Contractors Fingered in Prison Abuse Still on the Job

May 6th, 2004 - by admin

Joel Brinkley and James Glanz / New York Times – 2004-05-06 09:36:01

NEW YORK (May 4, 2004) — More than two months after a classified Army report found that two contract workers were implicated in the abuse of Iraqis at a prison outside Baghdad, the companies that employ them say that they have heard nothing from the Pentagon, and that they have not removed any employees from Iraq.

For one of the employees, the Army report recommended “termination of employment” and revocation of his security clearance. For the other, it urged an official reprimand and review of his security clearance.

But J. P. London, chief executive of CACI, one of the companies involved, said in an interview on Monday that “we have not received any information or direction from the client regarding our work in country — no charges, no communications, no citations, no calls to appear at the Pentagon.”

Ralph Williams, vice president for communications for Titan, the other company, also said Monday that the company has heard nothing, and that none of Titan’s workers have been recalled.

Military spokesmen in Washington and Baghdad said Monday evening that they had no information on whether the workers were still on the job or why the report had not been conveyed to the companies. In a statement issued Monday, CACI defended its employees, saying they are well-trained former military personnel.

The classified Army report asserted that at least one employee of CACI was among those “either directly or indirectly responsible for the abuses at Abu Ghraib,” the Iraqi prison. It is unclear whether the second employee implicated works for CACI or Titan, since the Army report mentions both companies. Neither company would comment.

CACI said in its statement that one of the men listed in the report “is not and never has been a CACI employee,” but the statement did not name him. Companies with employees in Iraq usually refuse to identify them, citing security concerns.

CACI International, a 41-year-old public company whose main business is information technology – it manages the State Department’s e-mail system, for example — said it has opened its own investigation. But Dr. London noted with apparent irritation that the military still had not provided the company with a copy of the classified military report, completed Feb. 26, that makes allegations about CACI’s employees.

Two civilian contractors were cited in the report. One of them, Steven Stephaniwicz, is described as a civilian interrogator, an employee of CACI assigned to the 205th Military Intelligence Brigade.

Dr. London said the company opened an intelligence service division in the late 1990’s whose mission is “intelligence information collection, analysis, field support and human intelligence that could include these types of interviews.” It remains a small part of the business, he added. Still, Joe Vafi, an analyst who follows the company for Jeffries & Company in San Francisco, said CACI “has hired a lot of former military, former intelligence.”

CACI was founded in 1962 as the California Analysis Center, Inc. But as its mission grew more diverse, it changed its name simply to CACI Inc., in 1973. It has about 9,400 employees and revenues of $843 million last year. About 63 percent of the company’s business is under contract to the Defense Department and 29 percent to other federal agencies.

The other contractor implicated, John Israel, identified as a civilian translator assigned to the same brigade, is described in one place in the Army report as a CACI employee and in another as an employee of Titan, which provides translators for the Army throughout Iraq. They and other civilian contractors, the report says, were allowed to “wander about” the prison “with too much unsupervised, free access to the detainee area.”

It further states that both Mr. Israel and Mr. Stephanowicz made false statements to investigators about their knowledge or participation in the abuses, and that Mr. Israel apparently did not have security clearance.

Mr. Williams said Titan would not identify its employees working in Iraq but added, “we have no contracts that involve the physical handling of prisoners. The only service we provide is linguistic services.” Though he would not confirm that Mr. Israel worked for Titan, he said all of Titan’s employees are still on the job in Iraq.

Titan, like CACI, is a public company that provides information and communication services under contract to federal defense and intelligence agencies. Founded in 1981, it has about 12,000 employees and revenues of about $2 billion a year. Neither Mr. Israel nor Mr. Stephanowicz could be located on Monday.

The contracts for these workers are classified, the companies said. But Angela Styles, who served as an administrator for federal procurement policy in the Office of Management and Budget from 2001 to 2003, said the rules and statements of work governing federal contractors in this context are usually are quite broad. “I would be shocked if there was anything more specific than you will assist the DOD with the detention of prisoners,” she said.

Allen Weiner, a professor of international law and diplomacy at Stanford University law school, said that ultimately the military commanders are responsible for the contractors’ behavior. “The law of war which applies in times of intense brutality assumes a high degree of control by commanders for the acts of their subordinates,” he said.

But he added that, even with that responsibility, the commanders may not have had as much control as they would like. “One can assume,” he said “that once the contract is let, there may not be the same formal operational control that one would expect through the chain of command.”

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