HAGERSTOWN, Md. - A soldier accused of abusing Iraqi war prisoners wrote that his commanders ignored his requests for rules of conduct and silenced his questions about harsh, humiliating treatment of inmates.
In a journal he started after military investigators looking into the abuse approached him in January, Army Reserves Staff Sgt. Ivan "Chip" Frederick wrote that Abu Ghraib prison, near Baghdad, was nothing like the Virginia state prison where he worked in civilian life.
The Iraqi prisoners were sometimes confined naked for three consecutive days without toilets in damp, unventilated cells with floors 3 feet by 3 feet, Frederick wrote in materials supplied to The Associated Press by a relative Thursday.
"When I brought this up with the acting BN (battalion) commander, he stated, 'I don't care if he has to sleep standing up.' That's when he told my company commander that he was the BN commander and for me to do as he says," Frederick wrote.
The writings were given to the AP by Frederick's uncle, William Lawson, who said the Army has treated his nephew unfairly. Lawson and Frederick's wife, Martha, said Frederick was being made a scapegoat for commanders who gave him no guidance on managing hundreds of Iraqis with just a handful of poorly equipped troops.
Lawson said Frederick started keeping a journal to keep track of what had happened before he was assigned a military lawyer.
Lt. Cmdr. Nicholas Balice, spokesman for the Central Command, which is in charge of U.S. forces in the Persian Gulf, said he couldn't comment on Frederick's statements, but he said allegations against Frederick were appropriately investigated.
Frederick is one of six members of the 800th Military Police Brigade facing courts-martial for allegedly humiliating prisoners at Abu Ghraib. CBS's "60 Minutes II" broadcast pictures of the alleged abuse and an interview with Frederick on Wednesday; the other soldiers' names have not been released.
"They're trying to portray him as a monster," said Lawson, of Newburg, W.Va. "He's just the guy they put in charge of the prison."
Martha Frederick, of Buckingham, Va., said her husband, in Iraq since April 2003, told her his unit wasn't provided proper training and equipment.
"I feel like things are being covered up. What has come to light has fallen on the burden of my husband," she said.
Military officials said Chip Frederick, 37, and at least some of the others are from the 372nd Military Police Company, a unit of the 800th based in Cresaptown, in western Maryland. The charges against them include dereliction of duty, cruelty and maltreatment, assault and indecent acts with another person.
Some of the soldiers were smiling in the photographs obtained by CBS, which showed naked prisoners stacked in a human pyramid and being forced to simulate sex acts.
At a news briefing Wednesday in Baghdad, Brig. Gen. Mark Kimmitt said the investigation began in January when an American soldier reported the abuse and turned over evidence that included photographs.
"That soldier said, 'There are some things going on here that I can't live with,'" Kimmitt said.
"60 Minutes II" reported that Frederick will plead not guilty, and that he claims the way the Army operated the prison led to the abuse of prisoners.
"We had no support, no training whatsoever, and I kept asking my chain of command for certain things, rules and regulations, and it just wasn't happening," Frederick told CBS. Frederick did not immediately respond to an e-mail from The Associated Press seeking comment.
Frederick's civilian lawyer, Washington-based Gary Myers, said he has urged the commanding general in Iraq to treat the case as an administrative matter, like those of seven officers who also were investigated.
"I can assure you Chip Frederick had no idea how to humiliate an Arab until he met up" with higher-ranking people who told him how, Myers said.
Myers said Frederick has had his Article 32 hearing, the military equivalent of a grand jury proceeding. Myers said he will next request a change of venue because "you can't try a case of this magnitude in a hostile war zone environment."
Martha Frederick and Myers said they know who the other accused soldiers are but declined to name them.
The (Baltimore) Sun's Thursday editions identified two other soldiers facing court-martial. The newspaper cited unidentified Army officials in naming Sgt. Javal S. Davis, 26. His wife, who also spoke to the newspaper, defended her husband.
"We really don't know how those prisoners are behaving," said Zeenithia Davis, who is in the Navy in Mississippi. "There's a line between heinous war crimes and maintaining discipline."
A (Baltimore) Sun reporter on Thursday showed a photo of one of the nude prisoner scenes to Terrie England, who recognized her smiling daughter, reservist Lynndie R. England, 21.
"Oh, my God," she told the newspaper from the stoop in front of her Fort Ashby, W.Va., trailer home. "I can't get over this."
The alleged abuses of prisoners were "stupid, kid things - pranks," Terrie England said. "And what the (Iraqis) do to our men and women are just? The rules of the Geneva Convention, does that apply to everybody or just us?"
Her family said Lynndie England is detained on a U.S. base, but declined to say where.
In civilian life, Frederick has been a correctional officer for six years at the Buckingham Correctional Center in Dillwyn, Va., his wife and a state agency spokesman said.
A 20-year reservist, Frederick is "a very passive person," Lawson said. "If nothing else, he, in this situation, was very naive."
Lawson, acting as a family spokesman, said Frederick and the other MPs were ordered to "loosen up the prisoners" for interrogation. Lawson speculated that the MPs took the photographs to show to other prisoners to get them to talk.
"That probably is a violation of some directive, yes it is, I would agree, but if you use it to get information that's going to save American lives, I have to weigh those two things," Lawson said.
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