Army Spc. Charles Graner had a habit of disobeying orders from his military police superiors while serving as a guard at Abu Ghraib prison, according to testimony Wednesday from the first witness for the defense.
Master Sgt. Brian Lipinski, then the top noncommissioned officer in the 372nd Military Police Company, said under cross-examination that Graner wore his hair too long, altered his uniform in violation of regulations and refused to stay away from Pfc. Lynndie England despite being repeatedly told to do so.
"He just didn't like to follow orders," said prosecutor Maj. Michael Holley asked Lipinski.
"That's true, sir," Lipinski said.
"He wants to do his own thing?" Holley said.
"Yes, sir," the sergeant responded.
England, who is awaiting trial on Abu Ghraib abuse charges, gave birth in October to a child who Army prosecutors say was the result of a relationship with Graner.
The testimony raised questions about the very foundation of Graner's defense: When he abused prisoners at Abu Ghraib, he had no choice but to follow orders from military and civilian intelligence officers.
Graner, a 36-year-old reservist from Uniontown, Pa., is the first soldier to be tried in the case. Graner is accused of being the ringleader of abuse at Abu Ghraib. He is charged with conspiracy, assault, committing indecent acts and other offenses. He could get up to 17 1/2 years in a military prison if found guilty by a jury of four Army officers and six enlisted men.
Lipinski also testified that Graner initially lied about the cause of face and neck injuries suffered by a detainee in November 2003.
Graner and then-Staff Sgt. Ivan Frederick told Lipinski and an officer that the detainee tripped on a pile of rubble in the prison, the witness said. But later Graner admitted that he slammed the prisoner against the wall, Lipinski said. The impact was hard enough to leave a smear of blood on the wall.
Lipinski said Graner was warned then about his conduct and told that leaders of the 372nd would be watching him. The warning came after the offenses Graner is charged with, according to prosecutors.
Lipinski was called by the defense as a way to introduce a report about the wall-slamming incident because the report also included references to military intelligence officers praising Graner and others for softening up prisoners for interrogation.
He was not the only defense witness who ended up offering useful testimony for the prosecution.
Frederick, earlier a prosecution witness, was called back to testify about the role played by intelligence officers.
He said they knew about the use of force, and that they didn't tell them the guards to stop.
"They told us we were doing a good job, and to keep up the good work," Frederick said.
But under cross-examination, Frederick said he once refused to follow instructions from a military intelligence officer because that person wanted him to use too much force. He said Graner was with him when he refused.
Prosecutors rested their case Tuesday after an Iraqi detainee testified by video that Graner stacked him and others into a naked human pyramid and later forced them to masturbate in front of female soldiers while pictures were taken.
Another detainee said Graner forced him to eat pork and drink alcohol in violation of his Muslim faith, and on one occasion made him thank Jesus for keeping him alive at the notorious Baghdad prison.