WASHINGTON (AP) – 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.
On the Net:
Project on Government Oversight: http://www.pogo.org/
U.S. Embassy in Afghanistan: http://kabul.usembassy.gov/
Besides being awarded the contract in 2007, Armor Group of North America, a subsidiary of Wackenhut , should suffer penalties and a partial refund for breach of contract providing inferior services not up to US standards as promised in their contract.