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Officer spared prison in abuse case

Lt. Col. Jordan, found guilty of disobeying an order in the Abu Ghraib inquiry, is reprimanded -- one of the lightest punishments available.

August 30, 2007|From the Washington Post

WASHINGTON — Army Lt. Col. Steven L. Jordan, the only officer to face trial over the Abu Ghraib detainee abuse scandal, was issued a reprimand Wednesday by a military jury, a punishment that spares him all prison time after he was convicted this week on one count of disobeying an order.

The jury could have sentenced Jordan to as long as five years in prison and ordered his dismissal from the Army. Instead, he received one of the lightest punishments available. Jordan, 51, was convicted for contacting other soldiers about the military's 2004 investigation into the Abu Ghraib abuses in Iraq after he was ordered not to discuss it with anyone.

Originally accused of abuse and of failing to supervise soldiers who committed abuse, Jordan was exonerated Tuesday on all charges related to the abuse of detainees, clearing him in a case that spanned more than three years.

Jordan had repeatedly asserted that he was not in charge of the facility and not responsible for the interrogation tactics used there.

In an interview Wednesday, Jordan said that he believed the jury panel "did the fairest thing they could" and that he felt as though a "huge weight has been lifted" off of his shoulders.

"Today was a vindication for my family, myself, and all the professional soldiers and civilians at Abu Ghraib that did an outstanding duty in such an austere environment that was, in essence, undermanned, under-resourced and under constant attack," Jordan said. "For the first time since the spring of 2004, I have some idea of a clear future."

Jordan said he planned to stay in the Army as an active-duty officer while he weighed his options. He said that he wanted to someday become a grade-school teacher. In an earlier interview, Jordan said he believed that the Army used him as a scapegoat in an effort to show that it had put at least one officer on trial for abuse, and he echoed those sentiments Wednesday.

"When they're playing pin the tail on the donkey, that's a fun game until you're the donkey," Jordan said. "That's how I've felt these last 3 1/2 years, that I was the donkey."

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