“Our Good Name: A Company’s Fight to Defend Its Honor and Get the Truth Told About Abu Ghraib,” opens appropriately with the Victorian poem “Invictus” by William Ernest Henley. Experts have interpreted the work as a powerful expression of stoicism; that one must rely on his own resources and remain true to his convictions through the darkest of hours.
J. Phillip “Jack” London and the CACI team faced more than a few hours of darkness watching the Abu Ghraib prison scandal play out mercilessly on the front pages. Those who know Dr. London were likely not surprised by the choice of poems, and those who read the book – unveiled during a book signing hosted by ExecutiveBiz on behalf of Dr. London and the CACI authors last week at the Tower Club – will find a man whose conviction refused to waver during a crisis that threatened to unravel a company built over 40 years ago in a matter of weeks.
In brief but spirited remarks at the book signing, London relayed that the CACI team drew from the 1982 Tylenol scare (hence my cryptic title) in preparing its aggressive crisis response strategy – part of which included the book. During the Tylenol crisis, product tampering with Extra Strength Tylenol in Chicago led to several deaths, dropping Tylenol’s market share from 35% to 8%. But Johnson & Johnson was lauded for its quick and aggressive response to the crisis, and in short order Tylenol was dominating the market.
London observed a similar threat to CACI – one that put its very future at risk. While the photos and commentary surrounding Abu Ghraib grabbed the nation’s attention, “Our Good Name” takes readers behind the scenes of how the company at the center of the storm attempted to identify the facts, determine if there had been wrongdoing by CACI employees, and aggressively respond to allegations in order to preserve its credibility and standing with existing and prospective customers.
With a point-by-point rebuttal to the allegations, the 700+ page effort (sorry to those looking for a breezy summer beach read – unless you will be stranded on said beach for several weeks) takes readers all the way back to what CACI points to as an illegally leaked copy of a classified, preliminary investigative U.S. Army report by Major General Antonio M. Taguba in 2004. And while the book is notable for its deep and detailed counter-punches to what was being reported in the media, one has a sense that the CACI team was motivated by the painful irony of how it was portrayed during the scandal. A company that saw its mission as providing IT services that protected America’s security was now being branded in a most un-American light. And a company that had for decades operated – contently – behind the scenes, now found itself thrust into an unwelcome national spotlight.
In absorbing Dr. London’s remarks at the book signing and for those who engaged him while having the book signed (London spent more than a few minutes with each attendee who approached him) one also has the sense that the book was part of a broader effort to develop a “public voice” for CACI that could elevate to a decibel level on par with what national media was operating at. “Our Good Name” communicates the CACI message loud and clear – to those open to hearing it.
Brian Lustig is co-founder of Lustig Communications, a Rockville, MD-based communications firm that works with growing technology and government IT firms. Lustig is also a contributor to local business and industry publications.