Afghanistan: vodka "butt shots," group fondling, other pastimes of defense contractors guarding US embassy

Despite grotestque bacchanals that would make a True Blood maenad blush, some crazy, sadistic sickos guarding the US embassy in Kabul got their 5-year, 189 million dollar contract renewed for another year. The company involved: ArmorGroup North America (a subsidiary of Wackenhut, which is in turn owned by the security behemoth G4S). Your tax dollars at work, folks. Snip from Mother Jones article by Daniel Schulman:
Guards have come to POGO with allegations and photographic evidence that some supervisors and guards are engaging in near-weekly deviant hazing and humiliation of subordinates. Witnesses report that the highest levels of AGNA management in Kabul are aware of and have personally observed--or even engaged in--these activities, but have done nothing to stop them. Indeed, management has condoned this misconduct, declining to take disciplinary action against those responsible and allowing two of the worst offending supervisors to resign and allegedly move on to work on other U.S. contracts. The lewd and deviant behavior of approximately 30 supervisors and guards has resulted in complete distrust of leadership and a breakdown of the chain of command, compromising security.

Numerous emails, photographs, and videos portray a Lord of the Flies environment. One email from a current guard describes scenes in which guards and supervisors are "peeing on people, eating potato chips out of [buttock] cracks, vodka shots out of [buttock] cracks (there is video of that one), broken doors after drnken [sic] brawls, threats and intimidation from those leaders participating in this activity...." Photograph after photograph shows guards--including supervisors--at parties in various stages of nudity, sometimes fondling each other. These parties take place just a few yards from the housing of other supervisors.

Animal House in Afghanistan (Mother Jones)

See also: Contractors Gone Wild, an article from 2008 about similar behavior from KBR employees in 2008. (Mother Jones)

Related: POGO Letter to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton regarding U.S. Embassy in Kabul (Project on Government Oversight)


  1. The prison industrial complex at business as usual. When will we stop outsourcing to this inevitable conclusion? When will we halt profiting off the the subjugation and misery of others?

  2. peeing on people?
    eating potato chips out of butt cracks?
    vodka shots out of butt cracks?

    sounds like they’ve repealed Don’t Ask / Don’t Tell.

  3. They saw all the media attention that Blackwater/Xe was getting and decided to up their game. This can only end one way: the Pinkerton Agency staging an all-singing, all-dancing community theater version of Caligula.

  4. This is exactly why we must keep our armed forces under the thumb of the UCJ. And to claim that these are private contractors and not our armed forces you are wrong.
    These men and woman bear arms in and around a combat zone protecting (at least in this case) the US embassy. I seem to recall that job being so important that we could only trust the Marines to do it.
    There is a parallel here to the current Healthcare debate. Privitization vs government run systems. Or in the FOX vernacular Socialism.
    The point is some things are too important to be left up to for profit entities.
    And in this case it is our armed forces. If we need the bodies to continue to prosecute the war and to protect our diplomatic interests, then it is time to draft the best and brightest again. but to put this duty to the whims of a board room reeks of disaster.
    If these for profit boys and girls want to go play soldier, then put on a fucking uniform and take responsibility for your actions.

  5. “then put on a fucking uniform and take responsibility for your actions.” the irony being that a uniform absolves you of murder.

  6. Marcel@~4: Oh? So fucking with the prisoners is ok in your book? Last I heard there were laws against cruel and unusual punishment. Maybe you should spend some time in a cell and get regularly mistreated as described. Perhaps your opinion then would be more informed.

    Erict@~10: Indeed.

  7. Phikus,
    These aren’t prison guards. These are contractors guarding an embassy. They are presumably doing all of this stuff to each other, not to prisoners.

    Certainly not professional behavior, but if these contractors want to fuck with each other in a war zone, I’m not going to be too overly critical…

  8. #11
    Murder is defined as unjustified homicide. EG thou shall not kill is really thou shall not murder.
    soldiers kill sometimes we are justified in sending them off to do so. Sometimes not. The bottom line is that the soldier cannot be accountable for killing in a combat zone unless it killing was agregious EG picking off innocent bystanders that are trying to get out of harms way VS picking off combatants.
    Sure the line gets blurry and crossed but that is the reason for the military structure and chain of command.
    Peace would be better. It is always better. But that simply is not the case over there and to exacerbate the situation by putting our weapons in the hands of mercenaries is fool hardy.
    There is no way to hold any of them accountable for misbehavior.
    At least there is a chance of holding the leaders of our military accountable for thier misbehavior. Small as that may seem at times. Military justice is pretty harsh. It is what instills discipline.

  9. My mistake. I see the name Wackenhut and I see red after the fun my friend had under their “care”, which resembled these shenanigans (urination and beatings.) I see now that it is a part of their work culture. Sad.

    My apologies to Marcel (though I disagree this as medal-worthy.)

  10. Dean Vernon Wormer: Greg, what is the worst private security contractor in Kabul?

    Greg Marmalard: Well that would be hard to say, sir. They’re each outstanding in their own way.

    Dean Vernon Wormer: Cut the horseshit, son. I’ve got their disciplinary files right here. Who dropped a whole truckload of fizzies into the swim meet? Who delivered the medical school cadavers to the alumni dinner? Every Halloween, the trees are filled with underwear. Every spring, the toilets explode.

    Greg Marmalard: You’re talking about Wackenhut, sir.

    Dean Vernon Wormer: Of course I’m talking about Wackenhut, you TWERP!

  11. This is actually a brilliant smokescreen, someone at their company figured out that if they engage in some fraternity style bullshit it will completely distract people from any real issue. The american popular culture will obsess over a vodka butt shot to the expense of investigating real problems every time.

    What they drink and from where is the least of my concern with these bozos.

  12. It seems anytime humans are put into a walled compound with opaque public oversight, the “Stanford Experiment” is almost always repeated.

  13. War in general would be considerably less abhorent if the people involved treated what was happening with an ounce respect – an understanding that their very presence may be blurring lines of morals and ethics.

    Not: hey, we’re at war, vodka butt shots! Lets touch each others cocks!

    Anon at 23 has the saddest point about all of this: it’s more frivilous BS to distract from more important issues. Such as: Why private contractors have no place doing ANY external defense work (or internal, but keep the corruption within your country and I won’t comment.)

  14. Outsourcing is really a way to make sure that no one is held accountable for how well a job is done. Everyone gets paid, but no one’s responsible.

  15. Isn’t the real point here that it’s not consensual? That the vodka shots and fondling are a form of hazing and qualify as harassment? I’d guess there would be more than few lawsuits if this were taking place in the U.S.

  16. As a defense contractor who has deployed to Kuwait and Iraq 8 times since 2003 with over 2 years in theater I find this appalling nor have I ever witnessed anything like it.

    Defense contractors do fall under UCMJ while in theater. Perhaps since these Bozos work for the embassy they loophole out of it but I doubt it.

    I would like to point out that this is not even close to the norm. Defense contractors tend to be skilled, hardworking, and disciplined. American contractors are almost exclusively prior service military most who have retired after honored service. While not perfect, we serve at the whim of the service and at any dissatisfaction with our performance or behavior on the part of the military can and will be asked to leave the country (and almost certainly our employment) in a very expeditious manner. I just wanted to point out that this is an aberration and not the norm.

  17. The hazing and photos of hazing is so these guys can be blackmailed into doing things they shouldn’t be doing.

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