Contractors caught up in Iraqi prisoner abuse scandal

Jack London, CACI's president and chief executive, said the company has received no information from the U.S. government about any of its employees being involved in the alleged criminal abuse of Iraqi detainees.

Olivier Douliery

Two of the nation's top IT defense companies are entangled in the Iraqi prisoner-abuse scandal that has sparked international outrage and caused a diplomatic crisis for the United States.

CACI International Inc. of Arlington, Va., and Titan Corp. of San Diego were named in an investigative report issued in February by the U.S. military as two companies providing interrogators or interpreters at Abu Ghraib prison, approximately 20 miles west of Baghdad, where U.S. soldiers have allegedly mistreated Iraqi prisoners.

Media reports said U.S. officials confirmed that the two companies had employees at the prison who were the subjects of an investigation into the allegations. CACI and Titan officials last week said U.S. government officials had not contacted them about the investigative report.

Both companies have employees working in Iraq under U.S. government contracts, but neither would disclose information on the assignments or locations of its employees, citing security concerns.

Jack London, CACI's president and chief executive officer, said in a conference call May 5 that the company had received no information from the U.S. government about any of its employees being involved in the alleged criminal abuse of Iraqi detainees.

If a CACI employee did participate in the abuse, CACI "will take immediate and appropriate action" and fully cooperate with the government, London said.

Likewise, a spokesman for Titan said that no one from the U.S. military had contacted the company about an employee in Iraq being the subject of an investigation into the reported abuse.

"To my knowledge, none of our employees have been accused of wrongdoing," said Wil Williams, Titan's vice president of corporate communications. He said that Titan provides only translation services to the U.S government under a contract it had before the Iraq invasion. He would not disclose the number of Titan employees in Iraq, citing security reasons.

Williams also said Titan would cooperate with the U.S. government if it received information that one of its employees in Iraq was involved in the mistreatment of prisoners.

Both companies said their employees in Iraq are still on the job.

Interest in the scandal's most recent twist -- about alleged contractor involvement -- was sparked by an online article on the Web site of The New Yorker magazine, which obtained the 53-page classified report on prisoner abuse from last October to December, written by a senior Army commander in Iraq.

In the report, Maj. Gen. Antonio Taguba described various accounts of illegal abuse of Iraqi prisoners committed by U.S. soldiers, intelligence officers and contractors at Abu Ghraib prison. The report contains information from more than 50 interviews of witnesses, potential suspects and prisoners. It also uncovered numerous photos and videos of graphic abuse of prisoners by military police personnel.

Williams said Titan does not have a contract to provide interrogation services or physically handle persons in Iraq.

CACI said it has supported the Army's investigation since it began several months ago, and that its employees in Iraq volunteered to be interviewed by military officials.

According to officials at the two companies, neither CACI nor Titan received an official copy of the Taguba report from the U.S. government, although Williams said he obtained a copy from the Internet. A CACI official said the company formally requested a copy from the Defense Department.

On May 4, Gen. George Casey, Army vice chief of staff, told reporters at a Defense Department news briefing that to the best of his knowledge, the CACI and Titan contractors named in the investigative report had not been charged with crimes.

CACI has outside legal counsel to investigate the actions of its employees relating to the prisoner abuse allegations.

CACI has sent one of its executives to Baghdad to obtain more information, London said in the conference call.

The company's stock has suffered during the controversy. Its share price dropped sharply May 4, falling to $41.45 from $45.28 the day before. The trading volume also soared May 4 with about 2.7 million shares changing hands, compared to about 500,000 the day before.

For Titan, reports of its involvement in the scandal come at a time when the company is under investigation for allegations that its employees bribed foreign officials to obtain contracts in other countries. The bribery allegations could complicate efforts by Lockheed Martin Corp. of Bethesda to purchase the company.

Staff Writer Roseanne Gerin can be reached at rgerin@postnewsweektech.com.

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