Janis Karpinski

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U.S. Army Reserve Brigadier General Janis L. Karpinski, until the Bush administration scandal regarding Abu Ghraib "where Saddam Hussein's political opponents were tortured and hanged," served as "the lone female commander in Iraq, [who ran] the prison system that once was an apparatus of terror." [1]

Karpinski was "also responsible for 3,400 National Guard and Army reservists deployed from the Persian Gulf to the northern city of Mosul. Among them ... a military police unit from St. Petersburg that helps guard Abu Ghraib, renamed Baghdad Central and now housing hundreds of garden-variety criminals as well as those accused of violence against coalition troops." [2]

Terence Hunt, writing for the May 25, 2004, Army Times, reports that the Pentagon has "suspended Brig. Gen. Janis Karpinski from her command." Karpinski and Brig. Gen. Ricardo S. Sanchez "have [both] become symbols of lax supervision at the Abu Ghraib prison where U.S. soldiers allegedly abused Iraqi inmates."

"Karpinski and other officers in the 800th Military Police Brigade were faulted by Army investigators for paying too little attention to day-to-day operations of the Abu Ghraib prison and for not moving firmly enough to discipline soldiers for violating standard procedures.

"Karpinski's suspension, which has not yet been announced by the Army, was the latest in a series of actions against officers and enlisted soldiers implicated in the abuse scandal at the prison near Baghdad."

"Karpinski, who has returned to the United States, has not been charged with an offense. Being suspended from her command does not mean she has been relieved of command, so technically she could be reinstated, although the intensity of the international furor over the Abu Ghraib prisoner abuse makes that highly unlikely, said the officials, speaking on condition of anonymity.

"'I don't know what the grounds are,' Karpinski told MSNBC Monday night. 'I know that I've been suspended. When I see it in writing, there will be an explanation for it. And what that means is I'm suspended from my position as the commander of the 800th Military Police Brigade, and they assign me to another position until whatever the reason is, whatever the basis is, is cleared.'

"In his widely cited investigation report on the Abu Ghraib abuse allegations, Maj. Gen. Antonio M. Taguba found heavy fault with Karpinski's performance and recommended that she be relieved of command and given a formal reprimand. Instead she was given a less-severe 'memorandum of admonishment' on Jan. 17 by Sanchez.

"Taguba reported that despite the documented abuse of prisoners, he saw no evidence that Karpinski ever attempted to remind the military police in her command of the requirements of the Geneva Conventions, which protect prisoners of war and civilian detainees in times of armed conflict."

Douglas Jehl and Eric Schmitt reported on May 23, 2004, that "General (Karpinski) Says Sanchez Rejected Her Offer to Give Address to Iraqis About Abuses."

Karpinski says Sanchez "rejected a recommendation in January that the military make a public Arabic-language radio or television address to the Iraqi people to confront accusations of abuse at Abu Ghraib prison" and also said that "Sanchez visited a military intelligence unit at Abu Ghraib at least three times in October [2003], when the first of the worst abuses were taking place. And while General Sanchez has said he did not learn of the abuses until Jan. 14, General Karpinski said his top deputy, Maj. Gen. Walter Wojdakowski, was present at a meeting in late November at which there was extensive discussion of a Red Cross report that cited specific cases of abuse."

R. Jeffrey Smith and Josh White, writing for the May 12, 2004, Washington Post, in "General Asserts She Was Overruled on Prison Moves," say that

Karpinski, the "U.S. general who was in charge of running prisons in Iraq told Army investigators earlier this year that she had resisted decisions by superior officers to hand over control of the prisons to military intelligence officials and to authorize the use of lethal force as a first step in keeping order -- command decisions that have come in for heavy criticism in the Iraq prison abuse scandal. ... It places two of the highest-ranking Army officers now in Iraq, Maj. Gen. Geoffrey Miller and Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez, at the heart of decision-making on both matters."

In 1990 and 1991, Karpinski (then a Major) was tapped by Fort Bragg to lead training courses for female soldiers in the United Arab Emirates. Because Muslim men could not see women uncovered or touch them to adjust their position holding a rifle, ten American women were sent from the United States to teach the new recruits. Karpinski was already in Saudi Arabia at the time. [3]

From a partial transcript of a May 5, 2004, Fox News interview with Karpinski, "with her attorney, former U.S. Marine Corps lieutenant colonel Neal Puckett," by Greta Van Susteren:

VAN SUSTEREN: General Karpinski, was in charge of military police, who have no authority to do interrogations, right?

PUCKETT: In fact, they're specifically prohibited from participating in interrogations, and that's the question to be asked here, is why were they involved in an interrogation process controlled solely by military intelligence personnel?

VAN SUSTEREN: OK, so General, the military intelligence, which is doing the interrogation, was actually overseen by a Colonel Pappas (ph), right?

KARPINSKI: That's correct.

VAN SUSTEREN: Where is Colonel Pappas? Because I heard your name floating around all the time, but I'm not hearing his.

KARPINSKI: I do not know. I don't know where he is. He was in Iraq the last time I was in Iraq, but I don't know where he is now.

VAN SUSTEREN: All right. And over him was Major General Barbara Fast (ph). And so she, no doubt, is giving directions or in the chain of command of Colonel Pappas who's in the military intelligence that does the interrogation. Where is she?

KARPINSKI: I don't know where she is, either. I understand that she's no longer in Iraq.

VAN SUSTEREN: Why is this attention all on you? I mean, you know, you're military police. You're supposed to take care of the detainee, you're not supposed to do the interrogation. Why do we hear your name all the time?

KARPINSKI: Well, I have the same question. And it seems to be intentional, particularly when the photos were initially released here in the United States and widely broadcast. My name was the only name that was being mentioned in conjunction with any of it. And I was not relieved. I was not suspended. I was not sacked, as one report...

Note: Colonel Thomas M. Pappas was in charge of the 205th Military Intelligence Brigade. [4]

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