Torture Inc.

Fazio gets CACI: Sure, we all know him as the former local politician whose name graces a local wildlife refuge, but did you know that Vic Fazio is now involved with the Abu Ghraib prison scandal? That’s right, our own State assemblyman turned high-powered congressman has moved on to the brave new world of Washington lobbying, where his new firm is advising none other than CACI International Inc., an independent contracting company that provided the Army with civilian interrogators in Iraq.

Bites called Clark & Weinstock’s Washington office, where Fazio is a co-managing partner, and his assistant confirmed that the company has been hired by CACI, which is being investigated by the General Services Administration and could be barred from further government work. Indeed, Clark & Weinstock’s Web site boasts about how it’s “advised some of the world’s largest and best-known corporations through significant crises that could have severely damaged business and reputation.”

Under a section titled “Reputation and Crisis Management,” the company lists a wide range of damage- control expertise for crises ranging from “Money laundering” and “Shareholder activism” to “Class action litigation” and, um, “Human rights concerns.” Sadly, Fazio’s aide declined to answer questions about “Reputation and Crisis Management” issues, and no one else was available for comment at press time.

Still, Bites looks forward to learning more about Fazio’s exciting new project, because this story is bound to get lots more coverage than the squib in The Hill and a June 17 column item on page 27 of The Washington Post. Then again, maybe not. Right after “Human rights concerns,” the company’s Web site lists one area of expertise that could make even Team Scoopy think twice: “Inaccurate and unfair investigative journalism.”

Thank you, Howard: If the alliance of Fazio and CACI isn’t creepy enough, how about Howard Kaloogian and Disney? “Move over Michael Moore,” quoth a news release from Kaloogian’s Sacramento-based organization, “Disney and Move America Forward team up to show a brighter side of America [with a] special early screening of America’s Heart & Soul.” Bites wonders if Disney realizes it’s jumping out of the frying pan (by dropping Moore’s Fahrenheit 9/11, which—to paraphrase John Lennon—appears more popular than the Christ) and into the fire (by associating with Kaloogian and his right-wing associates). The screening took place as Bites was going to press, a source of great regret given that the jamboree was supposed to include appearances by Kaloogian, radio hosts Melanie Morgan and Eric Hogue and—get this— Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck. America’s Heart & Soul, by the way, is the work of a director who got his first break with the movie Xanadu, but everybody’s got to start somewhere.

Kaloogian also scored an appearance on Air America, during which he talked to Al Franken about the challenges of fighting to shut down a film without having seen it. Now, Bites would never suggest that Kaloogian’s efforts are largely self-promotional, but it was strange to hear him suggesting to a guest from that the controversy he’s creating is just helping publicize the movie. “Why, you should thank me!” he enthused, to which Franken responded with a droll “thank you, Howard.”

Pet smart: Finally, on behalf of Bites’ dog, Gnaws, here are a few Fourth of July animal safety tips from City Animal Care Services Manager Hector Cazares. Turns out animal control gets many calls each year about pets who have been lost or even killed during attempts to flee from fireworks. Cazares advises keeping pets indoor all day, preferably in a room without windows. You also can use the TV or radio to mask outdoor sounds (Gnaws prefers the WB Channel sitcoms or the new !!! album), talk to your vet about doggie tranquilizers and double-check your pet’s ID. Fortunately, last week Governator Arnold Schwarzenegger backed off on his plan to stop screening strays for microchip IDs and to cut in half the waiting time for putting strays down, so city, county and Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals shelters are still relatively safe places for your best friend to pay a short visit. (You also can go to to view animals currently at the city shelter.)