Thursday, January 10, 2008
Officer Cleared in Abu Ghraib Case
The only officer charged in the Abu Ghraib prisoner abuse scandal has been cleared of criminal wrongdoing, his attorney said Thursday. A military jury convicted Army Lt. Col. Steven L. Jordan in August of disobeying an order to not talk about an investigation into the abuse of Iraqi prisoners in the fall of 2003. Jordan was acquitted of allegations that he failed to supervise 11 lower-ranking soldiers previously convicted for their roles at Abu Ghraib.
Now the conviction has been thrown out. Maj. Gen. Richard J. Rowe, commanding general of the Military District of Washington, sent Jordan's attorney a memo Tuesday saying the criminal charge has been dismissed. Although a military jury voted to convict Jordan and recommended a criminal reprimand, Rowe had the final say.
The document said simply that the finding of guilty and the sentence had been "disapproved" and that the charges were dismissed, said Maj. Kris Poppe, Jordan's attorney.
Instead of the criminal reprimand, Rowe issued an administrative reprimand that questions Jordan's decision to disobey the order from Maj. Gen. George Fay, who investigated the abuses. The action means Jordan will have no criminal conviction on his record.
Poppe had asked Rowe in a letter last week to dismiss the conviction. Jordan acknowledged he did not follow Fay's order, but he does not believe he committed a crime, Poppe said.
"We simply asked the convening authority, Maj. Gen. Rowe, to consider the fact that Col. Jordan has faced these very serious charges for a long period of time, that he had been found not guilty of any offense related to the abuse of detainees, and that he had a stellar record," Poppe said. "Under the whole circumstances ... it would be unjust to maintain that conviction."
The Abu Ghraib scandal erupted in 2004 with the release of pictures of grinning U.S. soldiers posing with detainees, some naked, being held on leashes or in painful and sexually humiliating positions.
Like Jordan, several other officers were reprimanded administratively for their roles at Abu Ghraib. The highest-ranking soldier to be convicted of a crime was former Staff Sgt. Ivan L. Frederick, a military police reservist, who was paroled in October from military prison after serving about three years of an eight-year sentence.
Jordan, 51, of Fredericksburg, Va., could not be reached for comment, but told The Washington Post that the Army "finally got it right."
"I'm still a little bit shocked by it all, but I'm gratified and glad that General Rowe saw it for what it really is," Jordan told the newspaper. "I don't know if any officer needed to be held accountable, but I obviously don't believe it should have been me."
Poppe said Jordan would remain on active duty at Fort Belvoir, Va., until he retires later this year.
...with full benefits.
Well, good for you, LTC Jordan. I hope you have something to be proud of.