Civilian Contractors and the Iraqi Torture Scandal
An Interesting Juxtaposition

the CACI folks have set a high standard for the young soldiers to follow

Billmon's got some really hot stuff on the torture scandal and CACI International over at Whiskey Bar:

Bernhard, a Whiskey Bar reader in Germany, has made a spectacular catch - or cache, I should say, since it comes from the bowels of the Google data base. What he stumbled across is the diary of one Joe Ryan, a frequent caller and on-air personality at station KSTP, a conservative talk radio station in Minneapolis. More recently, Joe has been serving as a military interrogator at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq, and KSTP has been posting his diary on their web site.

For some strange reason, though, the radio station recently removed Joe's diary from its site. Unfortunately for KSTP - and, I suspect, for Joe - the page has been cached by Google. A copy also now resides on my hard drive.

The diary is a fascinating read - not least because it documents the fact that as of last Sunday, one of the private contractors identified in the Army's own internal investigation of the torture scandal was still at Abu Ghraib, and may still have been supervising or conducting interrogations.

The contactor's name is Steven Stephanowicz, and he works for CACI International - one of two firms that have been publically linked to the abuses in Abu Ghraib's high-security cell block. CACI has told the Los Angeles Times that it " knew of no allegations of abuse" against it's employees. But here's what Sy Hersh reported on the New Yorker web site yesterday:

General Taguba urged that a civilian contractor, Steven Stephanowicz, of CACI International, be fired from his Army job, reprimanded, and denied his security clearances for lying to the investigating team and allowing or ordering military policemen Ågwho were not trained in interrogation techniques to facilitate interrogations by Åesetting conditionsÅf which were neither authorizedÅh nor in accordance with Army regulations. ÅgHe clearly knew his instructions equated to physical abuse,Åh Taguba wrote.

According to Hersh, Taguba's report was completed in late February. And yet, here's what Joe Ryan, our radio personality turned military interrogator, put in his diary entry for April 25:

I got to take the rest of the day off after our long booth time. This gave us a nice evening after dinner to head to the roof and play a round of golf. Scott Norman, Jeff Mouton, Steve Hattabaugh, Steve Stefanowicz, and I all took turns trying to hit balls over the back wall and onto the highway.

Unless there have been two Steve Stefanowicz/Stephanowiczs working as interrogators at Abu Ghraib, it appears the Army not only ignored Gen. Tagabu's recommendation that Stephanowicz be fired and stripped of his security clearances, it didn't do anything about him at all -- leaving Mr. Stephanowicz free to continue his "work" at the prison (with time off for the occasional round of golf.)

Whether or not they are the same guy is an interesting question. Since many of the "civilian contractors" are also in the reserves, establishing that the later one is from the actual military is not defiitive.

But what I find much more interesting is (a) we now have a name of a civilian contractor who is alleged to have been involved in this, and (b) we have a relatively unguarded an inside account to refer to. Good work Berhard & Billmon!

Here's an excerpt from Joe Ryan's diary from April 21st:

We have been working hard on an intelligence project for the Al Fallujah area. We would probably be a lot further along if there was some support from Captain Todl. He is the Marine captain out there that wants all of our information post haste, but will not release any information they are getting so we can put the whole picture together. The Marines here are a fantastic bunch of guys and I am sure the average Marine in 1st Marine Division in Al Fallujah is great. I am just singling out one of the intelligence guys because he is our point of contact and an inept one at that. Scott and I put together an analyst package consisting of detailed association matrixes and interrogation highlights to put these guys all together. The command was thrilled and once again the CACI folks have set a high standard for the young soldiers to follow. Specialist Spencer overheard me saying one of the names. About ten minutes later, she came over with some information from one of her interrogations a week ago and we found a link. It is fun to see the excitement in the room when stuff like this happens. It is like putting together a jigsaw puzzle without the picture, so when you get pieces to fit, it is great.

(Via BeatBushBlog.)