No Pain, No Gain

It was a year of agony in Iraq for poor CACI, but at least the defense contractor's profits soared

Some of CACI's experience in Iraq has been nothing but torture. Luckily, it has paid off: The defense contractor implicated in the Abu Ghraib horrors just reported that its profits for this year's financial first quarter are up 52 percent over last year's.

"The company said its quarterly revenue from Defense Department contracts alone rose 86 percent from the comparable quarter a year earlier," The Washington Post reported. "Revenue from Pentagon customers totaled $277.8 million."

The great news propelled CACI to its all-time high per-share price during the October 20 trading session, according to CBS MarketWatch.

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CACI's total revenue for the quarter was $388.7 million, compared with only $235.7 million in the same period last year. CEO Jack London (not that one) credited the company's "ability to deliver value-added service to new and existing customers."

However, CACI interrogators won't be delivering advice, direction, or other services any longer to Staff Sergeant Ivan "Chip" Frederick. On the same day CACI proclaimed its great financial news, Frederick was sentenced in Baghdad to eight years in prison himself for abusing Abu Ghraib prisoners.

What awful timing for CACI. One of its 36 employees at Abu Ghraib, according to the military's probe last spring known as the Fay report, allegedly encouraged Frederick to abuse a detainee, didn't stop the sergeant from almost asphyxiating him, and allegedly used Frederick's mere presence as a threat to prisoners.

To feel the company's pain, read the Fay report and refer back to this Bush Beat item.

CACI has really had its name dragged through the mud—similar to the way, as the Post paraphrased the Fay report, "an unidentified CACI interrogator grabbed a prisoner from a vehicle, pulled him to the ground and dragged him to an interrogation booth as the prisoner tried to stand."

But you have to try to stand up. Only Tuesday, CACI stood up to California State Treasurer Phil Angelides, representing the giant retirement fund CALPERS, which owns CACI stock, for his "continuing misguided harassment" of CACI in connection with the firm's work at Abu Ghraib. Maybe someone encouraged this California official to abuse CACI—the way the Fay report says CACI employees encouraged U.S. soldiers to abuse Abu Ghraib's prisoners.

But enough is enough! In the statement issued formally to investors on October 19, the defense contractor said:

CACI has not been charged or found guilty of any misconduct. We have said from the beginning that if any of our employees are found guilty of misconduct, we will take appropriate action. The vast majority of our investors continue to support the company, as do our customers. Our financial performance continues to be outstanding and to provide excellent returns for our investors. If Angelides and the fund want to walk away from a more than 50 percent return on their investment since August of this year in CACI, we fully support their decision.

If CACI sounds near tears, well, can you blame it? Corporations are people, too, according to U.S. law. (Read the Center for Public Integrity's bio of CACI here.) Think of the humiliation—like the time, according to another accusation in the Fay report and recounted by the Post, that a CACI employee at Abu Ghraib humiliated a prisoner by shaving his head and beard and forcing him to wear red panties.

You'd think that a thriving company would see red itself if a pack of critics was yapping at its heels—like the time, the Fay report alleged, that CACI interrogators used dogs to terrorize prisoners.

But terror is CACI's business, and helping U.S. government employees deal with it is part of it. "We will continue to support their missions," CEO London said, "in the defense of our nation and in the global war against terrorism."

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