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Colonel Accused of Aiding Enemy in Iraq

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  • Greg Cannon
    http://hosted.ap.org/dynamic/stories/I/IRAQ_US_SOLDIER_CHARGED?SITE=TXELP&SECTION=Home&TEMPLATE=DEFAULT Apr 26, 5:41 PM EDT Colonel Accused of Aiding Enemy in
    Message 1 of 1 , Apr 26, 2007
      http://hosted.ap.org/dynamic/stories/I/IRAQ_US_SOLDIER_CHARGED?SITE=TXELP&SECTION=Home&TEMPLATE=DEFAULT

      Apr 26, 5:41 PM EDT

      Colonel Accused of Aiding Enemy in Iraq

      By KIM GAMEL
      Associated Press Writer

      BAGHDAD (AP) -- A U.S. officer has been accused of
      aiding the enemy - a charge that carries the death
      penalty - for allegedly providing an unmonitored cell
      phone to detainees while he commanded an MP detachment
      at the jail that held Saddam Hussein, the military
      said Thursday.

      Army Lt. Col. William H. Steele faces nine charges in
      all, including fraternizing with a prisoner's
      daughter, storing and marking classified material,
      maintaining an inappropriate relationship with an
      interpreter and possessing pornographic videos.

      The rare charges were among the most serious levied
      against a senior American officer in Iraq, but were
      the latest in a series of embarrassments for the U.S.
      military detention system here.

      The alleged incidents occurred from October 2005 to
      this February, starting when Steele was commander of
      the 451st Military Police Detachment at Camp Cropper
      on the western outskirts of Baghdad and in his later
      post as a senior patrol officer for the provincial
      transition team headquarters at nearby Camp Victory,
      the main U.S. military base.

      Steele was detained in March and is being held in
      Kuwait pending an Article 32 hearing, the military
      equivalent of a grand jury hearing, officials said.
      His age and hometown were not released.

      The U.S. military command declined to comment on the
      case but stressed nothing had been proven. "These are
      troublesome allegations, but again they are just
      allegations at the moment," the main U.S. military
      spokesman, Maj. Gen. William Caldwell, told The
      Associated Press Radio.

      The most serious charge, aiding the enemy, was tied to
      Steele's time at the jail at Camp Cropper.

      Military officials refused to give any details about
      the charge, including who used the phone and how.

      Saddam spent most of his final days at the Camp
      Cropper jail before his Dec. 30 execution at an Iraqi
      military base in northern Baghdad, and many members of
      his regime remain among the facility's 3,000 or so
      prisoners.

      A new, $60 million jail opened at the base in August
      and many inmates were transferred there from Abu
      Ghraib prison, which was closed and transferred to
      Iraqi control after gaining notoriety for widely
      publicized photographs of American guards and
      interrogators abusing detainees.

      Steele served at Camp Cropper from October 2005
      through the end of October 2006, after which he
      transferred to Camp Victory with the 89th Military
      Police Brigade, said a military spokesman, Lt. Col.
      James Hutton. He was arrested while based at Camp
      Victory, the spokesman said.

      Eugene Fidell, president of the National Institute of
      Military Justice, said the charge of aiding the enemy
      "could cover a multitude of sins," but he said a
      prosecutor would be hard pressed to get a death
      sentence without showing "evidence that the purpose
      was really to aid the enemy and hurt our side."

      However, he added, Steele could be found guilty
      regardless of his intent in loaning the phone to a
      detainee - "even if he thought the detainee was
      calling his wife's allergist" - as long as the phone
      calls helped the detainee or some enemy.

      Steele also is accused of fraternizing with the
      daughter of a detainee toward the end of his tenure at
      Camp Cropper and during his subsequent posting at Camp
      Victory.

      Other charges stemming from his tenure at Camp Victory
      include failing to obey an order by an MP deputy
      commander and possessing pornographic videos. He also
      is charged with failing to fulfill his obligations in
      the expenditure of funds, the military said without
      elaboration.

      Hutton declined to provide more details on the
      charges, saying the investigation was still under way.

      In a similar case, a Muslim chaplain in the Army,
      Capt. James Yee, was charged in 2003 with mishandling
      classified material, failing to obey an order, making
      a false official statement, adultery and conduct
      unbecoming an officer after the military linked him to
      a possible espionage ring at the Guantanamo Bay prison
      where suspected terrorists are housed.

      All criminal charges were dismissed in March 2004, but
      Army officials found Yee guilty of the non-criminal
      charges of adultery and downloading pornography. But
      the reprimand he received was thrown out by a general
      a month later and he later received an honorable
      discharge.

      ---

      Associated Press writer Sarah DiLorenzo in New York
      contributed to this report.
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