Army Officials to Pursue Charges Against Abu Ghraib Officer
Tuesday, April 25, 2006; 6:11 PM
Army officials plan to pursue criminal charges against a military intelligence officer who was the second-in-charge of interrogation operations at the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq, his lawyer said today.
The lawyer for Lt. Col. Steven L. Jordan said that he has been notified that Army officials plan to approve a series of charges against his client by Friday, including allegations of dereliction of duty, conduct unbecoming an officer, lying to investigators and a separate fraud charge that is unrelated to the Abu Ghraib abuse.
Jordan would be the highest-ranking Army officer tried in connection with the abuses at Abu Ghraib if the charges are approved and a preliminary investigation -- known as an Article 32 hearing -- finds that the case should be sent to court-martial.
"We're thankful the decision has finally been made, and we look forward to finally reviewing the evidence and making some decisions," said the lawyer, Samuel Spitzberg.
Maj. Wayne Marotto, an Army spokesman at the Pentagon, said today that the disposition of alleged offenses against Lt. Col. Jordan "are still under consideration by the chain of command," and Lt. Col. Shawn Jirik at the Military District of Washington said the charges are under review but have not been finalized.
Jordan was the second-highest ranking military intelligence officer at the prison and worked under Col. Thomas M. Pappas, who took over the entire operation of the prison in late 2003 when top military officials wanted to get better intelligence out of detainees housed there. Investigators early on found inconsistencies in Jordan's statements after the abuse was discovered, but he was never accused of personally abusing detainees.
Pappas is the highest-ranking officer to face punishment for actual abuses at the prison but he was not charged with crimes. He was reprimanded and fined $8,000 for once approving the use of dogs on a high-value detainee without properly seeking the permission of top officers in Baghdad. Pappas later received immunity to testify at courts-martial against the military police dog handlers whose animals were used to frighten other high-value detainees. Jordan has not been offered such an administrative punishment or an immunity arrangement.
Seven low-ranking military police soldiers and a handful of other low-ranking soldiers have been prosecuted and found guilty of abuses at the prison. The longest sentence was given to Pvt. Charles Graner, who got 10 years in a military prison.
In the first major inquiry into the abuses at Abu Ghraib in 2004, Army Maj. Gen. Antonio Taguba concluded that Jordan, Pappas and two civilian contractors "were either directly or indirectly responsible for the abuses at Abu Ghraib" and faulted Jordan for failing to supervise his subordinates when he was the director of the Joint Interrogation and Debriefing Center at the facility. Taguba also believed Jordan lied to investigators about his true role at the facility.
A later inquiry by a group of Army generals revealed that Jordan was sent to Abu Ghraib to run the interrogation center in September 2003 but had little experience with military intelligence and interrogations, having been a civil affairs officer for nearly a decade prior. That inquiry found Jordan responsible for not ensuring military intelligence and military police soldiers knew the proper limits in dealing with detainees and for failing to prevent "unauthorized nakedness" and "military working dog abuses" that arose one night in November when a detainee got a gun and shot at the soldiers.