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Top US officer at Camp Cropper charged with aiding enemy

[JURIST] The US military announced Thursday that the former commander of the 451st Military Police Detachment responsible for the detention facility at Camp Cropper near Baghdad has been charged [Central Command press release] with multiple offences under the Uniform Code of Military Justice [text], including aiding the enemy, unauthorized possession of classified information, disobeying orders, and various counts of conduct unbecoming an officer, including fraternization with the daughter of a detainee and having an improper relationship with an interpreter. Lt. Col. William H. Steele was additionally charged with possessing pornographic videos contrary to a general order. The charge of aiding the enemy was laid for supposedly "providing an unmonitored cellular phone to detainees." The offences were allegedly committed between October 2005 and February 2007. Steele was arrested last month and is currently being held in Kuwait pending an Article 32 hearing [JAG backgrounder] and possible court-martial.

Camp Cropper [Wikipedia backgrounder], located near Baghdad International Airport, is the second-largest US-run military prison [WP report] in Iraq after Camp Bucca in the wake of the closing of the notorious Abu Ghraib [JURIST news archive] prison which the US emptied [JURIST report] and transferred to the Iraqi government in 2006. Cropper currently has some 3000 inmates. For several years previous it held a variety of high value detainees, including former Iraqi Deputy Prime Minister Tariq Aziz, who is still there. A US military spokesman said Thursday that it was not, however, the holding facility for late Iraqi president Saddam Hussein as generally reported in the media; Hussein was brought to the camp for medical checks and was held there immediately prior to his execution but was incarcerated at another secret facility. The Washington Post has more.

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