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Archive for Thursday, May 12, 2005

Colonel reprimanded for abuse won’t be prosecuted

May 12, 2005

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— The Army reprimanded and fined a colonel who was in charge of an intelligence unit at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq during the period of prisoner abuse, but the service chose not to press criminal charges, an official said Wednesday.

Col. Thomas M. Pappas, commander of the 205th Military Intelligence Brigade, based in Germany, had faced the possibility of criminal prosecution under the Uniform Code of Military Justice, but a two-star general instead administered what the military calls nonjudicial punishment.

Pappas is among the highest ranking officers whose actions have been scrutinized in the abuse scandal. Only one general -- Brig. Gen. Janis Karpinski -- has been punished. She was demoted to colonel.

The question of whether Pappas would be relieved of his command had not been settled Wednesday, according to an Army official who discussed the matter only on condition of anonymity because it had not been publicly announced.

Pappas was not accused of ordering abuse or participating in it, but the Army said some soldiers under his command were involved and he was faulted for two instances of dereliction of duty.

Maj. Gen. Bennie Williams, who decided not to press criminal charges, ordered Pappas to repay $8,000 in salary and gave him an official letter of reprimand. Taken together the penalties essentially stop him from being promoted in rank and thus hasten the end of his career.

Williams is commander of the 21st Theater Support Command. He was given the task of deciding the Pappas case because Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez, the 5th Corps commander who might otherwise have handled it, had to recuse himself in light of questions about his own role in Abu Ghraib. The Army recently cleared Sanchez and two other generals of any wrongdoing in the matter.

Pappas had the option of refusing the nonjudicial punishment and contesting the allegations in a court martial, but he chose not to, the Army official said.

The Army said it verified a finding by previous Army investigations that Pappas had failed to obtain approval from superior commanders before authorizing an unsanctioned interrogation method: the presence of military dogs during interrogations as a method of scaring prisoners.

The Army also said Pappas was derelict in his duties by failing to ensure that soldiers under his command were informed of, trained in and supervised in the application of interrogation procedures.

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