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Abu Ghraib officer to be court-martialed

The only officer criminally charged in the Abu Ghraib prisoner-abuse scandal will be court-martialed on eight charges including cruelty and maltreatment of detainees, an Army spokesman said Friday.
Lt. Col. Steven Jordan, the former head of the interrogation center at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq, left, with legal counsel Capt. Samuel Spitzberg, arrives at a military court in this Oct. 20 photo at Fort George G. Meade in Maryland.Steve Ruark / AP
/ Source: The Associated Press

The only U.S. military officer charged with a crime in the Abu Ghraib scandal will be court-martialed on eight charges, including cruelty and maltreatment of prisoners, the Army said Friday.

Lt. Col. Steven Lee Jordan, a 50-year-old reservist from Virginia who ran the interrogation center at the Iraqi prison, was accused of failing to exert his authority as the place descended into chaos, with prisoners stripped naked, photographed in humiliating poses and intimidated by snarling dogs. He was also charged with lying to investigators.

He has not been accused of personally torturing or humiliating prisoners, and was not pictured in any of the photos that embarrassed the Pentagon and shocked the Muslim world.

Maj. Gen. Guy C. Swann, commander of the Military District of Washington, decided Jordan must stand trial, Army spokesman Col. Jim Yonts told The Associated Press.

Jordan was charged in April with 12 offenses. Swann dismissed four of them after Jordan was given an Article 32 hearing, the military equivalent of a civilian preliminary hearing, in October. Most of the dropped charges stemmed from allegations that Jordan had falsified vehicle repair records.

Besides cruelty and maltreatment, the charges include disobeying a superior officer, willful dereliction of duty and making false statements. The remaining charges carry a total maximum prison term of 22 years.

Jordan's military lawyers did not immediately return calls for comment.

At his October hearing, Jordan said he had no operational control over interrogations and spent much of his time trying to improve soldiers' deplorable living conditions.

The government alleges Jordan's actions or inaction subjected detainees to forced nudity and intimidation by dogs. He also is accused of lying to investigators in denying that he saw any abuse.

‘Set the stage for the abuses’
Jordan's "tacit approval" of violence by military police 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," concluded Maj. Gen. George R. Fay and Lt. Gen. Anthony R. Jones, who investigated the scandal.

Eleven other U.S. soldiers — all from the enlisted ranks — have been convicted in the Abu Ghraib prison scandal, with former Cpl. Charles A. Graner Jr. receiving the harshest sentence, a 10-year prison term.

A general and other officers have received reprimands or demotions that ended or blighted their careers.

Since he was charged in April, Jordan has been on active duty with the Intelligence and Security Command at Fort Belvoir, Va.