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Interior: Army Never Reported Abuse
Agency responsible for dealing with intelligence firm hasn't taken action because no problems were ever reported, official says.
By Leon Worden
Signal City Editor
Wednesday, June 9, 2004
he federal government didn't crack down on an intelligence firm that provided civilian interrogators to Abu Ghraib prison last fall because the Army never reported any kind of problem, an official said Tuesday.
The U.S. Interior Department administers the contract between the Army and CACI International Inc., an information technology firm in Virginia that supplied some of the intelligence experts who have been blamed for the abuse of Iraqi prisoners.
If the Army has a problem with the personnel or services provided by CACI, it is supposed to tell Interior Department officials, who would then deal with the company, Interior Department spokesman Frank Quimby said.
"At no point during these two delivery orders did the Army indicate there was a problem," Quimby told The Signal. "They still haven't."
An Army spokeswoman in Washington didn't have an immediate explanation Tuesday.
The Interior Department's Inspector General is conducting a review of the agency's contracting procedures.
CACI supplied interrogators and "human intelligence support" to the Army at Abu Ghraib prison under Interior Department delivery orders that were signed in August and December, covering the period when the abuse took place. Two supposed CACI contractors, including a Santa Clarita translator, were named in Maj. Gen. Antonio Taguba's report on abuse at the prison.
One, John B. Israel, 48, of Canyon Country, is accused of sharing overall responsibility for the abuse, and of saying he didn't watch prisoners being maltreated despite "several witness statements" to the contrary.
The other, Steven Stephanowicz of Philadelphia, is accused of lying about his knowledge of abusive interrogations, and of prompting prison guards to soften up detainees for questioning in violation of Army regulations.
* * *Israel's employment through CACI has not been verified. In one section of his report, Taguba identifies Israel as a CACI employee, while in two other places he identifies him as an employee of Titan Corp., another information technology company based in San Diego.
The Signal has established that Israel works for SOS Interpreting Ltd., a New York subcontractor that provided translators to Titan. A Titan official said his company's contract is directly with the Army.
"We have one contract in Iraq, and it is to provide linguists," Titan spokesman Ralph "Wil" Williams said. He said Titan has held the contract since 1999.
Quimby confirmed that the Interior Department does not administer Titan's contract.
* * *Quimby said the Interior Department assumed some not all contract administration functions for the Army, Homeland Security, Justice, Commerce and Defense during a period of government reform in the late 1990s.
On Jan. 14, 2001, the Interior Department took over the management of a particular information technology contract that the Army had previously handled itself at Ft. Huachuka, Ariz.
The contract was with Premier Technologies Group. CACI bought the contract from Premier in 2003. It was a blanket purchase agreement under which the Army would fill out a new delivery order whenever it needed more services or personnel.
Since 2001 there have been 81 delivery orders under the blanket Premier-CACI contract, including 11 for Coalition Joint Task Force 7 in Iraq, of which two were for interrogation and intelligence analysis at Abu Ghraib, Quimby said.
He did not know specifics about the personnel provided under the two delivery orders for Abu Ghraib.
The two delivery orders are valued at $41.7 million, but only about $3.4 million has been paid out on them so far, he said.
Quimby said all three parties to the contract CACI, the Army and the Interior Department have certain legal responsibilities.
"CACI's responsibility is to provide the services at a (negotiated) price," he said. "The Interior Department is responsible for administering the contract," which includes functions such as issuing checks to the contract firms.
"The Army is to provide the specifications, (determine the) pay, and supervise the contract work and contract workers," he said.
"They have the legal responsibly to provide the supervision of the contractors by Army officers, who report up the chain of command," he said.
After the release of the Taguba report in April, the Interior Department took it upon itself to ask Army officials in Baghdad whether there were any problems with CACI's services, Quimby said.
Three weeks ago, "We got the response: no problem," he said.
"The Army apparently doesn't have a problem with the contract yet," he said.
The Army would have to report problems before the Interior Department could compel CACI to take corrective measures, he said.
"We can only act when we're told there is a problem," Quimby said.
He said the Interior Department's Inspector General is conducting an independent audit and review to determine whether a blanket contract for information technology was an appropriate vehicle for providing interrogators to Abu Ghraib prison.
"In the summer of 2003, the Army was ... trying to house troops by the thousands. The Army was sorely pressed for intelligence personnel," and it could get some quickly under the CACI contract, Quimby said.
A contract for information technology was deemed a proper fit "because a significant portion of the work involved information technology work," he said. Interrogators would have to record their entries into computer databases.
The Interior Department won't execute any more delivery orders under CACI's blanket contract, Quimby said.
CACI said in a May 25 statement that it is "confident with respect to the continuation of (CACI's) services in support of clients served throughout the current contract," and that its "U.S. military customers continue to report their satisfaction with CACI's performance."
Brig. Gen. George R. Fay is conducting a full inquiry in Baghdad into the intelligence practices of the 205th Military Intelligence Brigade, to which CACI's contractors at Abu Ghraib were assigned.
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