HAGERSTOWN, Md. – A soldier facing a court-martial (search) for his role in the alleged abuse of Iraqi war prisoners says commanders ignored his requests to set out rules for treating POWs and scolded him for questioning the inmates' harsh treatment.
Army Reserves Staff Sgt. Ivan "Chip" Frederick (search) wrote that an Abu Ghraib prison near Baghdad lacked the humane standards of the Virginia state prison where he worked in civilian life, according to a journal he started after military investigators first questioned him in January.
The Iraqi prisoners were sometimes confined naked for three consecutive days without toilets in damp, unventilated cells with floors 3 feet by 3 feet, Frederick wrote in materials obtained Thursday by The Associated Press.
"When I brought this up with the acting BN (battalion) commander, he stated, 'I don't care if he has to sleep standing up.' That's when he told my company commander that he was the BN commander and for me to do as he says," Frederick wrote.
The writings were supplied by Frederick's uncle, William Lawson, who said Frederick wanted to document what was happening to him. Lawson and Martha Frederick, the sergeant's wife, said Frederick was being made a scapegoat for commanders who gave him no guidance on managing hundreds of POWs with just a handful of ill-trained, poorly equipped troops.
Lt. Cmdr. Nicholas Balice, spokesman for the Central Command (search), which is in charge of U.S. forces in the Persian Gulf, said he couldn't comment on Frederick's writings, but that the allegations against him were appropriately investigated.
Frederick is one of six members of the 800th Military Police Brigade (search) facing courts-martial for allegedly humiliating prisoners at Abu Ghraib. Charges include dereliction of duty, cruelty and maltreatment, assault and indecent acts with another person.
Names of the six were not released, but family members have publicly identified four of them.
CBS's "60 Minutes II" broadcast pictures of the alleged abuse and an interview with Frederick on Wednesday. Some of the soldiers were smiling in the photographs obtained by CBS, which showed naked prisoners stacked in a human pyramid and being forced to simulate sex acts.
Lawson, of Newburg, W.Va., said his nephew was being portrayed "as a monster."
"He's just the guy they put in charge of the prison," he said.
Martha Frederick, of Buckingham, Va., said her husband, in Iraq since April 2003, told her his unit wasn't given proper training and equipment.
"I feel like things are being covered up. What has come to light has fallen on the burden of my husband," she said.
Seventeen members of the 372nd Military Police Company (search) were temporarily suspended from their posts after the investigation at the prison, Col. Jill Morgenthaler, a military spokesman in Baghdad, told The (Baltimore) Sun.
Military officials said Frederick, 37, is among the 14 of 17 people under investigation from the unit of the 800th based in Cresaptown, in western Maryland.
Daniel Sivits — whose son, 24-year-old Spc. Jeremy C. Sivits, is also facing court-martial — said the young man "was just doing what he was told to do."
He said his son disclosed the charges last month in a phone call.
"Apparently, he was told to take a picture and he did what he was told," Daniel Sivits said Friday. He said his son, from Hyndman, Pa., did not tell him what he photographed.
Sivits said his son isn't a trained military police officer. "He's a trained wheeled-vehicle mechanic," he said.
The Sun's Friday editions identified two other soldiers facing court-martial. The newspaper cited unidentified Army officials in naming Sgt. Javal S. Davis, 26. His wife, who also spoke to the newspaper, defended her husband.
"We really don't know how those prisoners are behaving," said Zeenithia Davis, who is in the Navy in Mississippi. "There's a line between heinous war crimes and maintaining discipline."
A Sun reporter on Thursday showed a photo of one of the nude prisoner scenes to Terrie England, who recognized her daughter, reservist Lynndie R. England, 21, standing in the foreground with her boyfriend.
"Oh, my God," she told the newspaper from the stoop in front of her Fort Ashby, W.Va., trailer home. "I can't get over this."
The alleged abuses of prisoners were "stupid, kid things — pranks," Terrie England said. "And what the (Iraqis) do to our men and women are just? The rules of the Geneva Convention (search), does that apply to everybody or just us?"
Her family said Lynndie England is detained on a U.S. base, but declined to say where.
Terrie England's sister, Jessica Kleinstiner, said the family had no further comment when reached by telephone Friday at England's home.
Army officials said the investigation began in January when an American soldier reported the abuse and turned over evidence that included photographs. In addition to the criminal charges, the military has recommended disciplinary action against seven U.S. officers who helped run the prison, including Brig. Gen. Janis Karpinski, commander of the 800th Brigade.
Frederick's civilian lawyer, Washington-based Gary Myers, said he has urged the commanding general in Iraq to treat the case as an administrative matter, like those of the seven officers.
"I can assure you Chip Frederick had no idea how to humiliate an Arab until he met up" with higher-ranking people who told him how, Myers said.
Myers said Frederick has had his Article 32 hearing, the military equivalent of a grand jury proceeding. Myers said he will next request a change of venue because "you can't try a case of this magnitude in a hostile war zone environment."
In civilian life, Frederick has been a correctional officer for six years at the Buckingham Correctional Center in Dillwyn, Va., his wife and a state agency spokesman said.
He wrote that he questioned the inmates' treatment and asked for standard operating procedures when his unit relieved the 72nd Military Police Company (search) at the prison last fall. His requests were ignored until Jan. 19, five days after his first visit from investigators, when he found the Geneva Convention rules for handling prisoners of war on the Internet, Frederick wrote.