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Lt. Col. William Steele, Commandant at Camp Cropper Prison Arrested in Iraq | The Rough Cut

by David Phinney
Saturday August 19th 2017

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Lt. Col. William Steele, Commandant at Camp Cropper Prison Arrested in Iraq

by David Phinney


April 25, 2007 — A former top prison commander at a prison known for “high-value” detainees, Camp Cropper, Iraq, has been quietly under arrest for weeks and detained in Kuwait under charges that he was aiding the enemy, according to numerous independent sources.

U.S. officials arrested Army Lt. Col. William H. Steele, 51, as long as three weeks ago. In addition to charges that he was aiding insurgents, he also is accused of having personal relationships with Iraqi women, misappropriating government funds and conduct unbecoming of an officer. (The relationships may not have been sexual.)

U.S. military sources were contacted last Friday: But made themselves unavailable for comment to confirm or deny the charges. However, the Army released a statement Wednesday afternoon claiming that Steele faces nine charges, notably “aiding the enemy.” (Press release below)

Other charges: Include retaining classified material; failure to obey lawful orders; wrongfully storing classified materials; improperly marking classified materials; failing to obey an order from a superior officer; possession of pornography and dereliction of duty as an approving official for the expenditure of government funds.

Steel is charged with aiding the enemy because of accusations that he provided “an unmonitored cellular phone to detainees.”

Steele’s mother in Frostburg, Md., said by phone Friday that she hadn’t heard from her son in three weeks and wasn’t sure why. Attempts to contact his wife have been unsuccessful. Steele last resided in Prince George, Va., according to Army sources.

Camp Cropper is a high-value holding facility: for insurgents and others is where former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein was held for a time. Located near the Baghdad International Airport, the prison camp has been identified as a place where torture has taken place that equals that of Abu Ghraib.

Former American detainees Donald Vance and Nathan Ertel were held without charges for months last year after being taken to Camp Cropper in mid-April, 2006. Both met with Steele briefly before being released, Vance said.

In a lawsuit against the U.S. government and former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld: Vance and Ertel claim they were subjected to constant abuse 24 hours a day.

Lights were kept on in their cell around the clock. They endured solitary confinement. They had only thin plastic mattresses on concrete for sleeping. Meals were of powdered milk and bread or rice and chicken, but interrupted by selective deprivation of food and water. Ceaseless heavy metal and country music screamed in their ears for hours on end, their legal complaint alleges.

They lived through “conditions of confinement and interrogation tantamount to torture”, says the lawsuit filed in northern Illinois U.S. District Court. “Their interrogators utilised the types of physically and mentally coercive tactics that are supposedly reserved for terrorists and so-called enemy combatants.”

Vance claims that during the months leading up to his arrest, he worked as an unpaid informant for the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Sometimes twice a day, he would share information with an agent in Chicago about the Iraqi-owned Shield Group Security, whose principals and managers appeared to be involved in weapons deals and violence against Iraqi civilians.

A third detainee: Joseph Trimpert, was also arrested the same day as Vance and Ertel and held until August 10, 2006. An anonymous posting on myspace.com seems to represent Trimpert’s telling of his experience with photos of his release papers.

Opened in April 2003: The facility began modestly with some 150 detainees, but has since exploded to an estimated 3,000 under the recent U.S. military effort to crack down on insurgents in and around Baghdad. Since 2003, six inmates have died at the facility. according to the military. The latest death is still under investigation. The latest died April 4 and the cause of death remains under investigation.

Brutal treatment is apparently an ongoing problem among the detainees at Cropper, The Los Angeles Times reported April 8:

A former detainee from Camp Cropper, where Saddam Hussein and other high-profile prisoners have been held, said he once watched Sunni militants attack a former police officer whom they suspected of being an informer. He said six men, their faces hidden by towels, gathered around the victim in a dormitory at 2 a.m.

Two kept a lookout for U.S. soldiers while one man swung a sock stuffed with rocks at the inmate’s head, he said. The man tried to get up, but another pressed him down with a foot to the chest. The attackers pummeled his head, spattering themselves with his blood, until he lost consciousness.

When they had finished, other prisoners dragged the victim to the front of the hall, where the U.S. guards would find him.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
RELEASE No. 20070426-01
April 26, 2007
Charges announced
Multi-National Corps – Iraq PAO
Baghdad, Iraq- Lt. Col. William H. Steele has been charged with offenses under the provisions of the Uniformed Code of Military Justice.
These charges are merely an accusation of wrongdoing. Lt. Col. Steele is presumed innocent unless and until he his proved guilty beyond a reasonable doubt of any alleged offense.
CHARGE I: Violation of the UCMJ, Article 104
Specification: In that Lieutenant Colonel William H. Steele, did, between on or about 1 October 2005 and 31 October 2006, aid the enemy by providing an unmonitored cellular phone to detainees.
CHARGE II: Violation of the UCMJ, Article 134
Specification: In that Lieutenant Colonel William H. Steele, did between on or about 31 October 2006 and 22 February 2007, having unauthorized possession of classified information, violate Title 18, United States Code, Section 793(e), by knowingly and willfully retaining the same and failing to deliver it to the officer or employee of the United States.
CHARGE III: Violation of the UCMJ, Article 133
Specification 1: In that Lieutenant Colonel William H. Steele, did, between on or about 20 October 2005 and 22 February 2007, knowingly and wrongfully fraternize with the daughter of a detainee, wherein such acts constituted conduct unbecoming an officer in the armed forces.
Specification 2: In that Lieutenant Colonel William H. Steele, did, between on or about 1 December 2005 and 11 December 2006, knowingly and wrongfully provide special privileges to and maintain an inappropriate relationship with an interpreter, wherein such acts constituted conduct unbecoming an officer in the armed forces.
CHARGE IV: Violation of the UCMJ, Article 92
Specification 1: In that Lieutenant Colonel William H. Steele, did, between on or about 18 February 2007 and 21 February 2007, violate a lawful general regulation, to wit: paragraph 7-4, Army Regulation 380-5, dated 29 September 2000, by wrongfully and knowingly storing classified information in his living space.
Specification 2: In that Lieutenant Colonel William H. Steele, did, between on or about 1 September 2006 and 21 February 2007, violate a lawful general regulation, to wit: paragraph 4-32, Army Regulation 380-5, dated 29 September 2000, by improperly marking classified information.
Specification 3: In that Lieutenant Colonel William H. Steele, having knowledge of a lawful order issued by the 89th Military Police Brigade Deputy Commander, did, at or near Camp Victory, Iraq, on or about 22 February 2007, fail to obey the order.
Specification 4: In that Lieutenant Colonel William H. Steele, did, between on or about 18 February 2007 and 21 February 2007, violate a lawful general order, to wit: paragraph 2e, Multi-National Corps-Iraq General Order Number 1, dated 16 December 2006, by wrongfully and knowingly possessing pornographic videos.
Specification 5: In that Lieutenant Colonel William H. Steele, between on or about 1 October 2005 and 31 October 2006, was derelict in the performance of his duties in that he willfully failed to fulfill his obligations as an approving authority in the expenditure of Field Ordering Officer funds.
-30-
James Hutton
Lieutenant Colonel, U.S. Army
Public Affairs Officer
Q&A: Responses received Thu 4/26/2007 6:18 AM
Received 21 Apr:
Q1: Where do I get in touch with Lt. Col. Steele, or do you know his whereabouts? My understanding is that he is no longer stationed at Cropper. What happened?
A1. LTC Steele commanded a compound within Camp Cropper from October 2005 until he completed this assignment in September 2006. He then volunteered to serve in another position in Iraq. He is currently in pre-trial confinement at the Theater Field Confinement Facility (TFCF), pending court-martial charges under the Uniform Code of Military Justice.
Q2: How many American detainees are there presently at Cropper and Camp Bucca? What are the charges?
A2. Currently, three American citizens are in MNF-I Theater Internment Facilities. None of the allegations against Lt. Col. Steele are related to these individuals.
Received 23 Apr:
Q3: It has come to my attention that Army Lt. Col. William H. Steele is being detained in Kuwait and awaiting trial under the U.S. military code of Justice. Other military personnel related to this matter may also be held.
A3: Lt Col. Steele is being held in the TFCF in Kuwait. All US Military pre-trial prisoners within the CENTCOM AOR are held in this facility. Military post-trial prisoners are held in the TFCF until they can be transferred to permanent confinement facilities. The TFCF confines only U.S. military prisoners. No other military personnel are pending charges in this matter.
Q4: My understanding is that Lt. Col. Steele was the commander of the Camp Cropper prison. Correct? What are the dates of his Camp Cropper command and his responsibilities?
A4: Answered Above A1
Q5: My further understanding is that Lt. Col. Steele is being held for aiding and abetting imprisoned insurgents and American detainees? Correct? Others may also be involved?
A5: These charges are merely an accusation of wrongdoing. Lt. Col. Steele is presumed innocent unless and until he his proved guilty beyond a reasonable doubt of any alleged offense.
Lt. Col. Steele was charged on March 14, 2007 with the following offenses under the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ)

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8 Responses to “Lt. Col. William Steele, Commandant at Camp Cropper Prison Arrested in Iraq”

  1. Elinete says:

    Harry, et al-Ah the joys of not reading the link. Unless of coruse you are suggesting that the UN is torturing prisoners with the approval of the Red Cross? Or the parents that were asking for the younger sons being admitted to the prison irrational because of some virus that jumps from prisoner to prisoner and then maybe prisoner to family? Or the fact that AFP, which has been only to glad to publicize any mistake the US made and any that never occured released a slight mea culpa in this article by pointing out that the Americans were treating the detainees, who they were allowed to hold under the current UN Resolutions 1511 and 1770, well.

  2. Princess says:

    A little late for the Republican party. Why did it take a black preidsent for the party to do this? There is no way this brings more blacks into the party. If anything this will have the Palin effect. No consideration for a woman until Hillary and no consideration for a black to lead anything until President Obama. Change the way you treat and think of people and maybe things will change. You cannot be the elite party and think of the rest of the population as your doormats and servants. The conservative way is not the only way. Remember freedom of choice. We can all exist with different views. As long as you continue your old ways you will forever be the Grand Old Party.

  3. Dan says:

    Oh boy I served under Lt Col Steele during his time there and I will say that no abuse occured in the facility during the time I was there A {Year} Lt Col Steele was not a perfect commander but he was for damn sure no the worst Some of these charges are ridiculous while others, I can believe and for the vance and others They are personnel who were caught doing something illegal too bad the iraqis didnt catch em..they could have had the heads cut off…Dont believe everyhting that is said and dont believe eveything that is written as some of these charges by people are easily proven false..!!!!

  4. Mo Lubee says:

    Sooooooo, the charges came in April…. and the “trial” is coming…. when?
    Are any flags going up here at all? What’s the delay? Has the Courts Martial date been set, or will Steele be confined for years before getting due process?
    Seems like the Army does’t particularly want the Press to hear some of the things that will be coming out in the trial relative to the real reason Bill got the Big Wigs after his ass.
    Wonder if they’re waiting for the two undercover FBI informants that are suing for illegal detention in Camp Cropper to be bought off or otherwise silenced?
    Seems like the longer the Army drags it’s feet, the more everyone knows their “case” is based on a smelly load of crap.
    C’mon Army, let’s see what ya got.

  5. Public says:

    He is the same LTC William Steele that was formerly the CID USAR Liaison around the 2001 -2003/04 timeframe.

  6. Sandysurf says:

    This may be one of Army CID’s own former officers. A few years ago there was an LTC William H. Steele at Army CID HQ at Ft. Belvoir, VA. He was in charge of all Army CID Reserve Affairs. I do not know if CID has issued a press release yet in this regard. This will be interesting if that is the same person.

  7. ic says:

    Seems the only one got physically beaten was by Sunni militants, (i.e. insurgents), not by anyone from the Camp. Seems sleep deprivation and witholding of 4 square meals were legitimate means to force someone to talk. Seems someone wants a big thick mattress to relax on. It’s Camp Cropper not Club Cropper.
    The only legitimate complain was that they were not tried more expeditiously. The only torture was the blaring of heavy metal music which I can’t stand. Other than that, though luck.

  8. Nickolas Dilmore says:

    Umm….unless Cropper’s undergone a major overhaul in two years, the reports of abuse strike me as being majorly bogus, especially from the two Americans. The Red Cross regularly visited Cropper, personnel manned the towers overlooking the detainees that were from different units than the guards inside the wire. Also, Cropper is just not that big, and since reporters– hell–anyone without proper clearance wasn’t allowed in camp, I’m having a hard time believing any of the reports about it.

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