Who Knew?

by Joshua Foust on 9/2/2009 · 1 comment

Ahh yes, the Project on Government Oversight’s accusatory letter to Secretary Clinton for the years of allegations about contractor misconduct at the American embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan. I for one didn’t realize the Embassy threw parties like Snaxx on a Thursday night. I can’t say I find the prospect of slurping vodka out of some dude’s butt crack particularly appealing, but whatever—frat boys, right? I mean, right down to the hazing (those who chose not to participate were barricaded in their rooms), it’s kind of ridiculous and head-shaking, but not 100% outrageous, considering some of the other ex-patriate behavior in Kabul.

The part that gives me serious pause, however, is this:

An Afghan national employed as a food service worker at the guard corps’ base at Camp Sullivan submitted a signed statement dated August 16, 2009, attesting that a guard force supervisor and four others entered a dining facility on August 1, 2009, wearing only short underwear and brandishing bottles of alcohol. Upon leaving the facility, the guard force supervisor allegedly grabbed the Afghan national by the face and began abusing him with foul language, saying, “You are very good for fXXXing.” The Afghan national reported that he “was too afraid of them I could not tell them any thing.”

Right. So, the problem is, it’s one thing when you behave boorishly toward your own people on your own compound—worth investigating and punishing, to be sure, but not an international incident. It’s another entirely when you bring the locals into it and threaten them with rape. Male or female, that is inexcusable, and should result in the immediate termination of that guard supervisor, and if there is evidence any of the contractors or government CORs ignored the problem, they should be fired as well.

Of course it won’t happen that way. The quick corrective action and sincere apology that could turn this into a non-issue will instead turn into a months-long hand wringing gesture about the goodness of our contractors and their necessity to the mission. Sigh. The State Department has been “investigating” the guards in question for a little over two years now. Nothing happened, and nothing probably will.

I can’t imagine why we’re doing so poorly there.

(And no, I’m not re-posting any of those pictures, but Gawker is the perfect link-fodder for this story.)

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This post was written by...

– author of 1848 posts on 17_PersonNotFound.

Joshua Foust is a Fellow at the American Security Project and the author of Afghanistan Journal: Selections from Registan.net. His research focuses primarily on Central and South Asia. Joshua is a correspondent for The Atlantic and a columnist for PBS Need to Know. Joshua appears regularly on the BBC World News, Aljazeera, and international public radio. Joshua's writing has appeared in the Columbia Journalism Review, Foreign Policy’s AfPak Channel, the New York Times, Reuters, and the Christian Science Monitor. Follow him on twitter: @joshuafoust

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{ 1 comment }

M Shannon September 3, 2009 at 4:55 am

One of the cleverest policies of the US military has been the ban on booze and social contact with normal Afghans. If the troops were allowed down to the bazaar with a load on we’d have had full scale Jihad by now. The NATO force in Afghanistan is most likely the best behaved army ever to fight a war and we are very lucky it is.

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