- The Washington Times - Friday, October 20, 2006

1:10 p.m.

FORT MEADE, Md. — A military hearing for the highest-ranking officer charged with mistreating detainees at Abu Ghraib ended this morning with the defense arguing that the government had failed to connect Lt. Col. Steven L. Jordan to any abuses at the prison in Iraq.

A decision is expected by early next month on whether Lt. Col. Jordan, an Army reservist from Fredericksburg, Va., will be court-martialed for any of 12 charges.

Lt. Col. Jordan, 50, is accused of directing interrogations in which detainees were stripped naked and threatened by dogs, and then lying about it to investigators.

His military defense team contends that Lt. Col. Jordan wasn’t in charge of interrogators, despite his director’s title, and therefore wasn’t responsible for any abuses they committed.

“No direct line, certainly, no dotted line, no blurry line — there has been no line drawn between Lt. Col. Jordan and detainee abuse,” Maj. Kris Poppe said in his 20-minute closing argument on the fifth day of the Article 32 investigation.

Prosecutor Lt. Col. John P. Tracy said that Lt. Col. Jordan, a civil affairs officer with military-intelligence training, had been sent to Abu Ghraib in September 2003 to run a newly created interrogation center and didn’t perform his duties properly.

“He didn’t do the job, which resulted in criminality,” Lt. Col. Tracy said.

During the hearing, witnesses gave conflicting testimony about Lt. Col. Jordan’s role at Abu Ghraib.

The strongest evidence that he ignored abuses came from Capt. Donald Reese, former commander of the 372nd Military Police Company, who testified that Lt. Col. Jordan was a daily visitor to the prison’s “hard site,” where some prisoners were stripped naked as an interrogation technique.

The presiding officer of the hearing, Col. Daniel Cummings, will make a written recommendation to Gen. Guy Swann, commander of the Military District of Washington, on whether any of the charges should be sustained.

Gen. Swann probably will decide by early next month whether Lt. Col. Jordan should be tried, said Lt. Col. Patricia Lewis, deputy staff judge advocate for the Military District of Washington.

Lt. Col. Jordan is the highest-ranking U.S. soldier, and the first officer, charged with crimes stemming from the physical abuse and sexual humiliation of Abu Ghraib detainees.

He faces up to 42 years in prison if convicted of all counts.

Eleven enlisted soldiers have been convicted of crimes at Abu Ghraib, and several officers above Lt. Col. Jordan have been reprimanded.

His is the last remaining active investigation in the scandal, Lt. Col. Lewis said Thursday.

A government witness testified Thursday that Lt. Col. Jordan’s personality conflict with Col. Thomas Pappas, then commander of the 205th Military Intelligence Brigade, split soldiers’ loyalty at Abu Ghraib and forced their top commander to yank Lt. Col. Jordan back to Baghdad.

The tension began when Lt. Col. Jordan was sent to Abu Ghraib in September 2003 to direct interrogations and instead focused first on protecting the embattled troops, retired Col. Steven Boltz said.

Lt. Col. Jordan was recalled to headquarters about three months later because “the personality conflict had gotten to a point that it was dividing soldiers’ loyalty,” Col. Boltz testified by telephone from Heidelberg, Germany. “When soldiers are aware of conflict, it’s not good for morale and discipline.”

Col. Boltz served as deputy commander of U.S. military intelligence operations in Iraq in the latter half of 2003.

He said he had recommended Lt. Col. Jordan, an officer he knew well and respected, to run the newly created Joint Interrogation and Debriefing Center in September 2003.

The center was designed to consolidate intelligence gathering for the war in Iraq, partly in hopes of curbing insurgents who had made the prison near Baghdad one of their targets.

Lt. Col. Jordan is charged with 12 offenses, including one count of cruelty and maltreatment.

The other offenses are three counts of dereliction of duty, two counts of making false official statements, two counts of willfully disobeying orders, two counts of false swearing and two counts of fraud for overbilling the government a total of $571 for vehicle repairs.

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