Entering a plea of not guilty for Reservist Charles Garner on Friday, his lawyer said the guilty superiors were unlikely to face justice.
"The sun is still shining, the sky is blue, we are in America," Garner, striking an upbeat mood, said as he left the courthouse at a Texas military base.
The court picked a 10-man military jury and opening arguments were scheduled for Monday in a trial expected to last at least a week.
Garner and Private Lynndie England, with whom he fathered a child and who is also facing a court-martial, became the faces of the Abu Ghraib prison scandal after they appeared in photographs that showed degraded, naked prisoners.
His lawyer restated his plea of not guilty on all the charges. Garner faces seventeen-and-a-half years in prison on charges that include conspiracy to mistreat detainees, dereliction of duty, maltreating detainees and assault.
Prosecutors say they plan to introduce photographs, videos of abuses and testimony from about 10 people in the case. With Garner's actions documented, his lawyers will argue he was doing what his superiors told him to do.
"Our defence is that Garner was following orders," Guy Womack said.
"Here we know that there were officers, commissioned officers, all the way up to at least a colonel that were giving orders and none of them have been charged at all."
Asked if superiors had ordered Garner to make Iraqi prisoners masturbate or stack themselves into human pyramids, Womack said: "There were very specific orders about doing some things, there were implicit orders about other things."
The Bush administration and military leaders have blamed the abuses on a small group of soldiers. But many believe Washington subtly encouraged the ill-treatment of prisoners.