Special Reports
More contract abuses and perversion highlighted by ex-security contractors in Kabul
By Wayne Madsen
Online Journal Contributing Writer

Sep 14, 2009, 00:20

(WMR) -- At a September 10 press conference at the National Press Club in Washington, two former managers for ArmorGroup North America (AGNA), headquartered in McLean, Virginia and a subsidiary of ArmorGroup International (AGI), revealed a litany of contract fraud and abuse charges against AGNA and AGI and provided further details of sexual deviancy among AGNA security guards in Kabul tasked with protecting the U.S. embassy.

ArmorGroup is now owned by Wackenhut Services, Inc., headquartered in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida. The two former employees are suing AGNA, AGI, Wackenhut, and Corporation Service Company for wrongful termination, false claims, and conspiracy.

John Gorman, a retired Marine Corps veteran who was the camp manager at the security guard force�s Camp Sullivan, blew the whistle on contract non-performance, security pitfalls, and sexual deviancy, and was placed under virtual house arrest in June 2007 by AGNA�s top manager in Kabul, Michael O�Connell, and flown out of the country. Gorman was terminated and confined for some 24 hours, along with two other AGNA managers, James Sauer, a retired Marine sergeant major and Pete Martino, a retired Marine colonel, who filed complaints to both AGNA and the Regional Security Office (RSO) for the U.S. embassy in Kabul, also Marine Corps veterans. Because they told the RSO they feared for their personal safety after bringing the charges against AGNA, he offered them the security of his apartment on the embassy compound, which they turned down only to later have their cell phones and weapons confiscated by AGNA and being confined before their flight out of the country.

Gorman said no one at AGNA �ever mentioned or indicated a concern for the actual security at the embassy -- the greatest and only concerns were the profit margin and the bottom line.� Gorman said the project manager for the security contract, Sauer, a man with 35 years of experience as a 30-year career Marine with private security contractor experience in Iraq and Afghanistan, was �ignored, second guessed, and rejected.� Sauer had vehemently objected to allowing security personnel to be deployed to Kabul who had engaged in �lewd and deviant behavior� during their subcontractor training in Texas.

After Gorman, Sauer, and Martino made their complaints known to McConnell, the corporate executive replied that ArmorGroup was a publicly traded company and could, therefore, not hire more people �because he had a responsibility to the shareholders.�

The effect was the hiring of clearly unqualified personnel for the security guard force. Gorman said that there were people hired as guards who had �no DD214s, driver�s licenses, passports,� including one person who had been fired from a previous security project for pulling a pistol on another employee while drunk.

AGNA, according to Gorman, covered up the security contract failures because the firm was �to assume the $187 million a year security contract for the American embassy in Kabul in less than two weeks and they were bidding on the more lucrative $500 million contract for the U.S. embassy in Baghdad.

James Gordon, a New Zealand citizen and New Zealand Army veteran who is married to an American, worked for ArmorGroup Iraq as the operations manager, a subsidiary of AGI, also spoke about corporate malfeasance involving AGNA. He later became the business development director for AGNA headquarters in McLean. In 2007, Gordon took over as operations director for the Kabul embassy security contract and attempted to bring the contract into compliance with State Department requirements. Eventually, Gordon was forced out of the company because instead of correcting contract violations the firm�s only goal was to �maximize profits.�

Gordon said among AGNA security personnel were unqualified personnel, some of whom had serious criminal records. Some guard recruits had engaged in �disgusting behavior� during their initial training at AGI�s subsidiary�s training facility, International Training Inc. (ITI) of Pearsall, Texas. Sauer, Martino, and Gorman had received reports that some of the AGNA recruits, while undergoing pre-deployment in Texas, had engaged in �lewd, aberrant, and sexually deviant behavior, including sexual hazing, urination on one another and equipment, bullying, �mooning,�� exposing themselves, excessive drinking, and other conduct making themselves unfit for service on the contract.

The AGNA employees who were later forced out of the company attempted to ensure that the trainees in Texas never arrived in Kabul. Several email exchanges (�e-pong�) show they tried to block the sexual deviants from duty in Kabul.

AGNA also misrepresented ethnic Nepalese Gurkha farmers hired as security guards for the Kabul embassy job as Gurkha military veterans of the British and Indian armies. In fact. the Gurkha farmers hired from Nepal and northern India were not proficient in English as required under the State Department contract. In fact, some could speak no English. The language test had never been administered to the Gurkha recruits.

When some Gurkha guards walked off their jobs in May 2007 because of poor wages and treatment, Carol Ruart, AGI�s human resources director in London, ordered AGNA management in Kabul to �lock [the Gurkhas] in their rooms until they agree to work for less.�

Gordon also stated that AGNA never invested in secure vehicles to transport embassy guards between the embassy and other locations. AGNA used broken down vehicles called �white coffins.� After the State Department released funds to AGNA to buy secure vehicles, the firm never bought the vehicles but transferred the money to AGI in London.

AGNA also hired a �rogue� South African program manager for the embassy contract in Kabul, according to Gordon. DuPlessis replaced Sauer. Jimmy Lemmon replaced Martino as deputy program manager. During the tenure of the South African, Nick duPlessis, ammunition went missing from Camp Sullivan where the guards were bivouacked and illegal weapons were stored at the facility. Moreover, duPlessis did not possess a security clearance to receive classified briefings, a requirement for the program manager position.

In addition, Gordon stated that the AGNA logistics manager, Sean Garcia, used contract funds to purchase counterfeit North Face and Altama jackets and boots for the security guards from his wife�s company in Lebanon, Trends General Trading and Marketing LLC of Beirut. Gordon said, �the cheap knock-offs could never keep the men warm during the cold winters in Afghanistan.� After Gordon notified the State Department about the contract breach, the order to remove him was ignored and the State Department continues to own sub-par counterfeit material.

Gordon sent an email dated September 3, 2007 to duPlessis and his staff in Kabul.

Gordon also said that the AGNA armorer in Kabul, responsible for maintaining all the weapons, had to be �forcibly removed� from a brothel in Kabul. Many of the prostitutes working in Kabul, according to Gordon, are young Chinese girls who were taken against their will to Kabul for sexual exploitation. When Gordon ordered the armorer�s immediate termination, he discovered that the AGNA medic, Neville Montefiore, and duPlessis, the program manager, had also frequented the brothels with the armorer. Gordon also discovered that there had been an outbreak of sexually-transmitted diseases among the AGNA guards in 2007 and this was never reported to the State Department as required by the contract. Prostitutes also frequently visited Camp Sullivan. Gordon also discovered that the guard force routinely visited brothels in Kabul and Montefiore�s replacement discovered the improper storage of regulated narcotics at Camp Sullivan�s medical facility, including morphine.

�You can rest assured that there is no hiding of information from the DoS [Department of State]. Anyone who thinks that they can get away with this will probably end up in a Federal Penitentiary. It is our duty to report on all aspects of the contract performance and we are required to be transparent and honest in our dealings. Personally I wouldn�t accept anything else.�

Gordon�s plans to visit Kabul to conduct an investigation were immediately shut down by ArmorGroup�s parent office in London. Gordon said it is contrary to U.S. law for a foreign company to direct or influence any activities on a classified contract. Moreover, the British parent conducted their own investigation, which resulted in a three-page whitewash. Gordon was denied access to all information about AGI London�s investigation.

After the whitewash, Gordon received a report that an AGNA trainee wanted to be hired on as a security guard at the embassy in Kabul because he knew someone �who owned prostitutes there.� The trainee boasted that he could purchase a girl for $20,000 and earn a handsome profit each month. The trainee, according to Gordon, had previously worked in Kabul under duPlessis. Neither AGNA nor the State Department conducted a follow-up investigation of the violations of the U.S. Trafficking in Victims Protection Act by AGNA employees. AGNA responded to Gordon�s warnings by blaming him for all the contract�s failures and he was forced to leave the firm on February 29, 2008.

After Wackenhut Services Inc. bought ArmorGroup, after Gordon left the company, he met with Sam Brinkley, the vice president of Wackenhut, to discuss the contract problems. Brinkley promised to remove duPlessis and investigate all the charges of misconduct. On June 10, 2009, Gordon was present during hearings held by Senator Claire McCaskill (D-MO). Gordon said that Brinkley and the State Department testified to McCaskill�s subcommittee on contracting oversight that AGNA was �fully compliant� on the security contract for the embassy in Kabul. Brinkley told the subcommittee that he �was proud� of the way the company had been managing the embassy security contract. Gordon said the situation at Camp Sullivan had worsened and the U.S. Embassy was facing a grave security threat.

McCaskill and ranking Republican member Susan Collins (R-ME) never heard testimony from any of the whistleblowers on AGNA�s poor security record in Kabul. The only witnesses heard were Brinkley and William Moser, the Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Logistics Management.

Brinkley, in addition to the U.S. Embassy in Kabul, has responsibility for the security contract for the U.S. Naval Support Activity in Bahrain, which, according to ex-AGNA sources, may be using untrained Gurkha farmers from the Indian subcontinent as crack veterans of the British and Indian armies.

The Gorman/Gordon lawsuit states that on October 10, 2007, the AGNA security force in Kabul was involved in a number of serious incidents, including:

  • detaining a group of Afghan civilians and involuntarily transporting them to the U.S. embassy;

  • verbally and physically engaging in an altercation with Afghan Ministry of Interior policemen and handcuffing the policemen;

  • confronting an Afghan general and several Ministry of Interior policemen;

  • refusing an order from the embassy RSO to withdraw from a checkpoint to defuse a potentially explosive situation.

The statements of the two ex-AGNA employees reveal a culture of depravity and unprofessional behavior that Gordon stated still exists to this very day in Kabul.

Previously published in the Wayne Madsen Report.

Copyright � 2009 WayneMadenReport.com

Wayne Madsen is a Washington, DC-based investigative journalist and nationally-distributed columnist. He is the editor and publisher of the Wayne Madsen Report (subscription required).

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