The highest-ranking officer charged with crimes at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq allowed detainee abuses and then lied about it, a general who investigated the scandal testified.
Major General George Fay, who wrote a report on mistreatment of detainees at the prison, testified at a hearing on Monday to determine whether the director of the prison's interrogation center should be court-martialed.
Fay said his investigation found that Lieutenant Colonel Steven Jordan was in charge of the center, despite Jordan's insistence to Fay that he was just a liaison between the center and superior officers.
Fay said Jordan knew about some of the abuses and did not stop them. He said Jordan "told us a story that was deceptive and it was misleading, and he tried to avoid responsibility for his role at Abu Ghraib."
Jordan, 50, of Fredericksburg, Virginia, is charged with 12 offenses, including one count of cruelty and maltreatment for allegedly subjecting detainees to forced nudity and intimidation by dogs. He faces a maximum of 42 years in prison if convicted of all counts.
Fay said that when he asked Jordan if he had seen prisoners stripped naked, Jordan told him he had, but that the nudity had nothing to do with interrogations.
Under cross-examination, Fay acknowledged that Jordan had reported some episodes of abuse. He also testified that the Pentagon's rules regarding harsh interrogation techniques, such as the use of dogs, had gone through several rapid changes in late 2003, confounding workers at Abu Ghraib.
"It was a confusing situation," Fay said.
Defense attorney Major Kris Poppe said in opening statements that Jordan was thrust into an unfamiliar, ill-defined role in an ad hoc command structure. Poppe said most of the abuses at Abu Ghraib were committed by rogue military police soldiers who were not under Jordan's command.
"In the end, we believe the story will show to you that Colonel Jordan did not commit criminal misconduct," Poppe told hearing officer Colonel Daniel Cummings.
Prosecutor Lieutenant Colonel John Tracy said Jordan had embarrassed the Army by ignoring the abuse. He said Jordan had not personally committed egregious acts but that he created an atmosphere conducive to mistreatment.
Jordan, a military intelligence reservist, was director of the interrogation center from the middle of September through late November 2003, when detainees were physically abused, threatened with dogs and sexually humiliated. He is now assigned to the Intelligence and Security Command at Fort Belvoir, Virginia.
Jordan's supervisor at Abu Ghraib, Colonel Thomas Pappas, was reprimanded and fined US$8,000 for once approving the use of dogs during an interrogation without higher approval. Several other officers have been reprimanded for their role in the abuse.
Eleven lower-ranking soldiers have also been convicted in the scandal.