News Intelligence Analysis
From the New York Times
June 9, 2004
Officer in Charge of Questioning Iraqi Inmates Had No Interrogation Training
By ERIC SCHMITT
WASHINGTON, June 8 The former head of the interrogation center at Abu Ghraib prison told a senior Army investigator in February that before he took the job, he had no experience in interrogating prisoners, and that he had asked military intelligence soldiers to let him sit in on their questioning to understand what they did.
The officer, Lt. Col. Steven L. Jordan, the former head of the Joint Interrogation and Debriefing Center, told the investigator, Maj. Gen. Antonio M. Taguba, that he was a civil affairs officer by training and that his assignment was to set up a database at the interrogation center for tracking information gleaned from the prisoners.
"I've no training on the military side of what constitutes interrogation operations," Colonel Jordan, an Army reservist, told General Taguba.
The statements by Colonel Jordan, contained in the transcript of a Feb. 21 interview that is part of General Taguba's 6,000-page classified report, offer the startling insight that the officer nominally in charge of the interrogation center where some of the worst prisoner abuses occurred last fall had no background in what he supposed to be supervising.
Portions of Colonel Jordan's sworn statements were read to a reporter for The New York Times by two government officials who had read all or parts of the transcript.
The Army general conducting a separate inquiry into the role of military intelligence specialists in the abuse at Abu Ghraib is focusing on Colonel Jordan and the interrogation center's activities, a senior Army official and soldiers interviewed by investigators said last week.
That investigating officer, Maj. Gen. George R. Fay, has a broad mandate to examine intelligence gathering in Iraq and has interviewed dozens of soldiers and officers in Iraq, Europe and the United States. General Fay's report is expected to be completed by early July, Army officials said.
One of the murkier aspects of the widening prisoner-abuse scandal is the role of Colonel Jordan and the interrogation center that he supervised from when it opened in late September 2003 to December 2003, when he was reassigned to another intelligence job with the American military headquarters in Iraq.
In his interview with General Taguba, Colonel Jordan made a glancing reference to work as an intelligence analyst at the Department of Homeland Security, but he did not elaborate.
The interview transcript, which runs more than 150 pages, offers a picture of an officer who by his own account had a confusing chain of command and a muddled mission. For instance, Colonel Jordan told General Taguba that Col. Thomas Pappas, head of the 205th Military Intelligence Brigade, was head of the interrogation center.
"Since I rated nobody, since I had no input or evaluations, had no responsibilities or resources, Colonel Pappas was commander of J.I.D.C.," Colonel Jordan said.
Senior officers at the military headquarters in Baghdad dispute that characterization, saying that Colonel Jordan was in charge of the interrogation center, and that he reported to Colonel Pappas.
Moreover, in the executive summary of his report, General Taguba concluded that Colonel Jordan made "material misrepresentations to the Investigating Team, including his leadership role at Abu Ghraib."
Colonel Jordan has declined all requests for interviews. He is still in Iraq, working as an intelligence staff officer for Maj. Gen. Barbara Fast, the top American intelligence officer in Iraq, a senior military officer in Iraq said.
Colonel Jordan said in his interview with General Taguba that he was unsure why he been selected to head the interrogation center, except perhaps that General Fast was familiar with his background.
As a reservist, Colonel Jordan worked at the Army's Intelligence and Security Command at Fort Belvoir, Va. He was called to active duty last September to lead the interrogation center, Army officials said.
To date, seven enlisted personnel from a military police company have been charged with crimes in connection with the abuses at Abu Ghraib, all in a cellblock known as Tier 1.
But most of those soldiers have said they were acting with the knowledge or encouragement of military intelligence officers, including Colonel Jordan and Colonel Pappas. General Taguba said in his classified report that he suspected that Colonel Jordan and Colonel Pappas were either "directly or indirectly responsible" for the misconduct.
In his interview, Colonel Jordan also told General Taguba that he had been involved in the search of a prisoner's cell on Nov. 24, 2003, that resulted in a detainee and a military police officer being shot. A subsequent Army investigation into the incident, which took place nearly four hours after a major riot at the prison, criticized prison operating procedures, "poorly trained M.P.'s, unclear lanes of responsibility and ambiguous relationships between the M.I. and M.P. assets" that conducted the search of the cell.
Copyright 2004 The New York Times Company
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