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
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 sai
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