US removes 16 guards in Afghan embassy scandal

Sixteen private guards have been removed from the U.S. Embassy in Afghanistan in a scandal over sexual hazing and lewd behavior.

US removes 16 guards in Afghan embassy scandal

Sixteen private guards have been removed from the U.S. Embassy in Afghanistan in a scandal over sexual hazing and lewd behavior, the State Department said on Thursday.

A federal whistle-blower lawsuit filed on Thursday against ArmorGroup North America charged that the firm contracted to protect the embassy had ignored brothel visits by guardsmen, sexual hazing and other misconduct because of what a lawyer said was a "myopic preoccupation with profit."

The lawsuit by ArmorGroup North America's former director of operations, James Gordon, was the second time in as many weeks the Virginia-based firm has come under fire for its performance in a five-year, $187 million contract with the State Department.

A watchdog report on Sept. 1 charged that ArmorGroup jeopardized security at the embassy by chronically understaffing the facility and ignoring lewd, drunken conduct and sexual hazing by some guards.

The report by the Project on Government Oversight included photos of naked men dancing near a bonfire at their camp and urinating on each other while colleagues snapped photos. A video showed men pouring alcohol down the bare backside of a new recruit and drinking it as it spilled from his buttocks.

Spokesman P.J. Crowley said investigators had interviewed more than 150 people over the past week in connection with the watchdog's allegations. Eight guards were removed, four resigned of their own accord, two managers were dismissed and two others left voluntarily, he said.

"The State Department continues to fully investigate allegations regarding ArmorGroup," Crowley said. "We have aggressively overseen this contract since it was awarded in March of 2007 and went into force in July of 2007."


Reuters

Last Mod: 11 Eylül 2009, 16:36
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