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May 6, 2004

Company Named In Iraq Prison Torture Report Also Sells Ethics Training Videos To White House

By J.M. Berger

When new employees at the White House want to learn about government ethics, the office that hires them sends a check for $20 (plus $3.25 postage) to CACI Productions Group -- a division of CACI International, one of two civilian defense contractors named in an Army report on the torture of Iraqi prisoners.

After sending payment to CACI, new executive branch employees receive a CACI Productions training video on government ethics titled "You've Got It!" Among other topics, the video covers "issues concerning use of subordinates to perform tasks unrelated to Government service," according to an October 2000 memo from the Office of Government Ethics.

"You've Got It!" was produced during the Clinton Administration for use after the 2000 election. According to an October 2000 memo from the United States Office of Government Ethics, the video was "intended especially for use during the Presidential transition and thereafter to focus the attention of political appointees on the importance of the executive branch ethics program."

The Ethics Office said it expected the video would also "prove instructive for other executive branch employees." The memo also describes the video's contents: "Against the backdrop of an E-mail romance, the 31-minute video examines some of the ethics issues that commonly confront employees entering Government from the private sector, especially higher-level employees."

According to the memo, the video discusses "recusal requirements to avoid conflicts of interest and impartiality concerns, use of official title to advance private fundraising, acceptance of payment from private sources for giving an official speech, and acceptance of gifts from prohibited sources," as well as "issues concerning use of subordinates to perform tasks unrelated to Government service."

CACI Productions is a division of CACI International, a sprawling software and intelligence services company based in London, with offices all over the United States. CACI employs an unknown number of "interrogation specialists" deployed overseas and within the U.S., including those stationed at Abu Ghraib. Company recruitment ads describe the job as "exciting" and subject to "moderate supervision."

Several soldiers and civilians are under investigation for abuses at the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq, where smiling U.S. soldiers posed for photographs while sexually abusing Iraqi prisoners. The Army report on at the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq named two civilian employees of CACI International among four people suspected of sharing primary responsibility for the abuse of Iraqi prisoners. CACI declined to comment on the charges during a conference call Wednesday, saying only it had received no formal notification of wrongdoing from the U.S. government.

The report also said that military intelligence workers and associated civilians with other companies may have given orders that encouraged the mistreatment of inmates in order to create "conditions favorable for interrogation."

CACI Productions Group lists some 60 government agencies for which it provides video production services, including the Defense Intelligence Agency, the Office of Government Ethics, the Bureau of Prisons, the Office of Naval Intelligence, and the Departments of State, Justice and Treasury.

CACI Productions previously did business as Infocus Media, under which banner the "You've Got It!" video was originally distributed. The former president of Infocus subsequently became Executive Producer of TV Programming for CACI Productions. According to the Office of Government Ethics, the Office was responsible for the actual production of the video.

In addition to "You've Got It!", CACI sells two other ethics-themed videos to the federal government. One video contains three short industrial films titled "Ethics Inquiry," "The Battle for Avery Mann," and "The Revolving Door." The other is titled "Integrity in the Public Service: Earning the Public Trust." Both were made during the mid-1990s.

According to the Ethics Office, the "Ethics Inquiry" installment "explores various standards of conduct issues using a broadcast-quality news magazine format. News 'anchors' in Los Angeles and Washington host four field reporters, each of whom provides an in-depth look at different ethics topics while bringing a unique and sometimes humorous approach to their coverage. The result is an educational, interesting and even entertaining program for any level of employee. The program is divided into four segments with each segment devoted exclusively to one of the following topics: gifts from outside sources, gifts between employees, conflicting financial interests and impartiality issues. These segments can be shown separately or collectively, depending upon an agency's needs and interests."

In "The Battle For Avery Mann," viewers learn about "an average executive branch employee's struggles with the rules governing everyday conduct. Throughout the story, Avery is faced with different dilemmas including using Government equipment for personal documents, accepting a gift from a subordinate and working on a project that involves his outside employer. Avery finds himself caught between what he knows is the right thing to do and what may not be right but would be more convenient or beneficial to him."

In "You've Got It!", according to the Office of Government Ethics, "the main female character (of the video) is a Federal agency ethics official who, by day, is frustrated as she tries to advise a busy incoming political appointee about the Federal ethics and conflict of interest laws.

"In the evening, she is corresponding by E-mail with a romantic interest whom she has not yet met, but who welcomes her philosophical thoughts on several ethics issues. At the end of the video, the two corespondents (sic) meet and learn the true identities of their E-mail friends."

Links to Documentation:

  • Office of Government Ethics Order Form for "You've Got It!"
  • October 11, 2000 Memo on "You've Got It!", Office of Government Ethics

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