Titan Won't Bill Army for Implicated Linguists' Time

By Leon Worden
Signal City Editor

Thursday, June 17, 2004

itan Corp. has decided not to bill the government for John B. Israel and another civilian translator's time at Abu Ghraib prison, a Defense Department official said.
    Israel, 48, of Canyon Country, and Adel L. Nakhla, 50, of Maryland, were accused by an Army general of contributing to the climate of abuse that pervaded the prison last fall. Israel was deemed a "responsible" party and Nakhla a "suspect."
    Both were provided by Titan, a San Diego firm that supplies the Army with translators. Israel worked for a Titan subcontractor and Nakhla worked directly for Titan until he was fired in May.
    "Titan recently informed us that they will adjust previously billed costs for the Titan employee and the subcontractor employee named in connection with potential abuses at Abu Ghraib prison," William Reed, director of the Defense Contract Audit Agency, said in testimony Tuesday to the House Committee on Government Reform.
    Reed said Titan will shave $178,000 off of its previous billings by the end of the week.
    The Army is conducting a full inquiry of the military intelligence brigade to which Israel and Nakhla were assigned. Titan thought it prudent to suspend billings for the period when the abuse was happening, at least until the results of the inquiry are known.
    "The reason we did this is, we don't know what the investigation entails, so we took the initiative to be conservative," Titan spokesman Ralph "Wil" Williams said.
    No government agency has accused Titan of wrongdoing, and Israel and Nakhla aren't known to face charges.
    Separate from Abu Ghraib, Reed said the government is holding back 10 percent of payments to Titan for labor until the company modifies certain billing practices and shows it is properly tracking foreign workers' hours.
    Titan, which is in the process of being acquired by Lockheed-Martin Corp., has more than 4,400 linguists in Iraq, including some at Abu Ghraib, under a contract with the U.S. Army Intelligence and Security Command. Reed said the contract is valued at $402 million.
    Reed also said the Defense Contract Audit Agency is joining the list of entities investigating another company's contract — that of CACI International Inc., which provided interrogators and analysts to Abu Ghraib and other U.S.-run prisons. Reed said "interrogator" isn't a function that falls under CACI's Army-funded contract for information technology.