Report: CACI interrogators lacked training, but met contract

A recent Army inspector general's report on prisoner abuse by the U.S. military found that more than a third of the interrogators supplied in Iraq by defense contractor CACI International Inc. had not been trained in military interrogation methods and policies.

But the report also concluded that CACI met the military's statement of work, which did not require military interrogation training as a prerequisite for employment.

The Arlington, Va., company said it was pleased with the findings of the report.

The July 21 report by Army Lt. Gen. Paul Mikolashek determined that there had been 39 deaths and 94 cases of confirmed or suspected abuse by soldiers against prisoners in Iraq and Afghanistan from fall 2001 to early June 2004.

The report blames a few low-ranking soldiers for the misconduct as well as their leaders for failing to provide adequate supervision, but concluded that the abuse was not systemic.

The report also examined the role of civilian contractors, including CACI, in the abuse incidents.

The report was released at a hastily called Senate Armed Services Committee hearing last Thursday just before Congress adjourned for its summer recess.

CACI has been under fire from the military and other government agencies after being implicated earlier this year in another Army report on the Iraqi prisoner-abuse scandal at the Abu Ghraib prison and for providing interrogation services under an information technology contract.

Under its contract for interrogation services in Iraq, CACI has 11 task orders worth $66 million.

According to the latest report, CACI has provided 31 interrogators since its contract with the Interior Department was issued Aug. 14, 2003. As of May 17, 19 CACI contractors were still on the job, and 12 had returned to the United States for personal or family reasons.

The report said that 11 of the 31 interrogators lacked training in military policies and techniques, potentially placing them at a greater risk of violating military policies and reducing intelligence yield.

These interrogators, however, received similar training in previous occupations in related military or civilian positions, the report said.

The remaining 20 had previous experience as Army or Marine Corps interrogators, and had received training in military interrogation techniques and procedures at that time, the report said.

The investigation found no evidence of any formal training programs for contract interrogators in Iraq, the report said.

The Mikolashek report went on to say that soldiers described two incidents in which contract interrogators used techniques and procedures that were not in line with Army policy, including pouring water over a prisoner's head while in a stress position. In one such incident, military interrogators at the location were already using the technique, the report added.

The report also mentioned four contract interrogators employed by Sytex Inc., a services provider in Doylestown, Pa., who worked in March 2004 at an internment facility in Bagram, Afghanistan, a city roughly 31 miles north of the capital of Kabul. It found that two had received military interrogation training, and the other two, who are former police officers, did not.

The report recommended that all contract interrogators receive training on Army techniques, policies and doctrine for performing interrogations.

The General Services Administration, which also examined whether CACI's interrogation services fell within the scope of its IT contract, decided in early July that it would not debar the company from doing further business with the federal government.

But Joseph Neurauter, GSA's suspension and debarment official, requested further explanation from CACI about its statements of work as well as information on any pending federal or state lawsuits against the company.

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