WASHINGTON – Lawmakers have issued a subpoena seeking Pentagon information on a soldier who says he suffered retaliation for reporting abuses at Abu Ghraib prison.
The subpoena from the House Committee on Government Reform seeks all communications relating to information provided by Army Spc. Samuel Provance about the Iraq prison, where U.S. mistreatment of detainees caused an international uproar.
It also seeks information on the interrogation of an Iraqi officer there, identified by Provance as Gen. Hamid Zabar. Provance had helped interrogate Zabar's 16-year-old son and was later told the boy had been captured and abused to compel the general to give information, Provance said in testimony prepared for Congress.
The subpoena, issued Friday before the long holiday weekend, was necessary because lawmakers got no response from a March 7 letter to Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld requesting the information, said a statement from Rep. Christopher Shays, R-Conn., chairman of the panel's national security subcommittee.
"If the department won't even return a call, after three months ... we really have no choice but to subpoena the material and compel their attention to our request," added committee chairman Rep. Tom Davis of Virginia, who signed the subpoena.
Defense Department spokesman Lt. Col. Mark Ballesteros said Wednesday the Pentagon already has provided much of this information to the House Armed Services Committee and given Davis' committee many of those documents. They are "responsive in the matter under discussion," Ballesteros said.
Provance has said his rank was reduced for disobeying orders not to speak about mistreatment he saw at Abu Ghraib. He was one of five government whistleblowers who testified before Congress in February, saying they faced retaliation for calling attention to alleged government wrongs.
The subpoena, issued at the request of Shays and Rep. Henry Waxman, D-Calif., the committee's top Democrat, gives the Pentagon until 5 p.m. July 14 to produce the documents.