Oct. 21, 2004 – After admitting he forced Iraqi detainees at the infamous Abu Ghraib prison to masturbate in front of others, piled prisoners naked on top of one another and connected a hooded Iraqi to wires in the staging of a mock execution, Staff Sergeant Ivan "Chip" Frederick was sentenced to eight years in prison Thursday. Though Frederick said he knew what he did was wrong, he also pointed the finger at his superiors, whom he said compelled him to abuse prisoners and told him to ignore his misgivings.
Frederick, who holds the highest rank among the seven soldiers charged in connection with abuse at Abu Ghraib, pleaded guilty during the two-day court martial to assault, committing an indecent act, conspiracy and dereliction of duty. But his lawyers urged the judge to take into account the Armyâ€™s responsibility in the abuses at Abu Ghraib.
One witness at the trial, Captain Donald Reese, who served as Frederickâ€™s company commander, described the atmosphere at Abu Ghraib as "confusing." He explained that with military police, military intelligence, and the FBI all involved, it was difficult to know who was in charge. Reese said the CIA was involved as well, running some of the interrogation at night.
Reese described one incident in which he said CIA treatment caused one prisoner to suffer a "panic attack." He told the court that he was so disturbed that he asked for written instructions as to how certain prisoners should be interrogated.
Another witness, Chief Warrant Officer Kevin Kramer, testified that a captain headquartered in Baghdad sent him an email requesting that military interrogators get "toughened up" and "take the gloves off."
On top of handing down the eight-year prison sentence, the judge reduced Frederickâ€™s rank to private, took away his pay and issued him a dishonorable discharge. In accordance with a plea agreement, Frederick will testify against his alleged co-conspirators.
In related news, trial dates for two more soldiers implicated in the Abu Ghraib abuse were set Friday. Specialist Charles Graner and Sergeant Javal Davis will be tried on January 7 and February 1 respectively. Both have attributed their involvement in the abuse to orders from above to soften up prisoners for interrogation. Davisâ€™ defense lost a motion to force Secretary of State Donald Rumsfeld to testify at the trial.