US Army officer gets reprimand in Iraqi death

A conviction in a torture-killing in Iraq… But no prison sentence—just a “reprimand”…

FORT CARSON, Colo., Jan 23 (Reuters) – A U.S. Army jury on Monday ordered a military interrogator be reprimanded but not sent to prison for the killing of an Iraqi general who was stuffed head first into a sleep bag.

Chief Warrant Officer Lewis Welshofer, the highest ranking Army official charged in the death of an Iraqi detainee, also was ordered to forfeit $6,000 in pay and given 60 days of restricted movement.

Welshofer, 43, was convicted of negligent homicide by the same jury on Saturday after it decided the death of the general, who was suspected of leading the Iraqi insurgency along the Syrian border, was not murder. The homicide conviction carried a maximum sentence of three years in jail and dishonorable discharge.

Welshofer placed Maj. Gen. Abed Hamed Mowhoush head-first in a sleeping bag, bound him with electrical cord and sat on his chest during a fatal interrogation in November 2003.

Prosecutors described Welshofer’s sleeping bag technique as “torture” and asked for a two-year jail sentence as well as dishonorable discharge.

“He decided getting the job done was more important than getting the job done right,” said prosecutor Capt. Elana Matt. “The reputation of the Army has been eroded by Mr. Welshofer both here and around the world.”


Welshofer’s lead defense attorney, Frank Spinner, said the military chain of command failed to give clear guidance to soldiers on the ground in Iraq.

Welshofer testified that he believed his techniques were authorized.

“Chief Welshofer fought for his country and then they told him he was a criminal,” Spinner said. “When you send men and women in to fight, you’ve got to give them clear rules.”

Welshofer’s sentence will be reviewed by Fort Carson’s commander, Maj. Gen. Robert W. Mixon, who has the power to lighten it further or dismiss it altogether.

Welshofer will continue to serve in the post’s security office, is up for promotion and can retire in July.

See our last post on the torture scandal.