8 thoughts on “US mercenaries drunk, on drugs, in Afghanistan

  1. http://www.wtma.com/rssItem.asp?feedid=118&itemid=29927826

    Former US Contractor Says He Abused Drugs to Cope in Afghanistan

    ABC News(WASHINGTON) — An American security contractor in Afghanistan, who was caught on video so stoned that he couldn’t speak, told ABC News that the “nightmare” environment in which he felt trapped drove him to drugs.

    Kevin Carlson, a 41-year-old former Special Forces soldier, worked as a team medic in Kabul for Jorge Scientific, a major U.S. defense contractor tasked with protecting Americans in the war-torn city and the subject of a recent ABC News investigation.

    Despite the contractors’ crucial mission, Carlson said employees at Jorge Scientific repeatedly defied regulations and consumed copious amounts of alcohol and drugs at the contractor’s base of operations in Kabul — a complex Carlson likened to a “frat house” that became unbearable for him.

    “I don’t like airing my own dirty laundry, don’t like showing my own faults,” Carlson said. “But the story needs to be told… It was getting to be such a nightmare, just living in that place.”

    In the course of the ABC News investigation, other former employees provided cell phone video appearing to show key personnel staggeringly drunk or high on narcotics at the operations center in Kabul. Carlson is seen on that video in a daze and unable to respond to requests for help after injecting himself with Ketamine, a prescription anesthetic.

    The use of alcohol or illegal drugs by U.S. contractors in Afghanistan is prohibited by the military under what is known as General Order Number One and Jorge Scientific, the recipient of almost $1 billion in U.S. government contracts, says it has a “zero tolerance” policy. Carlson was fired earlier this year for violating that policy.

    But before he was let go, Carlson says drugs and alcohol were commonplace in the Jorge Scientific facility, in which employees were supposed to be ready 24/7 in case of attack.

    “There’s no way if we ever came under attack that they’d be able to do anything to protect or repel an invasion or an attack,” Carlson told ABC News.

    The cell phone video was shot by another former employee, Kenny Smith, who told ABC News he had gone to Carlson’s room at 2:30 a.m. to seek medical assistance for another employee. That employee had been drinking so much alcohol earlier in the evening, he was found choking on his own vomit.

    “Kevin, come on,” Smith pleads on the video, as he attempts to get Carlson to sit up. “Please snap out of it, dude.”

    The video shows a used syringe on the floor near Carlson’s bed. As Smith tries to rouse the medic, he tells him to pull his shirt sleeve down so as to hide the fresh needle mark. Carlson is heard slurring his speech, repeating what Smith tells him.

    “You’ve been playing in the candy jar again, man, and I’ve told you,” Smith tells Carlson.

    Carlson says the constant partying at the Jorge Scientific facility became too much for him to bear.

    “The longer I stayed there they kept drinking more. Doing more things that were not normal. Some just childish, dangerous things,” he said.

    He said he escaped by taking painkillers and anti-anxiety drugs, such as Percocet and Diazepam. As for the Ketamine he injected in his arm the night his medical skills were needed, he says it gave his mind “a mental break.”

    “I didn’t want to use alcohol because that impaired you for so long and you have the effects the next day. So I chose Ketamine. I would take the Ketamine every once in a while just to give my mind a break and escape from the reality that was actually going on.”

    According to Carlson, he wasn’t the only one abusing drugs. Other Jorge employees knew what the medic stocked and would “just come to my medicine cabinet and take it.” He says many of those contractors would mix the drugs with alcohol, which he says would intensify the high.

    Jorge Scientific said in a statement that it took “decisive action to correct the unacceptable behavior of a limited number of employees” and that several of them seen on the video are no longer employed by Jorge Scientific. It “remains confident that the personal misconduct did not impact the Company’s contract performance.”

    While the military is tasked with overseeing contractors in the region, Carlson says the only Army personnel he saw visit the Jorge facility came to join in on the partying.

    “We got a lot of Army soldiers, our U.S. forces soldiers, [who came] to the house to have dinner and party,” Carlson said. “They consumed some of the alcohol… It’s not like they didn’t have an idea of what we were doing.”

    In a statement to ABC News, Col. Tom Collins, a U.S. Army spokesperson for the International Security Assistance Force, said, “Clearly, behavior such as that described by ABC News is not indicative of the outstanding work that thousands of contractors and service members perform every day in Afghanistan.”

    Carlson said he began government contract work after a 20-year military career — 10 years in the infantry followed by 10 years in the Special Forces. He said he never abused drugs during that time and told ABC News he is now clean and hasn’t used Ketamine since leaving the Jorge Scientific facility in Kabul.

    Carlson, who is married with two children, is currently living in Germany and would like to continue as a medic with another government contractor. But, he admits, his behavior and subsequent firing from Jorge Scientific may halt what was once a promising career.

    He said he’s asked for forgiveness from his family “for putting them in the situation where I’m unemployed and now looking for a job and maybe not being able to get one because of what happened.”

    Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

  2. Afghanistan war vets file class-action suit against federal government

    October 30, 2012

    Dene Moore, The Canadian Press

    VANCOUVER – A group of Afghanistan war veterans has filed a class-action lawsuit against the federal government, saying the disability payment regime under the New Veterans Charter violates their human rights.

    The lawsuit filed in B.C. Supreme Court on Tuesday claims disability payments are decided arbitrarily and aren’t enough to support soldiers who have been injured.

    “There’s no other group of people who can be ordered to put their life on the line for their country,” said Don Sorochan, the Vancouver lawyer representing six current and former soldiers named in the suit.

    In return, there is a social covenant between those men and women and the citizens of this country to take care of them if they are injured, he said.

    “It’s a promise by us, as the people of Canada, that we will look after those who put their lives on the line for us and who put their bodies on the line for us.

    “Unfortunately, the bureaucrats don’t think it is binding on them.”

    The lawsuit claims the new charter is a breach of the fiduciary duty owed to injured soldiers, and it seeks damages as well as a declaration that disabled veterans have been discriminated against.

    The disability payments for injured and disabled soldiers are “paltry” in comparison to awards handed out in Canadian civil courts and by workers’ compensation boards, Sorochan said.

    Among the six soldiers named in the lawsuit against the Attorney General of Canada is Maj. Mark Douglas Campbell, 47, a 32-year veteran of the Canadian Forces who served in Cyprus, Bosnia and Afghanistan.

    On June 2, 2008, Campbell, a member of the Edmonton-based Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry, was mentoring an Afghan National Army battalion that was hit by an IED and Taliban ambush. He lost both legs above the knee, one testicle, suffered numerous lacerations and a ruptured eardrum.

    He has since been diagnosed with depressive disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder.

    Campbell received a lump sum payment for pain and suffering of $260,000.

    Still a serving member of the forces, he will receive taxable monthly payments of $10,787.50 when he retires, almost half of it from his regular military annuity. The rest will come from an earnings loss benefit reduced to account for the annuity, a permanent impairment allowance because of his lost job opportunities due to permanent impairment, and a supplement because he is entirely unable to work.

    It will leave him in a net earnings loss, the lawsuit claims.

    “Mr. Campbell suffered a catastrophic injury that ended his upwards career as a senior decorated Canadian Forces member,” says the lawsuit.

    “He is incapable of earning a gainful income and will most certainly suffer financial distress in the future as family needs far exceed their reduced means.”

    Cpl. Bradley Darren Quast, 23, was part of a light armoured patrol hit by an IED on Dec. 30, 2009. Four soldiers and Canadian journalist Michelle Lang were killed.

    “Mr. Quast was extremely disoriented following the blast. He found himself lying amongst deceased and dismembered victims of the blast,” the lawsuit says. “People were screaming and Mr. Quast saw injured and dying comrades strewn about the blast (site).”

    Quast, a reservist in the South Alberta Light Horse Regiment, suffered severe injuries to his leg and foot. He’s undergone numerous surgeries and has another scheduled for spring of next year.

    Quast, who has been told he will be medically discharged but has not been given a date, received an initial $55,000 lump sum payment for pain and suffering and another $43,000 last year.

    In May, he received another $102,000 lump sum payment for post-traumatic stress disorder and major depressive disorder.

    Quast, who wanted to pursue a career as a police officer, may never be able to meet the physical requirements, the lawsuit says.

    The other soldiers named in the suit include a Port Moody soldier who suffered injuries to his knees patrolling the streets of Kabul and a Vancouver reservist hit by a tree felled to clear out fields of fire around a remote outpost in Kandahar province.

    Bombadier Daniel Christopher Scott, a reservist from Surrey, B.C., was injured in a February 2010 training accident at the Kankala Range in Kandahar province.

    Scott, 26, suffered a leg fracture, collapsed lung and damage to his kidney, spleen and pancreas when a claymore mine exploded close to his platoon. Another soldier died en route with him to the hospital at Kandahar Air Field.

    Two officers in charge and a warrant officer who detonated the mine faced court-martial over the accident.

    Scott received a $41,000 lump sum payment in lieu of a disability pension, an amount the lawsuit said is insufficient to cover damages for the permanent injuries he suffered and the loss of earning capacity.

    The allegations in the lawsuit have not been proven in court.

    It’s not the first lawsuit launched over the New Veterans Charter, which was adopted unanimously by Parliament and came into effect in 2006.

    Earlier this month, Veterans Affairs ended a policy of clawing back benefit payments of disabled veterans after a Federal Court rejected the practice.

    It is the “honour of the Crown” that is at stake, said Sorochan, who has taken on the case pro bono.

    He said he is always hopeful that disputes can be resolved without a long court fight. A class-action lawsuit can take years to wind its way through the courts.

    “The New Veterans Charter was thought, unanimously, by all politicians then in Parliament, to be a good thing. They were wrong. And now we’re using this lawsuit as a mechanism to try and get it across that they were wrong,” he said.

  3. Pingback: Female military veterans, after rape, homelessness | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  4. 6:05 a.m. EDT, May 29, 2013

    KABUL (Reuters) – Impoverished Afghanistan, already plagued by insurgency and struggling to contain crippling rates of opium addiction, faces another potential headache with spiraling usage of the synthetic drug crystal methamphetamine.

    The growing use of the drug, known as crystal meth or ice, comes at a critical time. Some fear that, with the exit of most foreign troops by the end of next year and dwindling interest and aid from the international community, significant addiction to the relatively new drug could wreak social havoc.

    The number of crystal meth samples taken from seizures tripled to 48 in 2012 compared with the year before, according to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC).

    Importantly, however, there are concerns the power vacuum left by the withdrawal of foreign troops could turn Afghanistan into a new route for moving Iranian-made crystal meth to nations in the Pacific, like Thailand and Indonesia, through Pakistan.

    “It’s a potential threat,” a Kabul-based official from the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) told Reuters, speaking on condition of anonymity.

    Small quantities of around half a kilogram are usually seized, said Peter Bottomley, the UNODC’s consultant in Kabul, describing it as a “worrying trend”.

    “If this country gets addicted to meth, there will be a big problem,” Bottomley said.

    Afghanistan is the world’s top producer of opium, from which heroin is made and which helps fund the Taliban’s insurgency, and is heading for a near-record this year, the UNODC has said.

    Treatment options for Afghanistan’s 1 million heroin addicts, some of whom inject into their groins in broad daylight in central Kabul, are sorely limited.

    In the country’s sole, ultra-secretive drugs lab on the outskirts of Kabul, Afghan pharmacists analyze samples from seizures brought in on a daily basis, which are subject to three rounds of testing to identify the substance and its potency.

    A sack of translucent crystals resembling large grains of sea salt sat on one of the lab’s tables – one of the recent seizures of crystal meth. It stood out starkly among the brown hues of heroin, opium, morphine and hashish in tiny bags.

    “If only we could get the punishment increased for selling this,” said Mohammad Khalid Nabizada, the head of the lab, which operates under the Interior Ministry’s Counter Narcotics Police.

    Prison terms for selling crystal meth are relatively light, with dealers facing up to one year behind bars for 1 kg (2.2 lb), compared with up to three years for opium and a maximum of 10 years for the same amount of heroin.

    “ABNORMAL BEHAVIOUR”

    Dubbed “glass” in Afghanistan, crystal meth only appeared in recent years and is made in high-tech labs across the border in Iran. Most of it is consumed in the border provinces of Herat and Nimroz, but seizures have been scattered across the country.

    Its street price is about $20, or five times that of heroin, making it relatively expensive in one of the world’s poorest countries, said Ahmad Khalid Mowahid, spokesman for the Criminal Justice Task Force that convicts serious drug offenders.

    But its rocketing use hints at falling exclusivity.

    “If glass users are added to our opium addicts, it’ll be a disaster. Meth addicts jump off roofs and punch fists in walls. Imagine such abnormal behavior here,” Mowahid told Reuters.

    He said Afghanistan does not have the “medicine nor the means” to try to contain a growing meth addiction.

    The United States is no stranger to the epidemic of crystal meth, where home-made labs and a booming Mexican trade have consumed small towns.

    “It has that same look coming out of Iran, of large-scale commercial properties … And it can become a cancer,” the DEA official said.

    (Reporting by Amie Ferris-Rotman)

    Copyright © 2013, Reuters

  5. Pingback: CIA made doctors torture | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  6. Pingback: More Afghan opium than ever | Dear Kitty. Some blog

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