Last week, members of the Council on American-Islamic Relations launched an investigation into a photograph on the Internet of a Marine mocking an Iraqi child.

The picture shows a Marine with two Iraqi boys, one of whom is holding a sign written in English that states the Marine killed the boy's father and impregnated his sister.

"If the [U.S.] Army is seeking to win the hearts and minds of the Iraqi people, this is the wrong way to accomplish that goal," said Nihad Awad, executive director of the council based in Washington, D.C.

The sign identified the Marine as a lance corporal, a rank that exists only in the Marine Corps.

Corps officials are investigating the photo, said Capt. Daniel McSweeney, a spokesman for the Marines.

GIG-BE win = ad blitz

Did winning the IP router work for the Global Information Grid-Bandwidth Expansion (GIG-BE) program last December give Juniper Networks Inc.'s officials confidence?

They released a new advertising campaign last month titled "Juniper Your Net." The ads blanket various publications and television airwaves, including CNN.

"When you 'Juniper Your Net,' you don't merely route packets, you transform them — turning a commodity into competitive advantage, a cost center into a profit center, a liability into an asset, complexity into simplicity and chaos into stability," states a note on Juniper's Web site explaining the new ad campaign. "In short, it's your place of perfect connectivity."

Winning the GIG-BE contract did more than build company officials' confidence. The ad campaign indicates that it also fattened the company's piggybank.

Earning its stripes

The Pentagon is making its mark as a good workplace.

Earlier this month, readers of Careers and the Disabled magazine selected the Defense Department as public-sector employer of the year. They chose the agency "for its commitment to recruiting, hiring and promoting people with disabilities," said Jim Schneider, the magazine's director of editorial and production.

DOD employs more than 5,870 people with severe disabilities, about 1 percent of its 600,000-person civilian workforce. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld issued a policy last December requiring that the agency hire more workers with disabilities to bring the total to 2 percent.

"They're employed around the world in the full range of DOD's civilian occupations, from pipe fitters and mathematicians to clerks and engineers, from cryptographers and metalworkers to logistics technicians and maintenance personnel," said Clarence Johnson, DOD's principal director for equal opportunity.

AKO cynicism

Service officials boast that Army Knowledge Online (AKO) is host to 1.6 million users. The Web portal processed 1.3 million unique log-ins in March, said Lt. Gen. Steve Boutelle, the Army's chief information officer.

But the Interceptor received an e-mail from an Army Materiel Command employee questioning AKO's popularity. It "may be popular somewhere," the worker said. "But most of the people I work with logged on once or twice to get a user name and that's it. And if it's popular, why does it need standards?"

Officials in Boutelle's office intend to use the service's new Information Technology Enterprise Solutions performance-based contract to develop standards for the portal.

That's not a bad idea. The Interceptor acquired an AKO account Feb. 2 but never logged in and notified CherryRoad Technologies Inc. about the account March 17. The vendor, who helps the Army administer the Web portal, promptly closed it.

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