Spc. Charles Graner, the alleged ringleader of the Iraq prison abuse scandal at Abu Ghraib prison that rocked the U.S. military, is set to face a jury Monday composed of 10 soldiers who themselves have served in Iraq or Afghanistan.
Graner's attorney, Guy Womack, defended his client to "Good Morning America" host Bill Weir.
Bill Weir: "Your client claims he was just following orders. And given a few months of reflection, does he regret following those orders? Would he do it all over again?"
Womack: "He doesn't regret it. He regrets that his chain of command has abandoned him, that they lack the moral courage that he has. But, no, he followed orders, just as any combat soldier or Marine would have to follow orders."
Weir: "Did he do that begrudgingly, do you think? Because if you look at those photographs, it looks like he was having a pretty good time."
Womack: "He did do it begrudgingly and complained on a daily basis to his commanding -- his commanders and other senior officers and enlisted, they always told him he was doing a good job, that it was helping the war effort and that he was to continue following the orders of military intelligence. And he did so."
Weir: "Now, you dismissed one prospective juror, a lieutenant colonel, because he admitted the photographs offended and embarrassed him as a soldier. Are you concerned that there may be others on that jury who may secretly feel that same way?"
Womack: "No, that colonel showed remarkable moral courage. He was candid. He told us that he could not be fair in the case. He told us that he should not sit as a member. Graner told me that he liked that colonel because of his candor, but we had to let him go because of what he said. We had to … respect his wishes. No, I think the other members are there and will do exactly what they said under oath. He will get a fair trial."
Weir: "You aren't allowed to steal a page from Tom Cruise in 'A Few Good Men' and put a commander on the stand. So how do you prove that your client was following orders without being able to do that?"
Womack: "Well, we would be allowed to do that, but the judge won't let us. The convening authority refused to give testimonial immunity to several senior officers who could have certainly helped us in this case. The judge refused to order the convening authority to give them immunity and, of course, those officers would not want to come in like Jack Nicholson and testify. So we'll do it through enlisted men who heard orders being given.
"Some enlisted men called by the government gave orders and they'll have to admit that, because they are testifying under immunity. And, of course, Spc. Graner and others can testify, as well.
Weir: "I know you have experience with military justice, which is a whole different animal from the civilian sector, as well. Commanders have all the power. So if your case is based on the lone, good soldier fighting the system, and the commander in chief comes out and points the finger at your client, isn't that a tall order for you to win?"
Womack: "Well it is, but each of the members were asked those questions during voir dire and every single member looked at me and the judge under oath and told us without flinching that they could completely disregard anything they've heard in the media, any comments made by their chain of command all the way up to the commander in chief, and that they would give Spc. Graner a fair trial. I expect them to do that as fellow officers, and I'm going to hold them to it."