“Soft despotism is a term coined by Alexis de Tocqueville describing the state into which a country overrun by "a network of small complicated rules" might degrade. Soft despotism is different from despotism (also called 'hard despotism') in the sense that it is not obvious to the people."

Friday, October 08, 2010

Taliban and Criminals Guarding US Bases in Afghanistan. Pentagon to Set Up "Task Force" to Study.

Inquiry Finds Guards at U.S. Bases Are Tied to Taliban

NY Times
WASHINGTON — Afghan private security forces with ties to the Taliban, criminal networks and Iranian intelligence have been hired to guard American military bases in Afghanistan, exposing United States soldiers to surprise attack and confounding the fight against insurgents, according to a Senate investigation.

The Pentagon’s oversight of the Afghan guards is virtually nonexistent, allowing local security deals among American military commanders, Western contracting companies and Afghan warlords who are closely connected to the violent insurgency, according to the report by investigators on the staff of the Senate Armed Services Committee.

The United States military has almost no independent information on the Afghans guarding the bases, who are employees of Afghan groups hired as subcontractors by Western firms awarded security contracts by the Pentagon. At one large American airbase in western Afghanistan, military personnel did not even know the names of the leaders of the Afghan groups providing base security, the investigators found. So they used the nicknames that the contractor was using — Mr. White and Mr. Pink from “Reservoir Dogs,” the 1992 gangster movie by Quentin Tarantino. Mr. Pink was later determined to be a “known Taliban” figure, they reported.

In another incident, the United States military bombed a house where it was believed that a Taliban leader was holding a meeting, only to discover later that the house was owned by an Afghan security contractor to the American military, who was meeting with his nephew — the Taliban leader.

Some Afghans hired by EOD Technology, which was awarded a United States Army contract to provide security at a training center for Afghan police officers in Adraskan, near Shindand, were also providing information to Iran, the report asserted. The Senate committee said it received intelligence from the Defense Intelligence Agency about Afghans working for EOD, and that the reporting found that some of them “have been involved in activities at odds with U.S. interests in the region.”

The Senate Armed Services Committee adopted the report by a unanimous vote, although Republican members issued a statement critical of the report for too narrowly focusing on case studies in western Afghanistan.

In response to the Senate report, Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates issued a letter saying that the Pentagon recognized the problems and has created new task forces to help overhaul contracting procedures in Afghanistan. "Through the new programs we have implemented, I believe D.O.D. has taken significant steps to benefit our forces on the ground while not providing aid to our enemies," Mr. Gates wrote.

The latest disclosures follow a series of reports, including articles in The New York Times and testimony before a House committee, describing bribes paid by contractors to the Taliban and other warlords to make sure supply convoys for the American military were provided safe passage.

But the Senate report goes further, spelling out the close relations between some contractors and the forces arrayed against the Kabul government and the Americans, and saying that the proliferation of contractors in the country is sometimes fueling the very insurgency that the military is there to combat. It names a few of the contracting companies, and uses one base as a case study, but calls the problems it identified pervasive.

“We must shut off the spigot of U.S. dollars flowing into the pockets of warlords and power brokers who act contrary to our interests,” said Senator Carl Levin, the Michigan Democrat who is the committee’s chairman.

“There are truly some outrageous allegations here, and it’s a wake-up call that we have to get a better handle on contractors in Afghanistan and ensure that taxpayer dollars don’t end up in the hands of the enemy,” said Richard Fontaine, a senior fellow at the Center for a New American Security, a Washington research group.

There are more than 26,000 private security employees in Afghanistan, and 90 percent of them are working under United States government contracts or subcontracts. Almost all are tied to the militias of local warlords and other powerful Afghan figures outside the control of the American military or the Afghan government, the report found.

The contracting firms are now hiring active-duty members of the Afghan military and security forces, the investigators found, further undermining the efforts by the United States to help Afghanistan build a stronger military that can take on the Taliban insurgency on its own.

The Senate report focuses heavily on security contracting at remote American military bases in western Afghanistan, including the air base in Shindand, near Herat. ArmorGroup, a British-based security firm, was hired by a contractor to the United States Air Force to provide security at Shindand, and then ArmorGroup turned in 2007 to two warlords who had their own militias to do the actual security work. ArmorGroup called them “Mr. White” and “Mr. Pink,” and few Americans knew their real identities, although a leader of an American military team at an adjacent base had recommended Mr. Pink.

“The two warlords and their successors served as manpower providers for ArmorGroup for the next 18 months — a period marked by a series of violent incidents,” the report found.

Fights soon erupted between the forces of Mr. White and Mr. Pink, with Mr. Pink finally killing Mr. White. Mr. Pink then sought refuge with the Taliban. ArmorGroup then turned to Mr. White’s brother, Mr. White II, to run its security force, but also continued to employ Mr. Pink’s men, even though they knew he was now working with the Taliban.

In a raid on Aug., 21, 2008, in Azizabad, Afghanistan, American forces bombed a house where a local Taliban leader, Mullah Sadeq, was suspected of holding a meeting. It was the home of Mr. White II; he was killed in the raid, along with seven other men employed as security guards by ArmorGroup or ArmorGroup Mine Action, an affiliated company with a contract with the United Nations for mine clearing.

The Azizabad raid sparked outrage within Afghanistan. Local villagers, human rights officials and Afghan government officials said that the attack had resulted in more than 90 civilian deaths. The raid had a broad impact on relations between the Afghan government and the American military, and was one of the major incidents that led to a reassessment by President Hamid Karzai of his support for American air raids in the country.

Mr. Karzai visited the village after the attack, and President George W. Bush called Mr. Karzai to express his regret. But the report shows that the bombing raid was entangled in the interplay between contractors and the Taliban, and occurred during a meeting between Mr. White II and the suspect Taliban leader, Mullah Sadeq.

Providing contracts to local militia leaders with ties to the Taliban “gives these warlords an independent funding source,” observed Carl Forsberg, an analyst with the Institute for the Study of War in Washington. “And it gives them a feeling of impunity.”


  1. Christ Almighty, deliver us from the genius that leads us.

    If this does not make your blood boil, go get a transfusion.

    This video is seven months old.

    Rufus may be right. The Taliban may be setting up the Pentagon for a Tet offensive.

  2. From 3 threads back:

    Taliban Allies, Warlord Flunkies Guard U.S. Bases

    Shah and Khan were odd choices for character references. Internal ArmorGroup documents discovered by the committee found references to them as “two feuding warlords” operating around the airbase. Even knowing their questionable character, ArmorGroup used the men it would dub “Mr. White” and “Mr. Pink” — it’s a Reservoir Dogs reference — to supply 30 men to guard Shindad, even though it claims to have never paid them directly. Within months, the guards were beefing amongst themselves and with Afghan security forces in the area, shooting off guns and threatening to kill one another.

    But all hell broke loose in December 2007, when Mr. Pink murdered Mr. White in a gun battle at a local bazaar, shooting him in the head, the side and the hip.

    “It was kind of like a mafia thing,” an employee for ECC told committee staff. “If you rub somebody out, you’ll get a bigger piece of the pie.” But even though ArmorGroup wrote memos expressing concern about the safety of the base in the wake of the killing, it struck a deal with Shah’s brothers, called “Mr. White II” and “Mr. White III” to provide more guards; a sister company holding a United Nations contract, ArmorGroup Mine Action, hired White II directly. Pink disappeared after the slaying. And within months, the military received reports that the White brothers supported the Taliban and that Pink was a “mid-level Taliban manager.”

    Yet none of the guards were ever fired.

  3. At least they provide entertainment for the troops:

    Mercs Gone Wild at U.S. Embassy Kabul (Updated, With Photos)

    According to evidence compiled by POGO, the misbehavior by guards includes
    “peeing on people,
    eating potato chips out of ass cracks,
    vodka shots out of ass cracks”
    and other fratboy-style antics.

    An e-mail from a whistleblower — posted on the POGO website — spells it out. “You will see that they have a group of sexual predators, deviants running rampant over there,” the whistleblower wrote. “No, they are not jamming guys in the ass per say [sic], but they are showing poor judgenment [sic].”

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  5. More brilliance:

    The Hawaiian Islands, which lack pro sports teams, are literally off the radar screen for many Americans.
    In the wake of the tsunami warnings issued for the islands after the devastating earthquake in Chile in February, even CNN anchor Rick Sanchez could not locate the islands on a map, instead pointing to the Galapagos, an Ecuadorian possession several hundred nautical miles to the southeast.

    The fact the Hawaii appears to float in a box next to the lower 48 American states on maps has made the location of the archipelago all the more inscrutable for the U.S.' geographically-challenged populace.

  6. I have watched some of these US citizen, ex-security contractors show up in Costa Rica. You can hear them before you see them, can't miss them when you do see them and to a man are scum.

    This is what we send to teach the wogs democracy.

  7. Funny stuff, the US military is to busy or self-important to pull guard duty, itself.

    Such professionalism.

    Bring back the draft.
    Get "Real Americans" back in military uniform, the quality of soldiers and their leadership would improve and the value to the US taxpayer, increased.

    The experiment with the large "professional" standing Army has run its course, it has proven to be very costly and not very productive.

    Not a single "win", outside of Granada and Panama, a country we were occupying while also invading it.

    The twenty year campaign in Iraq, a proven failure of US military capacity to gain a decisive victory, even after defeating the Iraqi Army, twice, on the battle field.

    Winning battles, losing wars, the hallmark of the professional US military.

  8. More proof, as if any more were needed, to show us that Islam is not a monolitihic political force.

    It is not even a monolithic religion. It is even more fractured and less cohesive as a social engine than the other Abrahamic religions, Christianity and Judaism.

    KABUL, Oct. 8 (Xinhua) -- Mohammad Omar, governor of northern Afghanistan's Kunduz province, and 12 others were killed in a suicide attack Friday, a governmental official told Xinhua.

  9. .
    The fact the Hawaii appears to float in a box next to the lower 48 American states on maps has made the location of the archipelago all the more inscrutable for the U.S.' geographically-challenged populace.


    Great observation Doug.

    I've thought the box was just some strangely shaped barrier reef and wondered why it took so long to fly there.


  10. This comment has been removed by the author.

  11. .
    Bring back the draft.
    Get "Real Americans" back in military uniform, the quality of soldiers and their leadership would improve and the value to the US taxpayer, increased.

    I have to agree with rat, though not for the specific reasons he suggest.

    The transition to the new smaller, rapidly mobile strike force will be irreversible for some time to come. Fascination with the concept is one of the things that mesmerized Rumsfeld and sapped his effectiveness in the early years of the Iraq war. The top brass all seem to have bought into the concept. Boys and their toys. And it can be terribly effective for attacking trouble spots (although it seems to to be ill-suited to the "long war" where specific shortcomings become evident.)

    It also has political appeal. It's volunteer. You can pick from the best, the most "qualified" although this advantage too degrades over time.

    You can send in a measely 30,000 as a "surge". The fact that you have to send in the same amount as support a good portion of which are contract hires goes unnoticed. (The fact that many of the contractors are the scum of the earth or that we accept thugs and murderers as allies is a political issue that wouldn't be affected by the draft vs. volunteer issue.)

    No, the reason I agree with rat on the draft is that the public at large would finally have a real stake in the game. It would remove any vaneer of sanitation for the war. The costs of war would no longer just be pieces of paper printed up by Treasury.

    I believe it would severely restrict the amount of long wars we get into.


  12. Cut and paste brilliance, Quirk:
    Great description of the floating box tho.

  13. Get us off oil. Secure the borders.

  14. Dr Hiss said...
    More proof, as if any more were needed, to show us that Islam is not a monolitihic political force.

    Dr Hiss, the Bar's avowed Islam defender, sets up his own arguments to win...

    He states: More proof, as if any more were needed, to show us that Islam is not a monolitihic political force.

    Notice how no one at the BAR ever has SAID those words?

    He creates arguments that will show Islam in a good light.

    He also is a know Israel hater, his handle is a sly way of being an anti-semite.

    He will argue up on side of the street and down the other about nonsense to prove to any that wander in here that Islam (and arabs) are a gracious and loving people...

    Hell,, I bet he'd even tell us that Hitler loved his dogs...

    And he should know...

    His father was killed in the Holocaust... Fell from a guard tower....

    Dr Hiss/aka Desert Rat aka Panama Ed aka (who the fuck knows) is a troll. Beware he posts in spurts of rational discourse with stretches of Nazi-like hatred of Israel...

    Right now? he is trying to sound as "American" as he can...

    GIve him an inch...

  15. Anyone hear the Glenn Beck meltdown? I stopped listening to him when he started to take himself seriously, but I caught him this morning and he has gone over the edge.

  16. I agree with the need for a draft, and while we are add it, add the TSA to the Coast Guard.

  17. "At it"

    I am using a very aggressive spell checker. It anticipates my moves.

  18. I just voted my wife's absentee ballot.

    We have no political arguments in this family.

  19. I/she voted for the Basque for Secretary of our Fair State.

    We have a tradition of Basques running our Sec of State office.

    They have done a fine, honest job of it for decades.

    Up by Hailey/ Sun Valley coming home, there was the festival of the herding of the sheep through the towns.

    An old tradition.

    I'd love to post a picture of the Hotel Nevada but don't have the ability to do it.

  20. hint hint hint hint

    I could e-mail it to the management

    Title of thread

    Your favorite building

    off to see my engineer who forced my vacation to an early demise

    I need to start taking planes, that way I'll get to where I'm going

  21. Told you all that it was too damned hot for that record corn forecast the USDA was pushing. They dropped it, today, by about 5%.

    "Limit Up," Everywhere.