BAGHDAD, Iraq – The highest ranking soldier charged in the Abu Ghraib (search) prison scandal was sentenced to eight years in prison for abusing inmates during a court martial Thursday in Baghdad.
Staff Sgt. Ivan "Chip" Frederick (search), 38, an Army reservist from Buckingham, Va., was also given a reduction in rank, forfeiture of pay and a dishonorable discharge. The sentencing came a day after he pleaded guilty to eight counts of abusing and humiliating Iraqi detainees.
It was the longest prison sentence yet in connection with the scandal that broke worldwide in April with the publication of photos and video that showed U.S. soldiers abusing naked Iraqis in the prison on the western outskirts of Baghdad.
Frederick is one of seven members of the Cresaptown, Md.-based 372nd Military Police Company (search) charged in the scandal. One, Spc. Jeremy C. Sivits (search) of Hyndman, Pa., is serving a one-year sentence after pleading guilty in May to three counts.
Pfc. Lynndie England (search) of Fort Ashby, W.Va., the reservist seen in some of the most notorious photos, faces a January court-martial. She is stationed at Fort Bragg, N.C., while her legal case is adjudicated.
In addition, Spc. Armin Cruz, 24, a military intelligence soldier, was sentenced last month to eight months of confinement, reduction in rank to private, and a bad conduct discharge for his part in the scandal.
Frederick — a military policeman who is a corrections officer in civilian life — acknowledged his part in the scandal but also blamed his chain of command, telling the court Wednesday that prisoners were forced to submit to public nudity and degrading treatment "for military intelligence purposes."
He testified that he was given no training or support in supervising detainees and only learned of regulations against mistreatment after the abuses occurred between October and December last year. He said that when he brought issues up with his commanders, "they told me to do what MI told me to do," referring to military intelligence.
"I was wrong about what I did and I shouldn't have done it," Frederick told the judge, Army Col. James Pohl. "I knew it was wrong at the time because I knew it was a form of abuse."
He pleaded guilty to eight counts of conspiracy, dereliction of duty, maltreatment of detainees, assault and committing an indecent act.
A report this year by Army Maj. Gen. Antonio Taguba (search) said using MPs to break down prisoners may have been a technique imported from the Guantanamo Bay prison and possibly detention centers in Afghanistan used to hold suspected terrorists.
During the proceeding, Chief Warrant Officer Kevin Kramer, a military intelligence soldier called as a witness, referred to an e-mail from the U.S. command in Baghdad telling him to order his interrogators to be tough on prisoners.
"The gloves are coming off, gentlemen, regarding these detainees," said the e-mail, which was read into evidence. It added that the command "wants the detainees broken."
Frederick, who was in charge of the night shift at the "hard site" facility at Abu Ghraib, said military intelligence soldiers and civilian interrogators told the guards how to treat the detainees.
That included stripping detainees, depriving them of sleep or taking away their cigarettes, Frederick said. Investigators wanted detainees "stressed out, wanted them to talk more," he said.