FORT MEADE, Md. (AP) — Army Lt. Col. Steven Jordan was in charge of an Abu Ghraib cellblock where detainees were abused in 2003, a soldier who participated in the mistreatment testified yesterday at Col. Jordan's court-martial.
Pvt. Ivan Frederick's testimony supported a charge that Col. Jordan, then director of the interrogation center at the prison in Iraq, was derelict in his duty to properly train and supervise soldiers under his control in following interrogation rules.
Prosecutors contend that Col. Jordan, a 51-year-old reservist from Fredericksburg, Va., was a failed leader whose decisions created an atmosphere for abuse. He faces up to 8½ years in prison if convicted on all four counts.
Defense attorneys contend that Col. Jordan, a civil affairs officer with a military-intelligence background, took no part in interrogations and had no authority over the military police through their chain of command.
Col. Jordan's purported offenses also include illegally authorizing dogs for interrogations of Iraqi correctional officers after a detainee shot at Col. Jordan and some MPs with a smuggled handgun on Nov. 24, 2003.
Pvt. Frederick is a military police reservist from Buckingham, Va., now serving an 8-year sentence at Fort Leavenworth. In the fall of 2003, he was a staff sergeant in charge of night-shift MPs at the prison's "hard site," a building that included tier 1A, the cellblock where prisoners deemed to be of potential intelligence value were held.
Appearing as a prosecution witness on the third day of the trial, Pvt. Frederick testified he thought that Col. Jordan, then director of the prison's interrogation center, was the "OIC" or officer-in-charge of tier 1A in October 2003. By mid-November, Col. Jordan had been replaced by Col. Thomas Pappas as director of the interrogation center.
Pvt. Frederick also said Col. Jordan approved of, and participated in, Pvt. Frederick's ill-fated plan to have MPs disarm the detainee with a gun on the night of Nov. 24 without involving tactical officers with more experience.
"He said, 'Well, that sounds like a plan. Let's go forth with it,' " Pvt. Frederick said.
The attempt got out of hand when the inmate fired at MPs, who then returned fire and wounded the prisoner before subduing him.
Another prosecution witness, Michael J. Eckroth, who was an Army interrogator at Abu Ghraib, testified that some of those who were subsequently rounded up for questioning about the smuggled gun were naked in the prison hallway when he came upon the scene, and that Col. Jordan "was the highest-ranking officer there."
Earlier in the day, Lt. Col. David DiNenna, who oversaw MP operations at the prison, testified that the Coalition Provisional Authority, headed by Bush administration appointee L. Paul Bremer III, had put military intelligence soldiers, instead of MPs, in charge of tier 1A.
"CPA turned over tier 1A to MI for their use," Col. DiNenna, testifying as a prosecution witness, said.
Under cross-examination, Col. DiNenna acknowledged that MPs remained responsible for prisoner confinement and feeding, and also controlled access to the hard site.
Col. DiNenna said that when he learned about the Nov. 24 shooting, he was upset because the soldiers had formulated their own plan for disarming the prisoner instead of letting tactical operations specialists do it. Tactical officers might have taken better steps to minimize the danger, he said.
Col. Jordan is charged with disobeying an order barring him from discussing the investigation with others, an offense punishable by up to five years in prison; failure to obey a regulation, punishable by up to two years; cruelty and maltreatment of detainees, punishable by up to one year; and dereliction of duty, punishable by up to six months.
He is the only officer among the 12 persons charged in the scandal, and the last to go to trial.
Eleven enlisted soldiers have been convicted of crimes, with the longest sentence, 10 years, given to former Cpl. Charles Graner Jr., of Uniontown, Pa., in January 2005.