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A Project Of Government Oversight (POGO) report out today reveals some troubling allegations about security contractors in Afghanistan.The report details a lawsuit that alleges British security contractor Aegis asked contractors at the US Embassy in Kabul to lie about their weekly work hours in order to keep from hiring more personnel.
Some Afghan contractors ended up working 14- to 18-hour days without extra pay, according to the lawsuit.
The report includes a State Department memo, with the name redacted, which indicates that the contractors were on the edge of a “mutiny” that “put the security of the Embassy at risk.”
From the report:
Last July, dozens of guards signed a petition submitted to Aegis and the State Department expressing a vote of no confidence in three guard force leaders. Soon after that, two guards who helped organise the petition were fired in what they said was retaliation for their whistle-blowing.
Four of the contractors have brought the $5 million civil suit in Virginia.
This is not the first time a British security firm has seen scrutiny for questionable practices.
In the wake of the Benghazi consulate attacks, investigators found that local security guards worked long hours for little pay under the Blue Mountain Group. The company allegedly paid their workers $4 an hour, according to internal documents found at the site. They also employed casual screening practices — with some employees telling Reuters they had never once picked up a weapon in their lives and had received little training from the company prior to taking post.
The guards later came under fire for abandoning their posts in the face of an impending attack. The result was, as everyone knows, four dead Americans and a huge firestorm.
In Kabul, one contractors account sounds eerily like the situation on the ground in Libya that day — from POGO:
“[I]f we ever got seriously hit [by terrorists], there is no doubt in my mind the guard force here would not be able to handle it, and mass casualties and mayhem would ensue,” a guard serving at the embassy wrote in a late November message to POGO.
Kabul has seen a recent spate of coordinated, violent attacks, despite being out of fighting season.
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