WT Business Beat

By Nick Wakeman

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London, CACI speak out

I've interviewed Jack London many times over the years, so it was easy for me to hear his voice as I read parts of his book, Our Good Name, which will be released this week.

In it, he recounts how his company, CACI International Inc., was sucked into the frenzy surrounding the Abu Ghraib prisoner abuse scandal.

I received a reviewer's copy of the book this morning and I've only read the introduction and the epilogue along with a postscript.

We covered the scandal when it broke in 2004, following both the breaking news aspect of it and trying to provide some interpretation of what the events meant to CACI and to the industry as a whole. Here is one of the better stories we did.

As quick background, CACI and Titan Corp. were named in a leaked investigative report that implicated an employee from each company as participating in the abuse of prisoners at Abu Ghraib. While neither company nor its employees were ever charged with any wrongdoing, it took months, if not years, for the facts to come out. CACI is still battling misperceptions.

That is part of Jack's thesis ? the media did a horrible job covering the news. He forcefully lays out incident after incident where mistakes were made, and rarely, if ever, corrected. It is a trip to the woodshed.

London is also angry that no actions have been taken to investigate how a draft of a classified report was leaked.

The publication of the book is in keeping with how London and CACI approached this scandal from the start. They were very proactive in attacking what they saw as falsehoods. Titan, interestingly, took the opposite approach and declined requests for interviews when the story was hot. CACI was out front, dedicating a section of its Web site to the scandal, monitoring and responding to news stories. They even sued talk radio personality Randy Rhodes and Air America for statements she made on the air.

London's deeply sourced book has 718 footnotes, 11 appendixes and a bibliography that runs for 37 pages. One of the appendixes is a breakdown of CACI's crisis management plan, which probably should be required reading for any executive.

I'm not going to ascribe to all of London's views on the media, but I do admire how he and the company handled the crisis. I believe him when he says their goal was to get the truth out. This book is a good contribution to the discussion of the media's power as well as the role contractors play in government operations.

The book is published by Regnery Publishing Inc. More information is available at http://www.ourgoodnamethebook.com.

Posted by Nick Wakeman on Apr 21, 2008 at 7:22 PM


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