Monday, November 18, 2013

Contractor Supporting Insurgents in Afghanistan Granted Access to Coalition Facilities

    In a November 8 letter to Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel, the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) warned that a contractor that had been identified with the insurgency had been granted access to a Coalition facility last November, and that the threat of further access by such contractors remains.  SIGAR uncovered the information while conducting an investigation of the structural defects at the Parwan Justice Center, a new courthouse being jointly constructed by the State and Defense Departments.  The letter reads in part:
Evidence obtained by SIGAR indicates that a contractor identified by the CENTCOM Commander as supporting the insurgency in Afghanistan gained access to a Coalition-controlled facility. This security lapse seems to have been caused by gaps in how contractor information is shared by U.S. government agencies supporting the reconstruction effort. Unless immediate action is taken to correct this matter, this contractor and other supporters of the insurgency could continue to gain access to U.S.- and Coalition-controlled facilities in Afghanistan...
Evidence obtained by SIGAR indicates that for two days in November 2012, employees of ZMTL were given access to the Parwan Justice Center complex.2 However, these individuals should not have had access to a Coalition-controlled facility, because the U.S. government determined as early as April 2012, that the Zurmat Group poses a threat to U.S. and Coalition forces.  
Specifically, on April 27, 2012, the Department of Commerce added the Zurmat Group and ZMTL to its Entity List3 because of their involvement in “networks that provide components used to make improvised explosive devices (IEDs) used against U.S. and coalition troops in Afghanistan.”
     To date, the U.S. Army has rejected all 43 of SIGAR's requests that insurgent-supporting contractors, including Zurmat, be subjected to debarment from future work on coalition projects.  The Army has rejected these requests on concerns that debarment would "violate their due process rights under the U.S. Constitution."  SIGAR believes this is a "flawed approach", and that "until action is taken on all 43 insurgency-related cases SIGAR has referred to the Army for debarment, the safety of our troops could still be at risk and U.S. government funds could be diverted to supporters of the insurgency."

Note: A version of this article appeared first at The Weekly Standard.

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