The only U.S. military officer charged with crimes in the Abu Ghraib prison abuse scandal took the witness stand in a pretrial hearing Monday and contradicted the testimony of two generals sent by the Pentagon to investigate the incident in 2004.
Lt. Col. Steven Jordan, who wants a military judge to throw out statements he made denying that he saw detainees at the prison mistreated, said Maj. Gen. George Fay never read him his rights, and that Maj. Gen. Antonio Taguba only did so at the end of four lengthy interviews.
Both generals conducted their own reviews of potential abuses by military police and intelligence officers at the prison outside of Baghdad. Both men testified Monday that they had advised Jordan of his rights under military law during his interviews in 2004.
Asked by his defense lawyer if Fay advised him of his rights, Jordan replied emphatically, in a strong voice, "No, sir, he did not."
Taguba testified that Jordan is "a very good story teller." Taguba, who retired from the Army in January, said he interviewed Jordan four times in Kuwait in February 2004. Taguba said when asked repeatedly about his duty assignment at the prison he would, "skirt around ... contradicting himself."
Taguba said he read Jordan his rights only after concluding the intelligence officer "wasn't going to be forthcoming" and was not telling the truth about his duty assignment at the prison.
But Jordan's military defense attorneys claim Taguba should have treated Jordan like a suspect and read him his rights, which include the right not to answer questions, because other witnesses had implicated the military intelligence soldiers he commanded in the abuse.
Reprimanded commanding officer testifies
Jordan's commanding officer at Abu Ghraib, Col. Thomas Pappas, head of the 205th Military Intelligence Brigade, testified by telephone from Fort Knox.
Pappas, who was also interviewed by Taguba and Fay, said he was never advised of his rights by the two generals in his nearly dozen interviews.
Pappas has not been charged with a crime but was reprimanded and fined $8,000 for once approving the use of dogs during an interrogation without higher approval.
The defense attorneys argue that Jordan was not involved in interrogations and that a majority of the abusive activity was committed by military police at the prison who were not under his command.
This was Jordan's first time testifying at his pretrial Article 32 hearing, the military equivalent of a grand jury proceeding, at historic Fort McNair in Washington.
The military judge, Col. Stephen Henley, is expected to rule on the motions to suppress the statements after reviewing further evidence at a May 15 pretrial hearing.
Jordan's court-martial trial is scheduled for July.
Jordan also testified Monday, "I have never seen the photos," referring to the infamous pictures and video clips of abuse of detainees at the prison outside Baghdad taken by military police guards.
Fay had testified, at another hearing last year, that Jordan, who directed the interrogation center at Abu Ghraib, had allowed detainee abuses and then lied about it.
Fay, in a report on the prison scandal, wrote that Jordan, a military intelligence reservist, was in charge of the Joint Interrogation Debriefing Center despite Jordan's insistence that he was just a liaison between the center and superior officers. Fay had testified that he believes Jordan knew about some of the abuses and did not stop some of them.
Accused of failure to exert authority, lying
Jordan is accused of failing to exert his authority as prisoners were stripped naked, photographed in humiliating poses and intimidated by military working dogs. He also is accused of lying to investigators about abuses he allegedly witnessed.
The specific charges include cruelty and maltreatment, disobeying a superior officer, dereliction of duty and making false statements. He could be sentenced to 22 years in prison if convicted.
Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez, the commander in Iraq at the time, and other senior officers have been cleared of responsibility in the Abu Ghraib scandal. Sanchez may be called as a witness in Jordan's court-martial.
A string of lower-ranking soldiers, described by former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld as "a few bad apples," have faced courts-martial.
Spc. Charles Graner and his girlfriend of the time, Pvt. Lynndie England, became the public face of the abuse scandal, and both were jailed.
Jordan, a 50-year-old reservist from northern Virginia, isn't in custody but remains on involuntary extended active duty at the Intelligence and Security Command at Fort Belvoir, Va.