Officer felt pressure at Abu Ghraib: report


    Last Update: Friday, June 18, 2004. 9:51pm (AEST)

    Officer felt pressure at Abu Ghraib: report
    The top United States military intelligence officer at Iraq's notorious Abu Ghraib prison testified he was under pressure from the White House, Pentagon and the CIA to glean more information from prisoners, a US newspaper reported today.

    Steven Jordan said in sworn statements to army investigators obtained by USA Today that in November an aide to National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice visited the prison to discuss "detainee operations and reporting."

    Mr Jordan, a lieutenant colonel, told investigators that during his time at Abu Ghraib - from September 17 to December 22 - he was reminded "many, many, many times" of the need to improve the intelligence output of the prison.

    Abu Ghraib, a dreaded jail under the former regime of Saddam Hussein, shot to notoriety again when graphic images were broadcast around the world of US soldiers physically and sexually humiliating naked Iraqi inmates, in violation of the Geneva conventions.

    Mr Jordan's statements do not shed light on how high up the chain of command was the approval to abuse prisoners to get information, said the daily, but they give new insights into the intensity of the demands on commanders to get information that could reduce the violence against US occupation troops.

    Seven prison guards have been charged with abuse at Abu Ghraib.

    None of their superiors have been held responsible despite statements from the guards that they had received instructions to soften the detainees for interrogation.

    Fran Townsend, Ms Rice's aide who visited Abu Ghraib, told the USA Today that Mr Jordan's statement that she pressured him to extract more information from prisoners was "ridiculous."

    Mr Jordan also told investigators that his immediate superior, Army Colonel Thomas Pappas, told him at least twice "that some of the (intelligence) reporting was getting read by (Secretary of Defence Donald) Rumsfeld, folks out at Langley (Central Intelligence Agency headquarters in Virginia), some very senior folks."

    He said Colonel Pappas told him the pressure to get more intelligence began well before October 2003, when the documented abuses at Abu Ghraib took place.

    However, General Antonio Taguba, who headed the investigation at Abu Ghraib, cast some doubt on Mr Jordan's credibility when he suggested that he be reassigned after lying about witnessing prisoner abuses, since several witnesses placed him at the scene, the daily said.