Sgt. Accused of Abuse Says He's Scapegoat

by TChris

Did Army Reserve Staff Sgt. Ivan "Chip" Frederick violate military rules by abusing Iraqi prisoners of war, or is he a scapegoat who merely followed orders? Frederick's journal entries indicate that he complained to the acting battalion commander about conditions at the Abu Ghraib prison near Baghdad, including confinement of prisoners in damp and unventillated three-by-three foot cells. He says the commander responded: "I don't care if he has to sleep standing up."

The claim that "I was following orders" doesn't justify humiliating and degrading prisoners, or inflicting the kind of abuse reported here. Nor can the abuse of prisoners be written off as harmless "pranks" as some family members of the accused soldiers have suggested. But responsibility doesn't rest solely with soldiers like Frederick if his superiors knew what was happening and did nothing to prevent it, or if they required him to be abusive. Frederick's civilian lawyer, Gary Myers, said Frederick didn't intend to humiliate any prisoners until higher-ranking officers told him what to do.

Frederick's journal entries may be self-serving -- he didn't start the journal until military investigators questioned him in January -- but, if true, the entries support his claim that his requests for guidance were met with indifference.

He wrote that he questioned the inmates' treatment and asked for standard operating procedures when his unit relieved the 72nd Military Police Company at the prison last fall. His requests were ignored until Jan. 19, five days after his first visit from investigators, when he found the Geneva Convention rules for handling prisoners of war on the Internet, Frederick wrote.

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