Abu Ghraib decision reveals what flows downhill

When Pfc. Lynndie England was convicted two years ago, we called her a scapegoat. Now, a military jury at Ft. Meade has found Lt-Col. Steven Jordan—the only officer to be court-martialled over the Abu Ghraib case—guilty of disobeying an order to keep silent about the abuse investigation. But they simply reprimanded him, sparing him a prison term. A day earlier, Aug. 28, he was acquitted of failing to control lower-ranking soldiers who abused and sexually humiliated detainees at the prison near Baghdad in autumn 2003. (The Scotsman, Aug. 30) Contrast the treatment dished out to his subordinates. From AP, Aug. 29:

Twelve U.S. soldiers have been convicted in the Abu Ghraib prisoner abuse scandal:

_ Lt. Col. Steven L. Jordan, a reservist from Fredericksburg, Virginia, who was director of the Iraq prison’s interrogation center, was sentenced to a reprimand for disobeying a general’s order not to discuss the abuse investigation. Jordan, the only officer to face a court-martial in the scandal, was acquitted of failing to control soldiers who abused prisoners.

_ Former Sgt. Santos A. Cardona, a military police dog handler from Fullerton, Caliornia, was convicted of dereliction of duty and aggravated assault for allowing his Belgian shepherd to bark within inches (centimeters) of the face of a kneeling detainee. Cardona was sentenced to 90 days of hard labor with no prison time, reduced in rank one grade to specialist and fined $7,200.

_ Former Spc. Armin Cruz, a military intelligence reservist from Plano, Texas, pleaded guilty to conspiracy and mistreating prisoners and was sentenced in September 2004 to eight months in prison.

_ Former Sgt. Javal Davis, an MP reservist from Roselle, New Jersey, was sentenced to six months in prison after pleading guilty in February 2005 to assault, dereliction of duty and lying to Army investigators. He admitted stepping on the hands and feet of handcuffed detainees and falling on them with his full weight.

_ Pfc. Lynndie England, an MP reservist from Fort Ashby, West Virgina, was sentenced in September 2005 to three years in prison after a jury convicted her of conspiracy, mistreating detainees and committing an indecent act. Photos showing England holding a naked prisoner on a leash, posing with a pyramid of naked detainees and pointing at the genitals of a prisoner were among the images that fueled outrage in the Muslim world and beyond.

_ Former Staff Sgt. Ivan Frederick, an MP reservist from Buckingham, Virginia, was sentenced to 8 1/2 years in prison in October 2004 after pleading guilty to conspiracy, dereliction of duty, maltreatment of detainees and other charges. Frederick said he helped place wires on a detainee’s hands and told him he would be electrocuted if he fell while standing on a box.

_ Former Cpl. Charles Graner Jr., an MP reservist from Uniontown, Pennsylvania, was sentenced in January 2005 to 10 years in prison for assault, battery, conspiracy, maltreatment, indecent acts and dereliction of duty. Prosecutors described Graner as the ringleader of a group of guards who mistreated detainees.

_ Former Spc. Megan Ambuhl Graner, an MP reservist from Centreville, Virginia, now married to Charles Graner. She pleaded guilty in November 2004 to failing to prevent or report maltreatment of prisoners. She was discharged from the Army without prison time.

_ Former Spc. Sabrina Harman, an MP reservist from Lorton, Virginia, was found guilty in May 2005 of conspiracy, maltreating detainees and dereliction of duty. She was sentenced to six months in prison.

_ Former Spc. Roman Krol, a military intelligence reservist from Randolph, Massachusetts, admitted pouring water on naked detainees and forcing them to crawl on the floor. Krol was sentenced in February 2005 to 10 months in prison.

_ Former Spc. Jeremy Sivits, an MP reservist from Hyndman, Pennsylvania, pleaded guilty in May 2004 to four counts for taking pictures of naked Iraqi prisoners being humiliated. He was sentenced to one year in prison.

_ Former Sgt. Michael J. Smith, an MP dog handler from Fort Lauderdale, Florida, was sentenced in March 2006 to 179 days in prison for offenses that included maltreatment, conspiracy and dereliction of duty. The jury convicted Smith of conspiring with Cardona, the dog handler, to frighten detainees into soiling themselves.

Administrative punishments:

_ Former Brig. Gen. Janis Karpinski, who was in charge of all U.S.-run prisons in Iraq, was demoted to colonel for dereliction of duty and an unrelated allegation of shoplifting.

_ Col. Thomas M. Pappas, commander of military intelligence at Abu Ghraib, was reprimanded and fined $8,000 (€5,850) for approving the use of dogs during an interrogation without higher approval.

_ Lt. Col. Jerry Phillabaum was reprimanded and relieved of command of the 320th Military Police Battalion for failing to prevent abuse of detainees.

_ Maj. Donald J. Reese, former commander of the 372nd Military Police Company, was reprimanded for a failure of leadership. Seven of his enlisted soldiers were convicted of crimes at the prison.

See our last posts on Iraq, US atrocities and the torture scandal.