Campaign 2010

Jun 09, 2004

Let’s Have a Little Talk

Well there’s just so much going on, the White House couldn’t possibly be expected to know what was going on at every single interrogation facility.

The head of the interrogation center at the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq told an Army investigator in February that he understood some of the information being collected from prisoners there had been requested by “White House staff,” according to an account of his statement obtained by The Washington Post.

Lt. Col. Steven L. Jordan, an Army reservist who took control of the Joint Interrogation and Debriefing Center on Sept. 17, 2003, said a superior military intelligence officer told him the requested information concerned “any anti-coalition issues, foreign fighters, and terrorist issues.”

The Army investigator, Maj. Gen. Antonio M. Taguba, asked Jordan whether it concerned “sensitive issues,” and Jordan said, “Very sensitive. Yes, sir,” according to the account, which was provided by a government official.

Well ok, so they asked some guy at some point about it, so what?

The precise role and mission of Jordan, who is still stationed in Iraq and through his attorneys has declined requests to speak with the news media, remains one of the least well understood facets of the Abu Ghraib abuse scandal.

Jordan has been described by other military personnel as playing a key role at Abu Ghraib in overseeing interrogations; they have described him as being deeply involved in an incident on Nov. 24, 2003, when a detainee was confronted in his cell by snarling military dogs, which Taguba deemed a violation of the prisoner’s rights.

In a March 9 report on the abuse scandal, Taguba listed Jordan as one of four military intelligence officers he suspected were “directly or indirectly responsible for the abuses at Abu Ghraib.” He also said Jordan had “failed to ensure that soldiers under his direct control were properly trained” in interrogation techniques and were aware of Geneva Conventions human rights protections for detainees.

Col. Thomas M. Pappas, the chief military intelligence officer at the prison, said in his statement to Taguba that Jordan was working on a special project for the office of Maj. Gen. Barbara Fast, the top U.S. intelligence official in Iraq. He also described Jordan as “a loner who freelances between military intelligence and military police” officers at the prison.

Asserting that Jordan repeatedly took part in searches of detainee cells without notifying military police commanders—an activity that fell outside the customary duties of an intelligence officer—he also told Taguba that “I must admit I failed in not reining him in.”

But Jordan, in the statement to Taguba, described himself as more of a functionary than a rogue operator. He said that Pappas was really in charge, as evidenced by the fact that he was not responsible for rating other military intelligence officers in reports to superiors and “had no input . . . no responsibility . . . no resources” under his control. He said he was just a “liaison” between Fast and those collecting intelligence at the prison.

Is this really how it’s going to be?  One drop at a time for the next five months, every day learning some new stomach-churning detail?  The petition is still active, if you haven’t signed it, demand the dismissal of Secretary Rumsfeld.

Update:  Scandal Scorecard update, that is.

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