is more important to us than the safety and security
of all Embassy personnel -- Americans and Afghan --
and respect for the cultural and religious values of all Afghans"
"We have taken immediate steps to review all local guard force policies and procedures and have taken all possible measures to ensure our security is sound." Should initiation rituals such as hazing be allowed? Sound off below
POGO says two weeks ago it began receiving whistleblower-style e-mails, some with graphic images and videos, that are said to document problems taking place at a non-military camp for the guards near the U.S. diplomatic compound in Kabul.
"This is well beyond partying," said Danielle Brian, POGO's executive director, after showing a video of a man with a bare backside, and another man apparently drinking a liquid that had been poured down the man's lower back.
She told CNN that ranking supervisors were "facilitating this kind of deviant hazing and humiliation, and requiring people to do things that made them feel really disgusted."Watch claims that alleged hazing at the U.S. Embassy pose a threat to security »
"This is not Abu Ghraib," she said, referring to images and videos of abuse by U.S. military troops against prisoners held at a facility in Iraq. "We're not talking about torture," she continued, "we are talking about humiliation," by supervisors causing a breakdown of morale, and a "total breakdown in the chain-of-command."
In the letter POGO sent to Clinton, Brian wrote that the problems are "posing a significant threat to the security of the Embassy and its personnel."
Among the recommendations from the group: immediate military supervision of the private security guards, a review of whether the contract should be revoked, and consideration as to whether government forces should replace private security in a combat zone.
Afghan U.S. Embassy patrol in 'deviant' parties with booze, hookers - report
BY Richard Sisk
DAILY NEWS WASHINGTON BUREAU
Wednesday, September 2nd 2009, 4:00 AM
Private guards at U.S. Embassy in Afghanistan party hearty.
WASHINGTON - Secretary of State Clinton ordered an investigation on Tuesday into the Animal House revels of private guards at the U.S. Embassy in Afghanistan - including booze, hookers and other "deviant behavior."
"These are very serious allegations, and we are treating them that way," State Department spokesman Ian Kelly said of photo and e-mail evidence of the "climate of fear and coercion" at the living quarters of ArmorGroup guards.
The investigation by the State Department's inspector general follows a shocking report to Clinton by the nonprofit Project on Government Oversight detailing a "Lord of the Flies environment" at the Camp Sullivan compound a few miles from the embassy in Kabul. Prostitutes allegedly were brought in for birthday parties, drunken guards engaged in brawls and boozy lawn parties turned into naked affairs where guests urinated on one another, according to photos and videos obtained by the nonprofit group.
Clinton has "zero tolerance" for the behavior described and has directed a "review of the whole system" for farming out security to private contractors that may have threatened the safety of embassy personnel, Kelly said.
Earlier, hearings in June by Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.), head of the subcommittee on contractor oversight, questioned whether the contract with ArmorGroup, now owned by Wackenhut Services Inc., should be renewed.
In a separate letter to Clinton, McCaskill said the Project on Government Oversight report "calls into question the ability of the contractor to provide sufficient security for the embassy."
Wackenhut did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
The report found sleep-deprived guards regularly logging 14-hour days, language barriers that impair critical communications and a failure by the State Department to hold the contractor accountable.
About 300 of the 450 ArmorGroup guards employed to protect 1,000 personnel at the embassy are Nepalese Gurkhas and the rest are a mix of Australian, South African and American expats, the oversight project report said.
Although the Gurkhas were described as "serious about their jobs," their difficulty with English had forced the English speakers to "use pantomime in order to convey orders or instructions," the report said.
"One guard described the situation as so dire that if he were to say to many of the Gurkhas, 'There is a terrorist standing behind you,' those Gurkhas would answer 'Thank you, Sir, and good morning,'" the report said.
Gay shenanigans at US Embassy in Afghanistan
The men who are charged with protecting the United States Embassy in Afghanistan from the Taliban are engaging in homoerotic frat boy antics like stripping naked together, urinating on each other, eating potato chips from places where the sun don't shine, and doing vodka shots off each other's rears, according to a State Department investigation.
"...and doing vodka shots off each other's rears"
Mother Jones magazine reports that the Project on Government Oversight (POGO) has written a letter to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton describing a "Lord of the Flies environment" that has overtaken the private contractors who guard State Department employees in Afghanistan.
According to POGO, employees of ArmorGroup North America—a unit of contracting giant Wackenhut—get their rocks off by "deviant hazing [that] has created a climate of fear and coercion, with those who declined to participate often ridiculed, humiliated, demoted, or even fired."
But wait, it gets worse - the hazing isn't limited to the guards, it has also extended to Afghan nationals. A guard force supervisor allegedly grabbed an Afghan national by the face and began abusing him with foul language, saying, "You are very good for f--king." The Afghan national reported that he "was too afraid of them I could not tell them any thing."
Isn't this just what we need as the war in Afghanistan is finally starting to get serious? A bunch of over-the-hill, drunken frat boys protecting our most vital U.S. interests, engaging in this type of behavior? Exactly when do they have time to actually do their jobs?
Maybe the heat has finally gotten to them after after all these years.
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Last edited by StrayStar; 09-02-2009 at 01:42 PM.
Re: 'Deviant hazing' U.S. Afghan Embassy: Humiliation! Sex! Urination! Hookers! Booze!
Well folks, we've hit a new low ... we've hired guards to watch the goddamn guards!!
Security assigned to watch guards at Kabul embassy
By JASON STRAZIUSO (AP) – 3 hours ago
KABUL — The U.S. Embassy in Afghanistan has banned alcohol and assigned American personnel to watch over the embassy's security guards following allegations of lewd behavior and sexual misconduct at their living quarters.
An independent watchdog group alleged this week guards hired by a private contractor were threatened and intimidated at their offsite living quarters, and photos were released of guards and supervisors in various stages of nudity at parties flowing with booze.
The State Department inspector general is leading an investigation of the contractor, ArmorGroup North America.
Ambassador Karl Eikenberry held a meeting with embassy staff on Thursday to discuss the situation, said embassy spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden.
"We've already started to make changes to remedy some of the problems," Hayden said.
Alcohol has been prohibited at Camp Sullivan — the offsite location where ArmorGroup guards live — and diplomatic security staff have been assigned to the camp, the embassy said.
The embassy "will continue to take every possible step to ensure the safety and security of American Embassy personnel, while respecting the values of all Afghans, Americans and contract employees and visitors from other countries," an embassy statement said.
The ArmorGroup security personnel guard the gates to the embassy road and perimeter and screen visitors. The Project on Government Oversight, an independent watchdog group, said the nearly 450 ArmorGroup guards live and work in an oppressive environment in which they are subjected to hazing and other inappropriate behavior by supervisors.
In at least one case, supervisors brought prostitutes into the quarters where the guards live, a serious breach of security and discipline, the group said this week. In other instances, members of the guard force drew Afghans into activities forbidden by Muslims, such as drinking alcoholic beverages, it said.
The situation led to a breakdown in morale and leadership that has compromised security at the embassy, where nearly 1,000 U.S. diplomats, staff and Afghan nationals work, according to the nonprofit group.
The embassy has been targeted in insurgent rocket attacks, and suicide bombs have exploded at or near its gates. Militant attacks have risen across Afghanistan the last three years.
In the latest violence, Britain's defense ministry said a soldier was killed Wednesday in a bomb attack in Helmand province. The death raised the number of British soldiers killed in Afghanistan since 2001 to 211.
I'm fucking speechless...
Meanwhile, around the world, the US is getting another round of embarrassing press over this latest show of stupidity.
US soldiers for hire… for sex
A sex panic is brewing and this time it isn’t over women or children, but the manliest of men: soldiers for hire. In this case, young men working for the ArmorGroup at the US Embassy in Kabul say they were forced to get naked and engage in sexual acts by their superiors. The State Department recently renewed its contract with the ArmorGroup despite allegations of sexual misconduct.
The story, which is surfacing in a variety of newspapers, almost always has the words “sexual deviancy” in the title. My personal favorite is the ABC News once that includes a “slide show.”
Call me a pervert, but I don’t think the issue here is what these men were doing poolside. Who cares if they did shots off each other’s nipples and anuses? And how the hell did perfectly “normal” homoerotic acts get labeled as “sexual deviancy”? Last I checked, homoeroticism is not listed in the DSM as a form of sexual deviancy, and even if it were, that’s only because psychiatrists are as uptight as priests when it comes to sexual pleasure (that’s why you still can’t masturbate onto a shoe without being labeled a deviant). As for whether these men were sexually harassed by their superiors, well, that’s sad, but I’m not really shedding tears over the fact that mercenary armies are not nice places to work.
But what is really and truly upsetting, what is causing me to shed a few tears, is that once again the mainstream media is ignoring the real story: hiring out to private, for profit companies our national defense. Not only is this costing all of us a lot of money since these soldiers for hire don’t work for peanuts and the promise of a college degree and the higher- ups in these companies earn salaries comparable to AIG execs, but more importantly, the US government has very little or even no control over how these mercenaries behave.
A little male bonding and fondling around poolside? Jesus. How about the rape and murder of Iraqi civilians? A recent article by Jeremy Scahill, author of Blackwater: The Rise of the World’s Most Powerful Mercenary Army, asks why we’re still using companies like the ArmorGroup and Blackwater when Hillary Clinton is Secretary of State and when she was candidate Clinton she promised to end the US’s reliance on mercenaries. Clinton even co-sponsored the Stop Outsourcing Security, or SOS Act, because
“These private security contractors have been reckless and have compromised our mission in Iraq… The time to show these contractors the door is long past due. We need to stop filling the coffers of contractors in Iraq, and make sure that armed personnel in Iraq are fully accountable to the U.S. government and follow the chain of command.”
Perhaps the sex scandal (manly men committing homoerotic acts does make the American heart go aflutter) brewing around the Kabul Embassy soldiers-for-hire will cause Secretary of State Clinton and President Obama to do what should have been done a long time ago: stop putting US defense in the hands of private contractors. As for the mercenaries who will be out of a job, I suppose there’s always the possibility of selling a calender of erotic images in their coconut shell jock straps.
ABC News: Kabul U.S. Embassy Guard: Sexual Deviancy Required for Promotion
Bosses Required Sex Acts for Guards Seeking Best shift, Promotion
Private security guards at the U.S. Embassy in Kabul were pressured to participate in naked pool parties and perform sex acts to gain promotions or assignment to preferable shifts, according to one of 12 guards who have gone public with their complaints.
In an interview with ABC News for broadcast tonight on the "World News with Charles Gibson," the guard, a U.S. military veteran, said top supervisors of the ArmorGroup were not only aware of the "deviant sexual acts" but helped to organize them.
"It was mostly the young guys fresh from the military who were told they had to participate," said the guard, who talked on a phone hook-up arranged by the Project on Government Oversight, which first revealed photographs of the parties.
"They were not gay but they knew what it took to get promoted," said the guard, spoke on condition that ABC News not publish his name.
The State Department said it was investigating the allegations and the circumstances surrounding the photographs which show naked and barely clothed men fondling one another. The guard who spoke with ABC News said the drunken parties had been held regularly for at least a year and a half.
The State Department renewed its contract with ArmorGroup to provide security at the Kabul embassy last month even though there have been a series of complaints about its performance.
In June 2007, the State Department warned "the security of the US embassy in Kabul is in jeopardy" because of "deficiencies" on the part of ArmorGroup.
Similar complaints were raised at a Senate hearing in June 2009 by Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-MO).
Sam Brinkley, vice-president of the ArmorGroup's corporate parent Wackenhut Services, defended the company's performance in Kabul.
"We are a guard company that prides itself in doing missions well," Brinkley testified.
Wackenhut did not immediately return requests for comment.
The photographs of the naked parties all involve one of four shifts assigned to the embassy, Charlie Shift, according to the guard who spoke with ABC News.
He said other shifts tried to complain about the activities but were ignored by officials from corporate headquarters who visited Kabul.
"It was demeaning, it was humiliating and that was the whole point of it all," the guard said.
Re: 'Deviant hazing' U.S. Afghan Embassy: Humiliation! Sex! Urination! Hookers! Booze!
It is the bulk of a life lived, that defines a man, not merely
a chapter, moment, nor day.
Re: 'Deviant hazing' U.S. Afghan Embassy: Humiliation! Sex! Urination! Hookers! Booze!
The U S of A is getting some real good publicity outta this...
More abhorrent behavior is surfacing from one of America's many war zones this week. It is not civilian murder in Iraq, or child prostitution from XE (formerly Blackwater). It comes from a US embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan. Twelve guards have come forward with sworn testimony and visual evidence of sexual deviancy and drunken hazing that would make any upstanding moral citizen, soldier, or military official cringe in anger and disbelief.
ABC news, the Project on Government Oversight, and many other news agencies are likening it to the film "Animal House" or to drunken fraternity days of their college years. This however is not college, and these are not sleep deprived, eager students who have yet to decide where the lines are drawn in their moral sandboxes. These are soldiers who, regardless of your personal opinion on why or if at all we should be there, are charged with protecting the peace on American soil in a foreign land. When the world criticizes American imperialistic tendencies [the fact that we have a military base in almost every country on the planet] or its hypocritical nature [torture, rendition, use of unsanctioned tactics of war] there has always been a rebuttal from the top brass as to why we can break the rules we so vehemently proclaim to be invested in protecting around the world.
Let's see if this gets swept under the rug and marginally legitimized like the waterboarding or other "enhanced interrogation techniques" that even Major General Taguba admitted were going on. Let's see if talks of retroactive immunity occur as with FISA (AKA the illegal wiretapping bill). It would be very interesting to see the attempts to legitimize the promotions based on sexual favors, drunken bonfires, prostitution visits to secure militarized areas, manipulation of regulations and blind eyes turned to it all. This must be traced back beyond the young soldiers who were forced to partake in this scandal. It must not be another Abu Ghraib - where the sources of the debauchery are allowed to go free and those who were following orders are allowed to take the fall.
This is really bad if Hillary Clinton is "outraged" over this... as you recall, she was never "outraged" at Bill's admitted sexual antics in the oval office, never found it to be a problem .... just sayin...
( there's no truth to the rumour that Bill has offered to go to Kabul to investigate the situation... )
WASHINGTON — Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton is "genuinely offended" by reports of misconduct by private guards working for the U.S. Embassy in Afghanistan, a State Department spokesman said Thursday.
Those who engaged in such activities will be dismissed from their posts, spokesman P.J. Crowley said.
Allegations of lewd behavior and sexual misconduct among the private security contractors guarding the embassy surfaced including reports of threats, intimidation and guards and supervisors in various stages of nudity at parties flowing with alcohol.
Clinton "is very displeased that this could have happened and that this could have happened without our knowledge," Crowley said.
Any employees of ArmorGroup North America who created what a watchdog group described as a "Lord of the Flies" environment at the guard's living quarters "will be removed and taken out of the country and will find a new line of work," he said. The "Lord of the Flies" reference is to a novel about a group of British schoolboys stranded on a desert island who try, but fail, to govern themselves in a chaotic setting.
The State Department launched an investigation following the allegations from the Project on Government Oversight, the Washington-based independent watchdog group.
In at least one case, supervisors allegedly brought prostitutes into the quarters where the guards live, a serious breach of security and discipline, the group said.
In other instances, members of the guard force have drawn Afghans into activities forbidden by Muslims, such as drinking alcoholic beverages.
"This violated our values," Crowley said. "This potentially compromised ... the important work of the United States embassy in Kabul."
The State Department has insisted security at the embassy in Kabul, one of the country's most important diplomatic outposts, hasn't been compromised.
ArmorGroup was awarded the $189 million security contract in March 2007 and has been repeatedly warned of performance deficiencies. Wackenhut Services, ArmorGroup's parent company, referred all questions to the State Department. Spokeswoman Susan Pitcher said the company is fully cooperating with the State Department's investigation.
Karl Eikenberry, the U.S. ambassador in Afghanistan, is actively involved in the inquiry, Crowley said. About 60 people have already been interviewed.
Alcohol has been prohibited at Camp Sullivan, the offsite location near the embassy where the ArmorGroup guards live, and diplomatic security staff have been assigned to the camp, according to the embassy.
The good ol' days
Lest we forget Hillary's lack of outrage over Bill's oval office orgy ...
... so NOW she's "outraged" ?
Sex and security in Afghanistan
A month or so back we reported on an incident at the Afghan embassy on security guards involved in sex shennigans with other guards and local whores. That story can be found here at the Bards in this thread:
'Deviant hazing' U.S. Afghan Embassy: Humiliation! Sex! Urination! Hookers! Booze!
Back then we didn't know the extent of the problem.... now we do. Here is an update on the security (or lack of) in Afghanistan... a sordid tale indeed.
Sex and security in Afghanistan
By David Isenberg
A report by the Washington, DC, Project on Government Oversight recently released publicly tells of the wild naked antics of members of ArmorGroup (AG), which has a United States State Department contract to provide security for the US Embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan.
Hardly mentioned is the use of local bordellos by some contractors. It took a lawsuit filed on September 9 by James Gordon, a former ArmorGroup director of operations, and subsequent whistleblower, against ArmorGroup North America and associated defendants - ArmorGroup International (AGI), Wackenhut Services Inc (WSI), and various management individuals - to bring details to light. Among other things he charges that AG:
* Allowed AGNA managers and employees to frequent brothels notorious for housing trafficked women in violation of the Trafficking Victims Protection Act, and shutting down the plaintiff's efforts to investigate and put a stop to these violations.
* Deliberately withholding documents relating to violations of the Trafficking Victims Protection Act allegedly committed by AGNA's program manager and other AGNA employees when responding to a document demand from US Congressman Henry Waxman on behalf of the Congressional Committee on Oversight and Government Reform.
This is not the first time issues of private military and security contractors and sex have come up. But the pattern of not doing anything when offenses are reported remains depressingly familiar.
As an article in the winter issue of the Wisconsin International Law Journal recounts, in 2000, employees of DynCorp Inc, a Virginia-based private military security company (PMSC) employed by the United Nations Police Task Force in the Balkans, were accused of participating in a Bosnian sex slavery ring. Kathryn Bolkovac, a DynCorp employee working as a UN Police Force monitor, reported to her supervisors that her male colleagues had made comments about women they owned. Bolkovac was fired soon after.
It is worth noting that investigations of DynCorp had begun before Bolkovac became involved. In 1999, Bosnian police launched an investigation after local media reported that five male DynCorp employees had purchased female prostitutes from a Serbian organized crime outfit. The Bosnian government informed the commander of the US Regional Task Force of the allegations and the army requested that DynCorp remove the five men within 48 hours.
DynCorp transferred the accused to Germany for investigatory interviews in response to evidence that the accused employees had not only consorted with local mobsters and warned them of imminent raids, but had actually engaged in trafficking themselves. Having effectively removed them from the jurisdiction of the Bosnian police, DynCorp then released the employees without alerting American or international law-enforcement officials of the allegations against them. This satisfied the army.
But at least seven other DynCorp employees, including a supervisor, continued to engage in sex crimes. After overhearing a fellow helicopter mechanic brag, "My girl's not a day over 12," then-DynCorp employee Ben Johnston reported this and other trafficking-related activities to the Army Criminal Investigative Command (CID) at Camp Comanche in Dubrave, Bosnia.
The CID began an investigation, but quickly determined that the American military did not have jurisdiction over UN contractor employees. Alerted by CID, the Bosnian police began an investigation, but mistakenly believed that they, too, lacked jurisdiction to arrest UN Task Force contractor employees. By the time the Bosnian police did move to make arrests, the employees in question had been transferred beyond the reach of local authorities. Like Bolkovac, Johnston was fired. His supervisors claimed that he had discredited the company by bringing unsubstantiated charges against his coworkers and that he had "brought discredit to [Dyncorp] and to the US Army".
In late 2002, Bolkovac won 10,000 pounds sterling (US$16,000 at the current rate) in damages after a British tribunal found that DynCorp Aerospace UK Ltd, a subsidiary of DynCorp, violated the United Kingdom's whistle-blowing statute - the Public Interest Disclosure Act of 1998 - when the company fired her. DynCorp then agreed to settle a suit brought by Ben Johnston two days before the case went to trial in Texas. The amount of his settlement is confidential.
Nine of the employees investigated by CID and transferred out of the country by DynCorp were Americans. Only seven were fired and none were criminally prosecuted. The employee who had claimed to own a 12-year-old sex slave was among those investigated and allowed to remain with the company. CID agents escorted another man to the airport from where he was flown out of the country.
While still in Bosnia, the man had admitted that he had purchased a Moldovan woman and an Uzi from a local bartender active in the Serbian mob. The employee was subsequently released from his job with DynCorp but was never charged with any crime. Unless the implicated employees return to Bosnian jurisdiction, they cannot be arrested or tried for the trafficking and related sex crimes they committed in 2000.
In a foreshadowing of the current situation with ArmorGroup, Dyncorp denied any culpability. However, it did admit to a battle to control its employees. Back then, DynCorp's selection procedures for choosing employees to work in Bosnia, which the company claimed was very rigorous and detailed, and subsequent procedures for checking their conduct in the field, failed to separate, or later identify, those who were likely, or did, take advantage of the situation and purchased prostitutes.
DynCorp was not particularly hurt by the scandal. A few weeks after Bolkovac won her damages, the British government announced a Ministry of Defense contract award to a consortium that included DynCorp to supply support services for military firing ranges.
In 2003, it a won multi-million-dollar contract to help train Iraqi police in post-Saddam Hussein Iraq. Although mindful of what happened in Bosnia, personnel recruited had to acknowledge in writing that human trafficking and involvement with prostitution "are considered illegal by the international community and are immoral, unethical and strictly prohibited".
For all the claims of the private military and security sector that they don't condone such behavior, it is important to note the difference between the private and public sectors. A 2005 study "Barracks and Brothels: Peacekeepers and Human Trafficking in the Balkans" by the Washington, DC-based Center for Strategic and International Studies, noted that in 2004, the US Department of Defense (DoD), the North Atlantic Treaty Organization and the United Nations each adopted a zero-tolerance policy on trafficking. It also noted that each of these organizations "has been reluctant to address the security implications of misconduct by uniformed service members and civilian contractors, especially involving human rights abuses".
The report noted that the DoD's Inspector General's formal investigation in 2003 into complicity of DoD personnel in the Balkans was superficial and pro forma. Had DoD personnel followed the leads they were given, they would have found evidence of civilian contractor complicity in human trafficking.
In August 2007, there was a brief flap when "Tori" the Escort, from Atlanta, Georgia, announced she was going to be in Baghdad's Green Zone for an extended tour. Her post on an escort review message board read, "While in the IZ, I am in a unique position of entertaining from a secured compound. I'm entertaining all members of the PMC [private military contractors] community registered with PSCAI [Private Security Company Association of Iraq] with a few stipulations. My compound is within the central population and easy to find."
In a statement, Lawrence Peter, director of PSCAI, said Tori's use of the group's name and logo were unauthorized. "We have not, nor ever will, condone the type of activity suggested," he said. "We are currently investigating the source of these allegations and any association member found promoting, condoning or participating in these activities will be immediately expelled."
With events like these as background it is instructive to consider current events.
According to Gordon's lawsuit on or about November 8, 2007, ArmorGroup North America deputy program manager Jimmy Lemon informed Gordon and Puja Power, the acting director of Human Resources, that AGNA's armorer (the official in charge of the upkeep of small arms, machine guns and ammunition) was not properly performing his duties and had recently been forcibly removed during work hours from a brothel in Kabul. Gordon instructed Ms Power to initiate action to terminate him at once.
A short time later, Power reported to Gordon that when she confronted the armorer about his misconduct, he stated that he could not be terminated because program manager Nick du Plessis and medic Neville Montefiore had frequented these brothels with him.
Gordon knew that the procurement of commercial sex acts by AGNA employees violated the laws of the United States and the Kabul Embassy contract. He was concerned both because the frequenting of brothels by AGNA personnel raised security concerns about the guard force's ability to safeguard the US Embassy and because it was well known that young Chinese girls were trafficked to Kabul for commercial sexual exploitation, in violation of the Trafficking Victims Protection Act. The act and its implementing regulations prohibit contractors, like ArmorGroup and their employees, from engaging in severe forms of trafficking in persons and from procuring commercial sex acts during the period of performance of the contract.
According to the US State Department's 2008 Trafficking in Persons Report, Afghanistan is a destination for women and girls from China, Iran and Tajikistan trafficked for commercial sexual exploitation. Afghan children also are trafficked within the country for sexual exploitation.
Gordon was especially alarmed because the program manager himself, the top manager in Kabul overseeing the guard force, had been identified as a participant in these unlawful activities. Gordon realized that if AGNA did not conduct a thorough investigation and terminate the wrongdoers, members of the guard force would perceive AGNA's inaction as a license to engage in similar unlawful activities.
Gordon immediately reported the information he had received from Power to AGNA president Karl Semancik and to the Department of State (DoS) and recommended that AGNA's corporate management commence a thorough investigation of the matter. Gordon proposed that either he or AGNA's deputy director of operations, Gregory Vrentas, a former US Army Lieutenant Colonel with the Office of Military Cooperation-Afghanistan, direct the investigation. Semancik concurred that this was the appropriate course of action.
But AG International, the parent corporation, obstructed Gordon's efforts to ensure that AGNA conduct a full investigation and report all information to DoS. Shortly after receiving his recommendation, Semancik informed Gordon that AGI officials had rejected his plan for either him or Vrentas to direct the investigation, and instead decided that AGI chief operating officer Noel Philp and AGI director of operations Nick Powis would handle the investigation themselves. This plan of action was in direct contravention of both AGNA's policies and the FOCI program requirements.
Around the same time, Chris Duffy, a temporary medic for AGNA who had relieved Montefiore while he was on leave, noted that there had been an outbreak of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) among AGNA workers in 2007. Duffy reported this to Powis in London, who in turn informed Gordon during a routine
telephone call that these issues had been uncovered.
Subsequently, Philp and Powis claimed to conduct an investigation into the allegations that AGNA employees, including the program manager, had violated the Trafficking Victims Protection Act.
Gordon was denied access to the investigative reports or any information about the nature or extent of the investigation. The only document provided to Gordon was a three-page report of the findings by Philp and Powis. The report stated that Du Plessis was aware that "some members of the workforce had abused the MWR [Moral, Welfare and Recreation] policy for the purpose of seeking out prostitutes, but this represented only a minority against the overall net benefit of having a 'light-touch' MWR policy." No mention was made of the fact that the conduct at issue violated the Trafficking Victims Protection Act's blanket prohibition of the procurement of commercial sex acts and the DoS's "zero tolerance" policy for violations of this law.
The only corrective action taken per the report was to direct the program manager to revise the MWR policy, which had allowed AGNA personnel to frequent bars, restaurants and other places in which human trafficking activity occurred.
In a letter dated December 13, 2007, US Congressman Henry A Waxman, then chairman of the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, sent a letter to AGI requesting information about ArmorGroup's security services in Iraq and Afghanistan from January 1, 2003, to the present, as part of the committee's ongoing investigation into the role of private military contractors in Iraq and Afghanistan. Waxman requested:
all incident reports, investigative reports, correspondence and other documents relating to ... (b) all incidents involving improper or unprofessional behavior by company personnel, including all incidents resulting in termination or other disciplinary action against security contractor personnel ... (c) all incidents that could reflect negatively on the company or its clients, including all incidents that led to complaints or allegations of misconduct by company personnel. AGI was to provide "a written certification by an authorized company official that ArmorGroup has provided all [responsive] information and documents".On or around January 3, 2008, Gordon learned that an AGNA trainee who had previously worked under Du Plessis' supervision for another security contractor in Kabul had bragged to other employees in training that his primary reason for returning to Kabul was to take advantage of the human trafficking activities there.
This trainee boasted that his friend in Kabul owned a brothel and six Asian women and that he (the trainee) was considering purchasing a woman for US$20,000, thus enabling him to start making a profit on this purchase after a month. Another student who was privy to this conversation reported it to AGNA officials. In addition, a DoS investigator, David Lydek, was on site when the issue was reported and was aware of the allegation.
Gordon promptly obtained a statement from the witness and reported the incident to a DoS official, and to AGNA senior management, including James D Schmitt, then vice president of business development for AGNA, and Jerry Hoffman, then interim chief executive officer of AGNA. In discussions with Schmitt, Gordon insisted that AGNA needed to take decisive action to investigate and repudiate these activities. While they both paid lip service to the seriousness of the allegations, neither took appropriate action to investigate whether such conduct was in fact occurring among the current AGNA guard force.
In mid-to-late January 2008, AGNA formulated a response to Waxman's document demand that deliberately omitted inclusion of any documents relating to the allegations that AGNA's program manager, armorer and medic frequented brothels, the outbreak of STDs among the workforce, or the incident involving the trainee referenced above.
Gordon discussed the submission with Schmitt, who had assumed responsibility for preparing the report to Waxman. In response to Gordon's objections, Schmitt responded that AGNA decided that those items "were best left out of the report", as it would "not look good for the company".
On February 27, 2008, according to Gordon, Schmitt provided false testimony to the US Congress about AGNA's business practices during his appearance before a hearing of the United States Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs. The hearing was titled "An Uneasy Relationship: US Reliance on Private Security Firms in Overseas Operations".
At one point, Schmitt stated, "In the case of ArmorGroup, we have long established formal corporate programs to ensure that company employees act at all times within the relevant international and local legal and humanitarian frameworks, including an employee code of conduct, a stringent ethics policy, and an ethics review board."
Schmitt further testified, "We ensure our employees are trained and certified on the tenets of international humanitarian law as well as the local laws of the countries in which they operate." He further gave examples of corporate ethics programs, such as "full adherence to and mandatory induction and continuation training on US and host nation local laws and international human rights and humanitarian law", fully knowing that AGNA had been woefully deficient in providing armored vehicles, legally procured weapons, and other items necessary for effective security management and with the knowledge that AGNA employees had violated local, US, and international laws with impunity.
Ironically, in light of Gordon's current allegations, Schmitt also said:
As private security contractors, or PSCs, it is the actions we do, good or bad, and the image we project, that influence and shape how the local civilian populations view our nation. Perceptions matter. The conduct and disposition of private security contractors is the striking canvas from which we, as a nation, are viewed by local inhabitants ... We implement deliberate leave rotation, provide personal insurance and welfare policies, and we teach cultural training to ensure our employees, whom we refer to as our "quiet professionals", are prepared to provide our protective services in an ethically sensitive fashion in the most complex of environments.And in a comment that can only be viewed as prescient in light of the current ArmorGroup scandal he also said, "As to the question on whether there is a need to establish government-wide standards, licensing requirements, or contract provisions for security providers, the answer can only be 'Absolutely yes'."
Interestingly, in 2007, Schmitt served as the chair of the Private Security Industries Association in the International Peace Operations Association (IPOA), a leading US trade association for both private military and security contractors. ArmorGroup has been a member company of IPOA since August 2003.
Last edited by StrayStar; 10-26-2009 at 08:13 AM.
Re: Sex and security in Afghanistan
I mereged the two threads togeather Stray, thanks for the good follow-up reporting
It is the bulk of a life lived, that defines a man, not merely
a chapter, moment, nor day.
Last edited by Bard; 10-27-2009 at 03:20 PM.