$15.00 donated in past month
From the Open-Publishing Calendar
From the Open-Publishing Newswire
Indybay FeatureRelated Categories: Iraq | International
Iraqi Prisoner Abuse Photos: Staff Sgt. Ivan "Chip" Frederick
'They're trying to cover up these war crimes and use my nephew as expendable.' -- Bill
Lawson, uncle of Staff Sgt. Ivan Frederick
Army Reserve Staff Sgt. Chip Frederick poses for a photograph by sitting on top of a detainee. Frederick, 37, of the 372nd Military Police Company, was the senior enlisted soldier at Abu Ghraib prison between October and December of 2003, when the abuses are alleged to have occurred. He has been recommended for court-martial on criminal charges. (Photo: CBS/60 Minutes II)
OAKLAND, Md. -- Bill Lawson rolled like a half-track into the Frederick family's living room, ready for combat against his government.
President Bush just said he wants to see all the soldiers punished," Lawson declared. "The president just broke the law. That's great."
He paused in front of the photograph of his nephew, Staff Sgt. Ivan "Chip" Frederick. In the months after Frederick telephoned his parents and told them he was accused of mistreating prisoners at Iraq's Al Ghraib prison, the family kept a silent vigil and hoped for the best.
Yesterday, Ivan "Red" Frederick and his ex-wife, JoAnn, guided by Lawson, a man with 20 years in the military and a tour of Vietnam on his resume, told their story to all who would listen. Their son, they say, attempted to warn his Army superiors that Iraqi prisoners were being mistreated. The Army, they say, is now trying to deflect blame onto him.
"They're trying to cover up these war crimes and use my nephew as expendable. I'm not going to allow that," Lawson said.
In Maryland, Lawson said at least some of the photographs showing prisoners being abused were posed.
The accused guards wanted photos to show Iraqi prisoners to frighten them into cooperating with military intelligence officials, he said.
Frederick "bears a small portion of responsibility for what has happened here," Lawson said.
U.S. Army Reserve Staff Sgt. Ivan 'Chip' Frederick is shown in a photo taken when he had just entered Kuwait in 2003. Frederick is accused of abusing Iraqi war prisoners. In a journal he started after military investigators looking into the abuse approached him in January, 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 obtained Thursday, April 29, 2004, by The Associated Press. (AP Photo/Family Photo)
Frederick, 37, a reservist with the 372nd Military Police Company, is one of four soldiers to have undergone a Section 32 preliminary hearing into whether they should face criminal charges and to have a court martial recommended. Two other hearings are pending.
Frederick, a civilian prison officer at the Buckingham Correctional Center, in Dillwyn, Va., served at Abu Ghraib between October and December last year and featured prominently in several of the pictures of humiliation, torture and sexual abuse that have shocked the world.
An officer who served in Iraq but has now returned to the U.S. said: "The consensus is that he was a sadist, whereas some of the more junior soldiers involved were perhaps stupid and easily dominated by him.
Bill Lawson, whose nephew, Staff Sgt. Ivan “Chip” Frederick, is one of the soldiers charged in the incident, said that Frederick sent home pictures from Iraq on a few occasions. They were “just ordinary photos, like a tourist would take,” and nothing showing prisoner abuse, he said.
“I would say that’s something that’s very common that’s going on in Iraq because it’s so convenient and easy to do,” Lawson said of troops sending pictures home. He added that his nephew also mailed video cassettes “of him talking into a camcorder to (his wife) when he was going on his rounds.”
Martha Frederick, wife of Army Reserves Staff Sgt. Ivan ``Chip'' Frederick, is shown at the Fredericks' home in Buckingham, Va., Thursday, April 29, 2004. Family members of Staff Sgt. Frederick, one of the soldiers accused of abusing Iraqi war prisoners, said Thursday that he 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. (AP Photo/Lisa Billings)
The Fredericks say their son repeatedly tried to tell Army superiors of the mistreatment and that guards at the prison were untrained and lacked guidelines about how to handle as many as 900 captives. Frederick was sent to the prison in September as the noncommissioned officer in charge.
"He got scared. He started calling us on the phone. He said, 'Mom, you wouldn't imagine what's going on over here. It's going to blow up,'" JoAnn Frederick said.
The Frederick family released a copy of a journal they said their son began to keep on Jan. 14, the day he was questioned by Army criminal investigators and his room and computer were searched.
"I questioned some of the things I saw," Frederick wrote Jan. 19, "such things as leaving inmates in their cells or in female underpants, handcuffing them to the door of their cell.
I questioned this and the answer I got was this is how military intelligence wants it done."
Other journal entries suggest that intelligence officers controlled the prison, ordering the MPs to mistreat detainees to intimidate them into cooperating and giving information.
"MI has encouraged and told us great job that they were now getting positive results and information," wrote Frederick, who in civilian life worked as a correctional officer in a prison in Virginia, where he resides.
But aside from the journal, begun after military investigators targeted him, none of Frederick's earlier e-mails or letters home to family detailed mistreatment of prisoners. On March 21, Frederick e-mailed his mother.
"Almost all the things that were mentioned in the charges stated I did those things. The truth is, I didn't do it, but I witnessed it and I was afraid to say anything," Frederick wrote.
"I always asked one [soldier] if he thought he could get away with that kind of behavior and he always said to me, 'Relax, show me where I violated any rules.'"
After an investigation was launched into the alleged abuse of prisoners at Abu Ghraib prison, Staff Sergeant Ivan "Chip" Frederick decided to keep a journal to ensure his side of the story would be revealed. The journals seen by the Guardian begin on January 19 2004 and detail the conditions of the prisoners, apparent torture, and the death of one inmate after interrogation.
Staff Sgt. Ivan L. 'Chip' Frederick II, right, is seen with his wife Martha in this undated family photo, taken approximately two years ago, released by his mother Jo Ann Frederick. Staff Sgt. Ivan L. 'Chip' Frederick II has been accused of abusing prisoners at the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq. (AP Photo/Courtesy of Jo Ann Frederick, HO)