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US Army officer to be court-martialed for role in Abu Ghraib abuses

[JURIST] The US Army [official website] announced Friday that it will proceed to court-martial Lt. Col. Steven Lee Jordan [Wikipedia profile] for his alleged role in the Abu Ghraib [JURIST news archive] prisoner abuse scandal. Jordan, the highest-ranking Army officer to face criminal charges as a result of the prisoner abuse scandal, was charged [JURIST report] in April of 2006 with seven violations of the Uniform Code of Military Justice [text] including disobeying a superior commissioned officer, dereliction of duty, failure to obey a regulation, false swearing, cruelty and maltreatment, and interfering with an investigation. If found guilty, Jordan faces a possibly maximum prison term of 22 years. Army investigators concluded that Jordan, in one particular episode, gave military police "tacit approval" for violence against prisoners, which contributed to a downward spiral of treatment of detainees.

Jordan, a reservist trained as a civil affairs officer and former head of interrogation operations at Abu Ghraib, alleged at his Article 32 hearing [JAG backgrounder; JURIST report] that another officer, Col. Thomas Pappas [Wikipedia profile], was actually in charge of Abu Ghraib's Joint Interrogation Debriefing Center [GlobalSecurity backgrounder]. Maj. Gen. Antonio Taguba [Times profile], who investigated the Abu Ghraib abuses, recommended [Taguba Report, PDF] in 2004 that Jordan be relieved from duty and reprimanded for "failing to ensure that Soldiers under his direct control knew, understood, and followed the protections afforded to detainees in the Geneva Convention Relative to the Treatment of Prisoners of War," and "failing to properly supervise Soldiers under his direct authority." A subsequent report [JURIST report; Fay Report, PDF] recommended that both Jordan and Pappas be punished for their roles in the abuse scandal. So far eleven US enlisted soldiers have been convicted and several officers, including Col. Janis Karpinski [JURIST news archive], have been reprimanded and demoted for their participation in the Abu Ghraib prison scandal. AP has more.

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