Colonel Waits For Decision On Abu Ghraib




 
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November 24th, 2006  
Team Infidel
 
 

Topic: Colonel Waits For Decision On Abu Ghraib


Washington Times
November 24, 2006
Pg. B1

By David Dishneau, Associated Press
FORT MEADE, Md. -- The buck stops with Lt. Col. Steven Lee Jordan.
Eleven U.S. soldiers -- all of them from the enlisted ranks -- have been convicted in the Abu Ghraib prison scandal, with the harshest sentence a 10-year prison term handed out to a corporal. A general and other officers have received reprimands or demotions that ended or blighted their careers.
But only one officer -- Col. Jordan, a 50-year-old Army reservist from Virginia who ran the interrogation center at the Iraqi prison -- faces criminal charges. And unless some startling new information comes to light, it appears that this is as high up the chain of command as criminal charges will go.
Military prosecutors have put Col. Jordan in this solitary position for one reason: They think he is the man who allowed the abuse at Abu Ghraib to happen.
Col. Jordan has not been accused of personally torturing or humiliating prisoners. Nor is he seen in any of the photos that stunned Americans, embittered the country's foes, infuriated the Middle East and compromised the U.S. campaign for democracy in Iraq.
But Col. Jordan -- a father of three once regarded by superiors as shrewd, focused and possessing extraordinary leadership ability and "impeccable moral standards" -- is accused of failing to exert his authority as the handling of prisoners descended into chaos.
Col. Jordan is charged with 12 counts that carry a total of 42 years behind bars. He is awaiting a decision on whether he will be court-martialed.
The charges include dereliction of duty and cruelty and maltreatment. The government says Col. Jordan's actions or inaction subjected detainees to forced nudity and intimidation by dogs. He also is accused of lying to investigators when he denied that he saw detainees stripped naked or abused.
His defense, revealed at a preliminary hearing in October, is that Col. Jordan had no operational control over interrogations and spent much of his time trying to improve living conditions for troops.
Prosecutors would not comment on the case, and Col. Jordan declined requests for interviews from the Associated Press. The leader of his defense team, Capt. Samuel Spitzberg, also refused to comment publicly.
But Maj. Gen. George R. Fay and Lt. Gen. Anthony R. Jones, who investigated the scandal, concluded that Col. Jordan's "tacit approval" of violence by military police (MP) during an episode in November 2003 "can be pointed to as the causative factor that set the stage for the abuses that followed for days afterward" -- namely, the ugly photos.
The episode on Nov. 24, 2003, began when a detainee shot at an MP with a pistol smuggled into the prison by an Iraqi police officer. In reaction, the MPs rounded up 11 Iraqi police officers, and Col. Jordan, the senior officer present, ordered interrogators to screen them.
The Iraqis were strip-searched with female soldiers present. Some were kept naked during interrogations, according to the investigators' report. The report said no one appeared to be in charge, and there was a widely held but mistaken impression that the rules prohibiting such treatment had been suspended. According to the investigators, Col. Jordan should have known better and restored order.
"Lt. Col. Jordan is responsible for allowing the chaotic situation, the unauthorized nakedness and resultant humiliation, and the military working dog abuses that occurred that night," the report said.
The report also said Col. Jordan was deceitful under questioning, and "his recollection of facts, statements and incidents were always recounted to avoid blame or responsibility."
Priti Patel, a lawyer with New York-based Human Rights First, said it would be unfortunate to blame the abusive environment at Abu Ghraib on Col. Jordan.
"If the United States is really serious about really ending its torture in treatment and interrogation policy and holding people responsible for that policy fully accountable, then it needs to assess responsibility higher than Lt. Col. Jordan," Ms. Patel said.
But Eugene R. Fidell, president of the National Institute of Military Justice in Northwest, said the fact that higher-ups received administrative rather than judicial punishment does not mean crimes were swept under the rug.
"You couldn't make an informed judgment without seeing all the facts in all of the cases," he said.
He noted that it is also well-established under the military justice code that an officer can be criminally charged if he knew or should have known what was going on and permitted it to happen.
For now, Col. Jordan remains on active duty with the Intelligence and Security Command at Fort Belvoir.
Col. Jordan was picked to head Abu Ghraib's newly created interrogation center by top U.S. intelligence commanders in Baghdad.
Some of the enlisted soldiers who met Col. Jordan after he arrived at Abu Ghraib Sept. 17, 2003, portrayed him at the preliminary hearing as a friend to the little guy. He obtained furniture, televisions, exercise gear and flak vests for troops who felt forgotten and overwhelmed at the crowded prison.
But the investigators called Col. Jordan "a poor choice" to run the center, citing his status as a civil-affairs officer with no interrogation training. Col. Jordan "gravitated to what he knew, and what he was comfortable with" -- largely soldier welfare -- and used "extremely poor judgment" in a number of situations, including what the investigators called the "milestone event" in November 2003.
His popularity with the soldiers stoked discord between Col. Jordan and Col. Thomas M. Pappas, commander of an intelligence brigade and the highest-ranking officer at Abu Ghraib. The conflict divided soldiers' loyalty and prompted commanders to move Col. Jordan after about three months to another intelligence job in Baghdad, according to investigators.
 


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Hope this truth gets out