Trial Begins for Former Abu Ghraib Officer
Monday, Lt. Army Lt. Col. Steven L. Jordan goes on trial at Ft. Meade for his role in the Abu Ghraib prison scandal. He is the only officer charged. His claim to fame? According to the charges against him, he approved the use of dogs and nudity to intimidate the prisoners.
If convicted on all counts, Jordan faces 16 1/2 years in prison.
It's not just cooperators testifying against him. Maj. Gen. George R. Fay who investigated the abuses and wrote a report found:
Jordan's tacit approval of violence during a weapons search on Nov. 24, 2003, "set the stage for the abuses that followed for days afterward."
Jordan has a two-fold defense.
Jordan's defense, led by Capt. Samuel Spitzberg, will argue that although he was the titular head of the interrogation center, he spent most of his time trying to improve soldiers' deplorable living conditions.
At a hearing in October, the defense contended that interrogation conditions were set by two other officers: Col. Thomas Pappas, an intelligence brigade commander who was the highest-ranking officer at Abu Ghraib, and Capt. Carolyn Wood, leader of a unit within the interrogation center called the Interrogation Command Element.
Jordan maintains he's a scapegoat and was targeted because he's a reservist.
Jordan's case isn't just old news.
Kurt Goering, director of research and policy at Amnesty International USA, said the trial could shed light on high-level approval of interrogation tactics tantamount to torture.
"There is quite a bit of evidence to suggest that it goes all the way to President Bush and (former Defense Secretary) Donald Rumsfeld," Goering said. "There is today, still, a continuing failure to hold these officials at the highest levels responsible."
If Jordan is found guilty, I hope he joins Lt. Charles Graner who is serving ten years for his part in the disgusting conduct.
In all, 11 enlisted soldiers have been convicted.
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