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State Department drops contractor involved in Embassy Kabul scandal

State Department drops contractor involved in Embassy Kabul scandal

The State Department is ending the contract for ArmorGroup, the protective services firm whose employees in Afghanistan were caught in a sexually tinged hazing and misconduct scandal earlier this year.

Several Armorgroup employees guarding the U.S. Embassy compound in Kabul were fired in September after photos of guards performing "deviant sexual acts" as part of an apparent hazing ritual were revealed by the Project on Government Oversight, a Washington watchdog group.

State Department spokesman Mark Toner told The Cable that the State Department has informed ArmorGroup that the company will not be awarded the next year-long option on its contract when the current option expires in June. ArmorGroup will receive a six-month extension to allow State to compete for a replacement.

"A senior-level review of the recent misconduct allegations against AGNA [ArmorGroup] personnel, combined with AGNA’s history of contract compliance deficiencies, have led the Department’s Office of Acquisitions Management, the Bureau of Diplomatic Security, and Embassy Kabul to conclude that it is in the best interests of the government to compete a new contract," said Toner.

POGO was originally alerted to the hazing incident by 30 separate whistleblowers. Since breaking the news, the organization has been all over the case, sending a letter to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, protesting retaliation against one of the whistleblowers, and testifying before the Commission on Wartime Contracting, an independent commission established by Congress that has called State Department officials to answer for the scandal.

POGO’s Executive Director Danielle Brian offered guarded praise of the State Department’s decision to eventually end the contract.

"The State Department seems to be holding this embassy security contractor accountable," she told The Cable. "But State will need a real culture change before it can provide adequate oversight of these complex and challenging contracts."

Armorgroup sent an email to its employees Monday informing them of the decision. The Cable has obtained a copy.

"Changing out contractors is primarily a political decision based on the unfortunate and embarrassing events that occurred here several months ago," wrote Frank Schaddelee, deputy project manager at Camp Sullivan in Kabul, where the abuses took place. "There are serious consequences when things like that happen."