WASHINGTON – The Army on Friday charged the former head of the interrogation center at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq with cruelty and maltreatment, dereliction of duty and other criminal offenses for his alleged involvement in the abuse of detainees at the notorious prison in 2003 and for interfering with the abuse investigation.
He is the highest-ranking officer at Abu Ghraib to face criminal charges.
A preliminary hearing, often referred to as the military equivalent of a grand jury investigation, will be held when Jordan's defense counsel is ready but no date has been set, according to an announcement of the charges by the Military District of Washington.
Officers above Jordan's rank have been reprimanded and relieved of command, including Brig. Gen. Janis Karpinski, who was in charge of the U.S.-run prison system that included the Abu Ghraib compound. But none of those have faced criminal charges.
The much-investigated abuses at Abu Ghraib included sexual humiliation and physical abuse of Iraqi detainees, and their disclosure two years ago triggered a firestorm of international protests and calls for Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld to resign. He offered his resignation twice but President Bush refused.
The Army charged Jordan with violating seven articles of the Uniform Code of Military Justice:
— Two counts of willfully disobeying a superior officer. He stands accused of violating an order by his superior, Maj. Gen. Antonio M. Taguba, to have no communication with other Army personnel or other potential witnesses regarding an initial Army investigation of prisoner abuse allegations at Abu Ghraib. The second count is similar, accusing Jordan of violating the same order issued by another superior, Maj. Gen. George Fay.
— Three counts of dereliction of duty and failure to obey a regulation. The Army document spelling out the charge says he "willfully failed to train, supervise and ensure compliance by soldiers under his control in following the requirements of" military policy on interrogation, "which resulted in the abuse of Iraqi detainees." Two other counts are for failing to get permission to use military working dogs during interrogations.
— One count of cruelty and maltreatment for actions which the Army said "did oppress Iraqi detainees, persons subject to his orders, by subjecting them to forced nudity and intimidation by military working dogs" between mid-September and late December 2003, which was the duration of his duty at the interrogation center.
— Two counts of making false official statements. The Army said that on or about February 24, 2004, "with intent to deceive," he told Taguba, who was investigating allegations of abuse at Abu Ghraib, that he never saw nude detainees, never knew of any dogs being used in interrogations and did not see other violations. The Army said his statement was "totally false and was then known by Lt. Col. Steven L. Jordan to be false." The second count is form allegedly making similar false statements to Fay in April 2004.
— Two counts of fraud. Each was for allegedly knowingly making inflated claims for repairs to U.S. government owned vehicles in June 2004.
— One count of wrongful interference with an investigation, and one count of making a false statement. The first was for allegedly trying to impede the investigation of abuse at Abu Ghraib by offering a person help in getting a job at the U.S. Embassy in August 2004 in return for receiving evidence pertinent to the investigation before it reached investigators. The other count was for making a false statement under oath in May 2004.
Jordan is an Army Reserve officer on active duty at the Army Intelligence and Security Command at Fort Belvoir, Va., where he was reassigned to a research job upon his return from Iraq, according to a statement issued Friday by the Belvoir command. It said he volunteered to fill an intelligence job in Iraq in 2003.
Calls to the Intelligence and Security Command on Friday evening seeking comment from Jordan were not answered.