The highest ranking officer implicated in the Abu Ghraib prison scandal was sentenced to eight years in prison for abusing inmates at Abu Ghraib during a court martial Thursday in Baghdad.
Staff Sgt. Ivan "Chip" Frederick, 38, of Buckingham, Va., was also given a reduction in rank, forfeiture of pay and a dishonorable discharge. The sentencing came a day after he pleaded guilty Wednesday to eight counts of abusing and humiliating Iraqi detainees.
He had faced a maximum possible sentence of 11 years in prison.
The Abu Ghraib scandal broke worldwide in April with the publication of photos and video that showed U.S. soldiers abusing Iraqi detainees.
Frederick is the highest-ranking member of the 372nd Military Police Company charged in the scandal. Six others from the Cresaptown, Md.-based unit also were charged; one, Spc. Jeremy C. Sivits, of Hyndman, Penn., is serving a one-year prison sentence after pleading guilty in May to three counts.
Frederick is alleged to have watched as a group of detainees were made to masturbate while other soldiers photographed them. He also is accused of jumping on a pile of detainees, stomping on detainees' hands and bare feet, and punching one in the chest so hard he needed medical attention.
In addition, Frederick allegedly helped place wires in a detainees' hands and told him he would be electrocuted if he fell off a box.
Since the photographs depicting abuse at Abu Ghraib surfaced, attorneys for the accused soldiers have claimed higher-ranking officers were involved. Much of the investigative work has focused on the question of whether intelligence officers, Pentagon officials or their policies were to blame.
One Army investigation found that twenty-seven members of an intelligence unit at Abu Ghraib either requested or condoned certain abuses of Iraqi prisoners there. Another eight, including two contractors, knew of abuse and failed to report it, the report said.
A separate report found that inattention to prisoner issues by senior U.S. military leaders in Iraq and at the Pentagon was a key factor in the abuse scandal, but there is no evidence they ordered any mistreatment.
The four-member commission appointed by Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld and headed by former Defense Secretary James R. Schlesinger directly blamed the events at Abu Ghraib on the soldiers there and their immediate commanders.
It also said senior commanders and top-level Pentagon officials, including Rumsfeld, can be faulted for failed leadership and oversight.
Schlesinger's review criticizes senior leaders for not focusing on issues stemming from the detention of large numbers of prisoners in Iraq. This lack of attention and resources contributed to the chaotic conditions at Abu Ghraib, the report said.
In particular, war planners at the Joint Chiefs of Staff did not expect a widespread anti-U.S. insurgency or the breakdown of civil order in postwar Iraq, so they did not plan or provide resources for the operation of a large American-run prison system, commissioners said.