WASHINGTON - March 7 - U.S. government agencies have ignored multiple problems involving the troubled security contractor Wackenhut, who Monday was exposed by whistleblowing employees for lax security practices at the headquarters of the Department of Homeland Security in Washington. Wackenhut, a subsidiary of London-based Group 4 Securicor, guards dozens of highly sensitive nuclear weapons sites, nuclear power plants, and Army Bases.
At these sites, multiple security problems have been reported in the last several years, including findings that Wackenhut:
• Was caught cheating on an anti-terrorism drill at a U.S. nuclear site
• Performed poorly on an anti-terrorism drill at a separate U.S. nuclear site
• Was found “systematically” violating weapons inventory and handling policies at a U.S. nuclear site
• Was criticized for a conflict of interest involving security testing at nuclear plant
• Had managers showing new hires at a nuclear power plant where they could take naps.
• Guards were cutting corners on patrols at a nuclear power plant
• Has been accused by guards at U.S. Army Bases of sloppy security practices and lax training
Despite these problems, Wackenhut continues to be the US government’s largest supplier of private guards, holding multi-million dollar contracts with the Department of Homeland, the Department of Energy, and other agencies. The company guards seven nuclear sites operated by the US Energy Dept, including some that store highly enriched uranium. Wackenhut also guard 18 U.S. Army bases and more than half (31) of the nation’s commercial nuclear power plants, in addition to the Department of Homeland Security headquarters.
“How many mistakes does a contractor like Wackenhut need to make for agencies like DHS to realize they are not right for the job?” said Stephen Lerner, Director of the Property Services Division of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), the nation’s largest security officers’ union. “Wackenhut has a pre-9/11 mentality about security. There has been problem after problem. There are other, much better, alternatives than Wackenhut.” For more info about security problems involving Wackenhut, visit www.EyeonWackenhut.org
An AP story, put on the wires Monday, says Wackenhut guards who work at DHS headquarters in DC describe inadequate training, failed security tests, and slow or confused reactions to bomb and biological threats at the DHS HQ in Washington, D.C. and have taken their concerns to Congress.
The AP story appears just as the U.S. Dept of Energy is deciding whether or not to renew major security contracts with Wackenhut worth hundreds of millions of dollars at key U.S. nuclear weapons and materials sites in Tennessee and Nevada.