Baghdad -- A U.S. military commander who helped oversee the prison camp that once held Saddam Hussein has been charged with aiding the enemy, mishandling classified information and engaging in "inappropriate" relationships, officials said yesterday.
Lt. Col William H. Steele was arrested last month and accused of nine violations of U.S. military code, which also included keeping classified information in his living space, failing to monitor funds, disobeying an order and possessing pornographic videos, the military said.
The most serious accusation of aiding the enemy arose from allegations that Steele provided an unmonitored cell phone to detainees between October 2005 and October 2006.
He also was accused in a formal statement of charges with wrongfully fraternizing with the daughter of a detainee and giving special privileges to an interpreter, with whom he maintained an "inappropriate relationship." Steele is being held at a detention facility in Kuwait pending the outcome of an Article 32 military hearing, which is roughly equivalent to a grand jury inquiry.
"The results of the Article 32 hearing will determine whether it goes to court-martial," said Lt. Col. Jocelyn Aberle, a military spokeswoman in Iraq.
Steele was a senior commander at Camp Cropper, a large U.S. detention facility near Baghdad International Airport. The camp is best known for holding high-value detainees, including Hussein before he was executed late last year.
The camp now holds several thousand detainees, including many transferred from Abu Ghraib prison after the 2004 scandal in which U.S. soldiers abused and humiliated Iraqi detainees.
Steele, whose age was not released by the military, was the commander of the 451st Military Police Detachment. In that role, he was one of a handful of senior military officers who reported to the commander of Camp Cropper, Aberle said.
Edmund Sanders writes for the Los Angeles Times.