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Monday, June 22, 2009

Agents say DEA is forcing them illegally to work in Afghanistan

What troubles me the most is the lack of equipment the deployed SAs get... not the fact that they are serving in Afghanistan, you know, the place that produces more than 90 percent of the world's opium.
Agents said supervisors told them that working in dangerous countries is part of their job requirements, but Offield's Sacramento-based lawyer said such compulsory duty violates a 2008 federal law that requires civilian personnel to serve voluntarily.

"The DEA is not only violating the law," said attorney Richard Margarita, a former DEA agent and county prosecutor. "They could very well be sending Dan Offield to his death."

The Obama administration has said it doesn't expect problems with finding volunteers for Afghanistan missions, despite an ambitious strategy that calls for sending hundreds of additional civilian personnel. The plan already faces long odds in a country of resurgent Islamic militants, endemic corruption and widespread opium trafficking...

On longer tours, agents complain that they're not issued ammunition or magazines and are forced to borrow them from fellow agents. Ballistic vests aren't fitted for specific agents. Rifles are issued without laser sights and optics like the military has, and personal locator beacons and GPS systems are hard to come by. Some agents said they end up buying thousands of dollars of equipment themselves.

"The DEA does not have enough resources or equipment to get the job done in Afghanistan," one agent said.

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