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Abu Ghraib Officer Confused About Job

October 18, 2006

FORT MEADE, Md. (AP) _ An Army Reserve officer accused of ignoring abuses of Iraqi detainees at Abu Ghraib prison spent most of his time improving living conditions for troops and did not appear to be in charge of interrogations, defense witnesses testified Wednesday.

``He mentioned something to the effect he wasn’t exactly sure what his job was. He was a little uncertain of what his role was or who he worked for,″ said Staff Sgt. Jeff Day, who was an interrogator.

Lt. Col. Steven L. Jordan, director of the prison’s interrogation center, neither participated in nor gave instructions about interrogations, Day testified on the third day of the officer’s Article 32 investigation, the military equivalent of a grand jury hearing.

The hearing is to determine whether Jordan, the highest-ranking soldier charged in the scandal, should be court-martialed for any of the 12 charges he faces. He could face up to 42 years in prison if convicted.

A former military police commander testified earlier in the day that Jordan was a daily visitor to the ``hard site,″ where some detainees were stripped naked as an interrogation technique.

Capt. Donald Reese’s testimony supported government allegations that Jordan knew about the abuse and lied about it.

Reese was commander of the 372nd Military Police Company, which guarded the hard site at Abu Ghraib in the autumn of 2003, when most of the abuses documented in photographs seen around the world occurred.

Prosecutor Lt. Col. Jon Pavlovcak asked him Wednesday how often he had seen Jordan inside the hard site, a building that housed prisoners held for interrogation.

``Every day, sir,″ Reese replied.

Reese testified that he couldn’t remember whether Jordan had ever told him directly why some prisoners were naked. But Reese acknowledged having told Maj. Gen. Antonio M. Taguba during Taguba’s 2004 investigation of the Abu Ghraib scandal that he had had a conversation with Jordan about it.

Taguba’s report quotes Reese as saying, ``He just said it’s an interrogation method that we use.″

Reese testified Wednesday that he remembered being told, although not necessarily by Jordan, that some prisoners were naked due to lack of clothing, refusal to wear clothes and for disciplinary reasons.

A defense witness, civilian interrogator Steven Pescatore, testified that Jordan didn’t seem to be in charge of interrogations when Pescatore was at Abu Ghraib from late September to mid-November 2003, despite Jordan’s title as director of the Joint Interrogation and Debriefing Center.

``He seemed to have some kind of support role, but he was never anyone I went to or through regarding interrogations,″ said Pescatore, who likened Jordan’s role at Abu Ghraib to that of a city mayor, responsible for troop support.

Lt. Col. Jeff Hamerick, said Jordan’s role wasn’t clear when he arrived Oct. 17 to help secure the prison’s perimeter.

``It was all very nebulous,″ he said.

The timing of Jordan’s responsibilities at Abu Ghraib is important because four of the alleged offenses are said to have occurred between Sept. 17 and Dec. 24, 2003.

Jordan, a civil affairs officer with military intelligence training, had been sent to Abu Ghraib to run the center as deputy to Col. Thomas Pappas, according to Pappas’ testimony Tuesday.

Pappas, who commanded the 205th Military Intelligence Brigade and took over direct supervision of the interrogation center, hasn’t been criminally charged. He was reprimanded and fined $8,000 for once approving the use of dogs during an interrogation without higher approval.

Eleven lower-ranking soldiers have been convicted of crimes at Abu Ghraib and several officers also have been reprimanded for their roles in the scandal.

Jordan, 50, is now assigned to the Intelligence and Security Command at Fort Belvoir, Va. The charges against him include cruelty and maltreatment for allegedly subjecting detainees to forced nudity and intimidation by dogs, dereliction of duty, making false official statements and willfully disobeying orders.

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