Suit: Guard Firm Left U.S. Embassy in Kabul Vulnerable

Former employees allege security firm defrauded the U.S. to win $187M contract.

ByABC News
April 23, 2008, 7:28 PM

April 23, 2008— -- Two former employees of the private firm in charge of handling security at the U.S. Embassy in Kabul say they were fired after raising concerns about the safety at the embassy and for sharing their concerns with the State Department.

They plan to file a lawsuit tomorrow alleging that their employer won the $187 million contract only after it significantly overstated its capabilities and the experience of its staff.

"This is a clear-cut case of corporate greed taking priority over national security concerns," said the attorney for the plaintiffs Debra Katz of the law firm Katz, Marshall, and Banks. The suit is also being filed by the Government Accountability Project.

The lawsuit is being filed against ArmorGroup North American (AGNA), based in Virginia, and ArmorGroup International (AGI) based in the United Kingdom.

The plaintiffs, James Sauer and Peter Martino, are both former Marines who say they have significant experience in providing security in hostile environments. Sauer and Martino say they repeatedly raised concerns with their employer about a number of issues, including the scheduling of the embassy guards. They claim that the long shifts that the guards were assigned weakened security by causing fatigue, burnout and attrition.

Sauer and Martino also allege that AGNA misrepresented their capabilities to the State Department when bidding for the contract. They say the firm falsely represented their local facility in Afghanistan as a full-service training facility. But Sauer and Martino say that in reality the facility did not have a firing range or the mechanical capabilities to service the embassy's fleet of armored transport vehicles.

The embassy has been the target of terror attacks previously. In September 2006, a suicide bomber attacked an American Humvee outside the facility killing 16 people, including two U.S. soldiers.