The highest-ranking Army reservist charged with abusing Iraqi detainees at Abu Ghraib prison said Monday he will plead guilty to some offenses because “what I did was a violation of law.”
Staff Sgt. Ivan L. “Chip” Frederick II, of the Maryland-based 372nd Military Police Company, said in a written statement e-mailed to The Associated Press by his attorney: “I have accepted responsibility for my actions at Abu Ghraib prison. I will be pleading guilty to certain charges because I have concluded that what I did was a violation of law.”
The three-paragraph statement did not specify the charges to which Frederick will plead guilty, and it wasn’t clear whether he would still contest any of the allegations. He is charged with maltreating detainees, conspiracy to maltreat detainees, dereliction of duty and wrongfully committing an indecent act.
Frederick, 37, of Buckingham, Va., has a pretrial hearing scheduled for Tuesday in Mannheim, Germany.
His civilian attorney, Gary Myers, did not immediately respond to e-mailed questions about Frederick’s case. Telephone calls to Myers’ hotel room in Mannheim went unanswered.
One of seven charged
Frederick, a Virginia state prison guard in civilian life, is among seven members of the Cresaptown, Md.-based 372nd charged in the scandal, which involves physical abuse and sexual humiliation of prisoners.
He would be the second of the seven to admit wrongdoing. Spc. Jeremy C. Sivits of Hyndman, Pa., pleaded guilty to three abuse charges in May and was sentenced to a year in prison.
Frederick, who worked as a prison guard in Virginia, was the senior enlisted soldier at the Abu Ghraib prison between October and December, when the mistreatment allegedly occurred.
He was among the first to be publicly identified by CBS’ “60 Minutes II” when it broke the story April 28.
Frederick is accused of having helped force a prisoner to stand on a box with wires placed on his hands, a scene displayed in one of the photos from the prison. Frederick’s charge sheet says the prisoner was told he would be electrocuted if he fell off the box, although the wires were not connected to a power source.
Frederick also is accused of forcing naked detainees into a pyramid position and photographing the scene. He also allegedly ordered detainees to masturbate in front of other prisoners and guards, posing two detainees to simulate oral sex while photographing them.
One photo from the prison shows Frederick standing behind a naked prisoner smeared with feces. Frederick’s mother, Jo Ann Frederick, has said the inmate spread the feces on himself.
She said on Monday that she did not know what offenses her son planned to acknowledge.
“I can only say that Chip has told us things, and it’s not that it was so much hands-on things, but he is responsible for what some of the others did, and some of the things he did he feels were not right,” she said.
He says abuse was ordered
Frederick has claimed the abusive treatment was orchestrated by military intelligence officers rather than MPs, according to a diary his family made available.
In his statement Monday, Frederick said he hoped that “all those within the Army who contributed to or participated in the chaos that was Abu Ghraib” accept responsibility.
He also expressed concern about Spc. Joseph M. Darby, a member of the 372nd credited with tipping off Army investigators to the abuse. Relatives of Darby said last week that he is in protective military custody, partly because of threats from people in their communities who believe he betrayed his fellow soldiers.
Frederick said he harbored no ill will toward Darby: “He did what he thought was right, and it was right,” Frederick wrote.
In Mannheim on Monday, a military judge hearing evidence in the abuse cases demanded that prosecutors speed up the investigation. Col. James Pohl expressed displeasure after being told a lone Army criminal investigator was reviewing thousands of pages of records contained in a secret computer server at Abu Ghraib.