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Intel Firm Responds to Signal Coverage
CACI says employees 'are monitored and are under direct supervision of the U.S. Army.'
By Leon Worden
Signal City Editor
Sunday, June 13, 2004
n a letter published in The Signal today, a company that supplies civilian interrogators to Abu Ghraib prison reiterated that it has no connection to a Santa Clarita translator who has been implicated in the prisoner abuse scandal, and said its own employees have always been supervised by military intelligence officers.
John B. Israel, 48, of Canyon Country, was accused in a March 9 report by Maj. Gen. Antonio Taguba of sharing overall responsibility for the abuse. In that report, Taguba identified Israel alternately as an employee of CACI International Inc., which provided interrogators, and of Titan Corp., which provided translators.
In its letter, sent Friday in response to a May 28 Signal news story, CACI said Israel "was incorrectly identified as a CACI employee in the leaked sections of (Taguba's) report."
Israel's employer is actually SOS Interpreting Ltd., a New York-based company that provided prison translators to Titan under a subcontract.
Israel's attorney has made no statements and has not returned phone calls.
CACI noted that one of its employees, Steven A. Stefanowicz, whom Taguba similarly accused of being "directly or indirectly responsible for the abuses at Abu Ghraib," has a private attorney who has denied that his client did anything that wasn't "authorized."
CACI said that because no charges have been brought against Stefanowicz, the company is taking no disciplinary action against him.
"In light of the complete absence of any action by the government to charge Mr. Stefanowicz with any offense, or to request any disciplinary action be taken against him, the company is not in a position to take any action," the letter said.
In his March 9 report, Taguba recommended that Stefanowicz "be given an official reprimand to be placed in his employment file, termination of employment, and generation of a derogatory report to revoke his security clearance."
Taguba recommended further inquiry to determine the full extent of culpability of Israel, Stefanowicz and two Army intelligence officers. That second Army inquiry is now under way.
In its letter, CACI said it "carefully screened and qualified all potential interrogators" and hired fewer than 2 percent of 1,600 job applicants for work in Iraq.
CACI said its employees in Iraq "are monitored and are under direct supervision of the U.S. Army. ... At all times the U.S. government has had and continues to have oversight of CACI's employees reporting for work."
The letter said the Army work order "specifies that the U.S. military will provide readiness training and briefings on rules of engagement and general orders applicable to U.S. Armed Forces, (Defense Department) civilians and U.S. contractors. This includes abiding by the Geneva conventions."
Israel and Stefanowicz were assigned to the 205th Military Intelligence Brigade, whose commander was Col. Thomas M. Pappas. According to the Washington Post, Pappas testified in a still-classified section of the Taguba report that he knew of no protocols at Abu Ghraib to school civilian translators or interrogators in the Geneva conventions.
Pappas, now stationed in Germany, declined to answer The Signal's questions about civilian contractors under his command.
While Stefanowicz and Israel have been transferred out of Iraq, CACI interrogators and Titan translators continue to operate at Abu Ghraib and other U.S.-run prisons.
A federal class-action lawsuit was filed against the two companies last week on behalf of former Iraqi detainees.
CACI's letter appears in today's Opinion section.
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