On August 4, rockets land near the U.S. Embassy in Kabul. On August 15, a suicide bomber hits close by killing or wounding 98. The attacks punctuate the dangers faced by hundreds of American diplomats and staff who work there. Yet some of the Embassy's own security guards are alleging shocking work conditions that put American lives at risk.
In numerous e-mails, the guards describe a crisis in discipline and morale, understaffing, sleep deprivation, "threats and intimidation." One guard refers to a group of guards and supervisors from the security contractor ArmorGroup as "sexual predators, deviants running rampant."
Guards provided dozens of graphic photos and videos depicting shocking scenes of hazing and humiliation by superiors, most of them too lewd to show. The guards recount a climate of fear and coercion where those who refuse to participate are retaliated against, even fired.
The State Department contracts with a private security firm - ArmorGroup North America, owned by Wackenhut. ArmorGroup employs 450 guards at the Kabul Embassy - two-thirds from Nepal and India, the rest from the U.S. and other English-speaking nations. Fifteen guards have brought their concerns about embassy security to the watchdog group Project on Government Oversight, reports CBS News investigative correspondent Sharyl Attkisson.
"These people have to rely on and trust each other for their lives, and you have a total breakdown in that trust, a complete breakdown in the command structure," said Danielle Brian, with the Project on Government Oversight.
Records show the State Department has warned the ArmorGroup about security problems for at least two years, yet renewed its contract as recently as July.
"What you have is sort of a predatory mentality where you've got supervisors that are humiliating the new recruits coming in," Brian said.
More about the U.S. Embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan:
Images of alleged hazing (Graphic Content)
Graphic Content: Additional video of Kabul hazing
Group: U.S. Embassy security in Kabul risky
Letter to Sec. Clinton describing abuses (.pdf)
Tuesday, a State Department spokesman seemed at a loss to explain, but promised a full investigation.
"These are extremely serious questions that you're asking," said Ian Kelly. "The security of our colleagues serving overseas is an extremely, extremely serious matter."
Whackenhut, told CBS News it won't have a comment until Wednesday. In the meantime, Sen. Claire McCaskill has called on the State Department to open an investigation into its contract with the firm.
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