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State Department Spokesman Reacts to ArmorGroup Lawsuit, Loses Grasp on Reality

P.J. Crowley, the State Department’s assistant secretary for public affairs, said in today’s press briefing that he wouldn’t speak to any specific allegation in the new ArmorGroup whistleblower lawsuit. But he did say, repeatedly, that the department has exercised rigorous oversight over the company that it’s paying $189 million to guard the embassy in Kabul. For instance:

And we feel very strongly that our oversight has been aggressive. It began in the early stages of the contract. Why is that? It’s because we’ve set a high bar for this particular contract in this particular environment. The contract in Kabul, the static guard contract in Kabul, like the similar arrangement in Baghdad, these are unique circumstances. We have standing guards, local hires, guarding all of our facilities around the world, but in this particular case, the unique situations where our facilities are in the middle of conflict zones, and we have taken aggressive actions simply because we understood the threat to our personnel and our facilities in Kabul.

What? Yes, the State Department issued, as Crowley reminded reporters, “nine cure notices for a variety of issues, ranging from the number of people at a particular guard station to the language proficiency of particular guards in critical places.” But that’s not exculpatory. After all, the State Department last year rehired ArmorGroup, despite its proven record of repeatedly reprimanding the company for potentially contract-breaching violations.

It was already clear that State has had a long and checkered history with contracting for security of the Kabul embassy. Today’s revelations make it even clearer. How could State brag about chiding ArmorGroup over and over while re-awarding a negligent company such a lucrative contract?

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