[JURIST] US Army prosecutors argued in a hearing Monday that an officer overseeing interrogations at Iraq's Abu Ghraib prison [JURIST news archive] should face a court-martial for his willful blindness toward prisoner abuse, while a defense attorney countered that most of the military police officers who abused prisoners were not under his client's command. Lt. Col. Steven L. Jordan [Wikipedia profile; JURIST news archive], former director of the Joint Interrogation Debriefing Center [GlobalSecurity backgrounder], is the highest-ranking officer charged with crimes [JURIST report] at Abu Ghraib, including three counts of dereliction of duty, two counts of making false official statements, two counts of willfully disobeying orders and one count of cruelty and mistreatment [UCMJ text].
Jordan's Article 32 hearing [JAG backgrounder] - the military equivalent of a civilian grand jury proceeding - is expected to last up to six days, with testimony from about 50 witnesses. If court-martialed and convicted on all 12 counts, Jordan could be sentenced to a maximum of 42 years in prison. While 11 soldiers and lower-ranking officers have been convicted in connection abuses at Abu Ghraib, superior officers have so far only received punishments such as reprimands, fines and being relieved of command [JURIST report]. A 2004 Army report [PDF text; JURIST report] recommended that Jordan and his superior officer be punished for their role in the abuse scandal. AP has more.