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Gen.'s memory at issue in Abu Ghraib case

Aug. 23, 2007 - 06:35AM   |   Last Updated: Aug. 23, 2007 - 06:35AM  |  
Maj. Gen. George Fay leaves military court after testifying Tuesday during the general court-martial of Lt. Col. Steven L. Jordan in Fort Meade, Md. Fay's testimony was the centerpiece of the day's proceedings as the prosecution rested its case.
Maj. Gen. George Fay leaves military court after testifying Tuesday during the general court-martial of Lt. Col. Steven L. Jordan in Fort Meade, Md. Fay's testimony was the centerpiece of the day's proceedings as the prosecution rested its case. (Steve Ruark / The Associated Press)
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FORT MEADE, Md. (AP) — Military prosecutors rested their case against the only officer charged with abusing detainees at Abu Ghraib after the defense feasted on the faulty memory of the government's last witness.

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FORT MEADE, Md. (AP) — Military prosecutors rested their case against the only officer charged with abusing detainees at Abu Ghraib after the defense feasted on the faulty memory of the government's last witness.

Maj. Gen. George Fay, an assistant deputy chief of staff at the Pentagon, investigated the role of military intelligence soldiers at the prison in Iraq. He concluded that Lt. Col. Steven L. Jordan fostered an atmosphere conducive to abuse as director of the prison's interrogation center.

Fay's memory first became a liability for prosecutors earlier this week when he acknowledged that he had not read Jordan his rights before interviewing him in the spring of 2004. That forced the prosecutors to drop two of its most serious charges — both alleging Jordan lied — at the outset of the trial. Jordan's potential prison term was thus reduced by eight years to 8 1/2.

On the witness stand Wednesday, neither Fay nor his assistant, Lt. Col. Maricela Alvarado, could remember the dates of Fay's two interviews with Jordan, a 51-year-old reservist. Defense attorney Maj. Kris Poppe inquired whether Fay really told Jordan not to talk to others about the probe — an order Jordan is charged with violating.

Fay testified that he told Jordan not to discuss the investigation after their first meeting in late April or early May 2004. He said he sternly repeated the directive at their second meeting, some days later.

Despite the second order, Alvarado testified, Jordan e-mailed a soldier — she called him Sgt. Beachman — about the probe. Earlier Wednesday, Staff Sgt. James Beachner testified that he had received e-mails from Jordan on April 29 and May 3, 2004.

The contents of those e-mails were not disclosed.

The charge of disobeying an order is the most serious Jordan still faces, punishable by up to five years in prison.

Jordan also is charged with failing to obey a regulation by ordering dogs to be used for interrogations without higher approval; cruelty and maltreatment for allegedly subjecting detainees to forced nudity and intimidation by dogs; and dereliction for allegedly failing to properly train and supervise soldiers in interrogation rules. Those charges are punishable by prison terms of two years, one year and six months, respectively.

Defense attorneys maintain that Jordan, a civil affairs officer with a military intelligence background, took no part in interrogations. The defense also contends Jordan had no chain-of-command responsibility for the military police soldiers who account for nine of the 11 defendants already convicted for their roles at Abu Ghraib.

Earlier Wednesday, a soldier who participated in the mistreatment testified that Jordan was in charge of an Abu Ghraib cellblock where detainees were abused. Pvt. Ivan Frederick's testimony supported the charge that Jordan failed to properly supervise soldiers under his control.

Another prosecution witness, former Army interrogator Michael J. Eckroth, testified that some of those who were subsequently rounded up for questioning about smuggled weapons were standing naked in the hallway when he came upon the scene that night, and that Jordan "was the highest-ranking officer there."

Jordan is the only officer among the 12 people charged in Abu Ghraib scandal, and the last to go to trial. Eleven enlisted soldiers have been convicted of crimes, with the longest sentence, 10 years, given to former Cpl. Charles Graner Jr. in January 2005.

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