Key Abu Ghraib Officer Reprimanded, Fined

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Col. Thomas Pappas, who was in charge of Abu Ghraib prison's intelligence unit during the worst of the abuses, has been reprimanded and fined $8,000. The Army found he had failed to properly train soldiers in interrogation techniques, among other violations.


The US military has reprimanded an Army colonel who was one of the key figures in the prisoner abuse scandal at Iraq's Abu Ghraib prison. Colonel Thomas Pappas was in charge of the intelligence unit at the prison where the worst of the abuses occurred. Pappas was fined $8,000 and given a letter of reprimand for his part in the mistreatment of the Iraqi detainees. NPR's Jackie Northam reports.


In mid-November 2003, Colonel Thomas Pappas was handed control of two cell blocks at Abu Ghraib prison which housed prisoners that were due to be interrogated. At the time, the insurgency was gaining momentum, and military police and intelligence officers in that part of Abu Ghraib were under enormous pressure to get actionable intelligence. It was during this time that some of the worst abuse of prisoners took place. For months, the military investigated Pappas' role in the abuse scandal.

On Wednesday, the Army found that he was derelict in his duties in two ways: by failing to ensure that soldiers under his command were properly informed of or trained in interrogation skills, and that he had failed to obtain the proper permission to use working guard dogs while questioning Iraqi detainees. The military chose not to press criminal charges. Instead, it administered what the Army calls non-judicial action. A military official says that the punishment effectively ends Pappas' career, because it means he cannot be promoted. And it's still unclear whether Pappas will be relieved of command of the 205th Military Intelligence Brigade which is based in Germany.

The action comes less than a week after Brigadier General Janis Karpinski was reprimanded and demoted one rank to colonel for her role in the abuse and just one day before the court-martial of Specialist Sabrina Harman. She was one of seven low-ranking, mostly enlisted soldiers who were implicated by photographs of the abuse at Abu Ghraib. Harman faces six and a half years in prison if she's convicted. Jackie Northam, NPR News, Washington.

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