My Lunch With Janice Karpinski

[2 Updates: On the secret document, and on Karpinski’s backers]

I was invited to a luncheon at which Col./formerly Gen. Janice Karpinski was the guest speaker.

It was a Hollywood crowd; smart, well-dressed, strongly convinced about a number of things.

One of them is the innocence of Ms. Karpinski.

I sat to Ms. Karpinski’s (I use Ms. Karpinski through not out of disrespect to her rank, but because I’m honestly not sure which rank I should be addressing her by) left; to her right sat a woman wearing a large ‘Code Pink’ button (she left before I did, so I couldn’t ask her about their vigils at Walter Reed).

The readers of this blog are doubtless familiar with Janice Karpinski; she was the commander of the Reserve brigade that, among other things was responsible for Abu Ghraib back when Lynndie English had her little birthday party.

I’ve not commented deeply on the whole Abu Ghraib /torture issue because there’s been a lot more smoke than light everywhere I looked, and picking between the competing plausible narratives (I’m skipping the “U.S. military are bloodthirsty murders and torturers” one) require more knowledge than I have. I’m opposed to torture, for a variety of reasons, including lack of proof that it works, and think that the only moral position is one that requires the torturer to run the legal risk and moral hazard. But I’ll also suggest that there are a lot of aggressive techniques – most of what is done to our own troops in SERE training – that I would hesitate to classify as torture.

Even so, I was negatively predisposed to Ms. Karpinski when I did accept the invitation, but for a more general reason. Typically, people work for me in the course of my job, and I in turn am responsible to other people. Things go wrong, and some of them go wrong enough that far more-senior folks want to know what the hell happened.When that happens, I always take responsibility for what my people do; I believe that I am, without exception, ultimately responsible for them and their actions. That doesn’t mean I won’t fire someone – I do that a fair amount. Or that the thing I will take responsibility for was hiring a moron and then not supervising them well. I’ve done that, too.

From the press reports that I saw, Ms. Karpinski (I don’t know which rank I should use in addressing her) never did. She was reported as listing a host of other people who were responsible for what happened, and I was unimpressed by that.

But reality has a way of trumping my assumptions, so I decided that I should take on the opportunity to meet her and hear what she had to say for myself. At the end are the notes I took on my Treo. Note that she was asked if this was off the record, and said that she’d inform us if anything was off the record. Nothing was.

I’ll sum up her points as I took them:

* She led a battalion of reserves who were chartered with managing prisoners of war. But they were not used substantially in that capacity, and were used for escort service – she implies elite escort service – and other ‘random tasks’ for some time after deployment. They were then in charge of a network of prisons, including Abu Ghraib.

* At first they had ‘common prisoners’ who she suggested were common criminals and low-level POW’s. they processed and released 40,000 of them, and had a 0% recidivism rate – “because we were so good” (her words).

* But abuse was widespread in Iraq, and led from the top. Not her, or her team, but the Military Intelligence (MI) and Other Government Agency (OGA) folks who handled the specific cellblock where abuse took place.

* It was a deliberate policy to gather intel, and she opposed it, which is one key reason why she was at odds with her leadership. She hints at extensive cover-ups, reaching far up the chain of command.

* The MI and OGA subverted her leadership by reaching out to the weakest members of her teams and ‘seducing’ them.

* She knew nothing about the abuse at Abu Ghraib until she was informed by Gen. Sanchez.

I appreciated her willingness to come out and talk, and answer questions. I asked her two – first, whether she stood behind her charges that female soldiers had died because they were too afraid to use the latrines at night – because of the risk of rape – and so did not drink enough fluids.

Her response was that she absolutely did stand behind them.

I also asked her, when she was describing the mysterious contractors who wore no ID and never identified themselves how they had received access to the prison without ID badges. “If I were to drive up in a land Cruiser and ID myself as a spook, would they have let me in?” I asked. “No,” she replied. “So how did these guys get in?” “Col. Pappas authorized them.”

So I walked out of our nice restaurant, and one of the other attendees came out with me, and I asked him what he’d thought. “I’m not sure,” he replied.

“Me neither. I’ve got two huge problems with what she said. First, all the pictures were taken on one weekend. that undercuts the notion that someone in power wanted the pictures. Next, the fact that copies of the pictures stayed with the soldiers who took them – that the CIA spooks didn’t collect and keep them, knowing what would happen if they got out. And we know the soldiers kept them because of how they came out to the military and to the press.”

“And I can’t believe that people walked around a secure prison with no uniforms and no ID based on one Colonel’s say-so. How did that work?”

And so I drove away doubtful but still somewhat confused. So I went and did some research, and found the Inspector General’s report that she was so critical of. It’s available as a pdf on the NPR site. Go read the whole thing.

It paints a very different picture than that given by Ms. Karpinski; understandable given that she feels that the report scapegoated her. But there are a series of damning factual claims made in the report which go the heart of what may well have happened at Abu Ghraib. They include:

22. (U) The documentation provided to this investigation identified 27 escapes or attempted escapes from the detention facilities throughout the 800th MP Brigade’s AOR. Based on my assessment and detailed analysis of the substandard accountability process maintained by the 800th MP Brigade, it is highly likely that there were several more unreported cases of escape that were probably “written off” as administrative errors or otherwise undocumented. 1LT Lewis Raeder, Platoon Leader, 372nd MP Company, reported knowing about at least two additional escapes (one from a work detail and one from a window) from Abu Ghraib (BCCF) that were not documented. LTC Dennis McGlone, Commander, 744th MP Battalion, detailed the escape of one detainee at the High Value Detainee Facility who went to the latrine and then outran the guards and escaped. Lastly, BG Janis Karpinski, Commander, 800th MP Brigade, stated that there were more than 32 escapes from her holding facilities, which does not match the number derived from the investigation materials.

25. (U) After Action Reviews (AARs) are not routinely being conducted after an escape or other serious incident. No lessons learned seem to have been disseminated to subordinate units to enable corrective action at the lowest level. The Investigation Team requested copies of AARs, and none were provided. (Multiple Witness Statements)

26. (U) Lessons learned (i.e. Findings and Recommendations from various 15-6 Investigations concerning escapes and accountability lapses) were rubber stamped as approved and ordered implemented by BG Karpinski. There is no evidence that the majority of her orders directing the implementation of substantive changes were ever acted upon. Additionally, there was no follow-up by the command to verify the corrective actions were taken. Had the findings and recommendations contained within their own investigations been analyzed and actually implemented by BG Karpinski, many of the subsequent escapes, accountability lapses, and cases of abuse may have been prevented. (ANNEXES 5-10)

31. (U) SGM Marc Emerson, Operations SGM, 320th MP Battalion, contended that the Detainee Rules of Engagement (DROE) and the general principles of the Geneva Convention were briefed at every guard mount and shift change on Abu Ghraib. However, none of our witnesses, nor our personal observations, support his contention. I find that SGM Emerson was not a credible witness. (ANNEXES 45, 80, and the Personal Observations of the Investigation Team)

32. (U) Several interviewees insisted that the MP and MI Soldiers at Abu Ghraib (BCCF) received regular training on the basics of detainee operations; however, they have been unable to produce any verifying documentation, sign-in rosters, or soldiers who can recall the content of this training. (ANNEXES 59, 80, and the Absence of any Training Records)

33. (S/NF) The various detention facilities operated by the 800th MP Brigade have routinely held persons brought to them by Other Government Agencies (OGAs) without accounting for them, knowing their identities, or even the reason for their detention. The Joint Interrogation and Debriefing Center (JIDC) at Abu Ghraib called these detainees “ghost detainees.” On at least one occasion, the 320th MP Battalion at Abu Ghraib held a handful of “ghost detainees” (6-8) for OGAs that they moved around within the facility to hide them from a visiting International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) survey team. This maneuver was deceptive, contrary to Army Doctrine, and in violation of international law. (ANNEX 53)

34. (U) The following riots, escapes, and shootings have been documented and reported to this Investigation Team. Although there is no data from other missions of similar size and duration to compare the number of escapes with, the most significant factors derived from these reports are twofold. First, investigations and SIRs lacked critical data needed to evaluate the details of each incident. Second, each investigation seems to have pointed to the same types of deficiencies; however, little to nothing was done to correct the problems and to implement the recommendations as was ordered by BG Karpinski, nor was there any command emphasis to ensure these deficiencies were corrected:

a. (U) 4 June 03- This escape was mentioned in the 15-6 Investigation covering the 13 June 03 escape, recapture, and shootings of detainees at Camp Vigilant (320th MP Battalion). However, no investigation or additional information was provided as requested by this investigation team. (ANNEX 7)

b. (U) 9 June 03- Riot and shootings of five detainees at Camp Cropper. (115th MP Battalion) Several detainees allegedly rioted after a detainee was subdued by MPs of the 115th MP Battalion after striking a guard in compound B of Camp Cropper. A 15-6 investigation by 1LT Magowan (115th MP Battalion, Platoon Leader) concluded that a detainee had acted up and hit an MP. After being subdued, one of the MPs took off his DCU top and flexed his muscles to the detainees, which further escalated the riot. The MPs were overwhelmed and the guards fired lethal rounds to protect the life of the compound MPs, whereby 5 detainees were wounded. Contributing factors were poor communications, no clear chain of command, facility-obstructed views of posted guards, the QRF did not have non-lethal equipment, and the SOP was inadequate and outdated. (ANNEX 5)

There’s a lot more…go read it.

Note that these deficiencies predated the November decision to give Military Intelligence control of portions of the prison, the conflict of command which Karpinski blames for the lack of control of her troops.

The picture painted is sadly one of a Dilbert-esque world, except that instead of keyboards the badly managed characters have guns, dogs, clubs, and glowsticks. Note that this doesn’t prove that there was no policy of torture or brutality. I think that the low number of prisoner deaths is good first evidence of that, along with a lack of verifiable reports – in the face of an aggressive international press. But absence of evidence is not evidence of absence, as they say, and I continue to keep my eyes and ears open.

Here are my direct notes:

Karpinski. Steve Jordan – charged re Abu Ghraib
Oversight for 1A & 1B reported to Col Papas. Had oversight for the troops who had responsibility for the dead Iraqi.

One of his soldiers raped a prisoner.
3 problem soldiers. Were sent back to Iraq.

Titan & Kaki & OGA (other govt agencies) played Grainer – claims pix were to be used to intimidate prisoners.

She is convinced pictures were requested by MI and OGA to ‘soften up’ prisoners at other camps.

(My question) Col. Pappas put contractors on the list.

Guard discriminates on race strongly.

Her brigade had no mission – were in Kuwait. Got a whole series of random missions.

Sanchez wouldn’t let her team ‘dock’ and get resources from the parent org.

Processed 40k Iraqi prisoners in 6mos and none came back. She says because they were so good.

Jordan is a reservist – no regular army charged.

Guy in sleeping bag. Ordered to sit on his chest until he stopped breathing.

Gen. Miller was resp for techniques.

A Ms. Wood was responsible for interrogation techniques.

She only saw one interrogation – was very polite. She (K) commented that it wasn’t very effective.

No interrogations at Abu Ghreib led to anything.

Saddam’s capture was due to bribes to locals.

Sleeping bag guy believed the order was legal.

Someone high up is picking panels for court-marshals. Gen Cradock reviewed inspector-general order & decided not to reprimand Miller.

Cradock is aide to SecDef.

Aggressive hinting at high level coverups.

Guantanimo has nondi signed by all troops. Interrogation techniques came from there.

Untrained troops – reserves.

She felt personally “screwed” by Sanchez who would’t give resources.

Thinks MI selected inexperienced troops a la Grainer.

Every night contractors – whose names he never got – scared them working the night shift. And they were led to do the wrong thing by the mystery contractors.

CodePink speaker present claims that there is widespread torture based on her experience in two trips and direct contact with Iraqis who claimed to have been abused.

Karpinski says they held press conference to let locals know where they could find loved ones.

Got email re investigation 12 Jan & saw pix 23 Jan. No knowledge until then.

She unilaterally set up court to review & release prisoners who – on file review – seemed harmless.

She did meet an Israeli near the compound that held High Value prisoners. She thought he was Arab and asked him – he was in civilian clothes – and he answered, “No, I’m Israeli.”
Miller wanted to change name back from BCCF to Abu Ghreib to scare prisoners.

Gary deLand – contractor one of the keys.

Wolfowitz visited AG in August 03. Walked whole site – spent time walking around. He was thrilled with what was being one.

Rumsfeld comes a week later. Took a tour – saw torture chamber & hanging chamber & left.

She doesn’t feel responsible (in affect) she’s lashing out at her leadership. the crowd loves it – v. positive feedback.

27 thoughts on “My Lunch With Janice Karpinski”

  1. I think that you identify the key to her lack of credibility – she did not have a smartly run prison where others came in and coerced her unit into atrocities; instead she had a completely undisciplined and out of control unit for which the abuses were consistent with the rest of the conditions under her command.

    I find the reference to an Israeli odd – I can’t figure out the context from your note.

  2. At best, she was sloppy.

    Thanks for interesting report — I note her hinting about higher-ups feeds conspiracy Bush-hate, but also allows her deniability. “I never said THAT.”

    I wish you could follow up on the female soldiers dying from lack of fluids. Also on the death records of those in US custody — I’d guess there’s a site.

  3. The military is all about accountability up and down the chain of command. General Karpinski failed in her role, plain and simple. However, many others failed who were not punished. It’s undeniable that a lot of careers were protected from this disaster of leadership. Senior officers are supposed to do one thing: provide leadership. So why was there no oversight or leadership accountability for Granier and his cronies? The officers and senior NCO’s assigned above Granier and the rest deserved stiff punishments as well.

    A huge problem in the military today is lack of accountability for flag-ranked officers, who routinely get slaps on the wrist or early retirement for crimes that land an enlisted person in a court martial and jail. It’s really a travesty.

  4. It’s clear Karpinski wasn’t running an elite unit. They didn’t get first pick of supplies — the soldiers had bugs in their MREs, and the food they fed prisoners was buggy too, which was the complaint that led to at least one of the prison riots. Low morale all round.

    Clearly if Karpinski had been a better officer she would have found ways to fix the problems. She’d have gotten her troops good food and run regular inspections to find problems and fix them. She might have organised a system for women to go to the latrine in armed pairs, or allowed them chamber pots etc — if she knew about the problem at the time.

    If she’d been on top of the interrogation problem she could have thrown her weight around to the point she got signed orders, which would have been a giant help at her court-martial. But other officers reported that she was depressed and spent a lot of time alone doing nothing. Not to defend her, but if she’d been given a clear communication from higher-ups that they didn’t want to be annoyed by reports from her about problems she couldn’t solve herself and she’d get no support in anything she did, that might result in some low morale on her part. If there were only so many MREs available and some of them were buggy, somebody was going to get the bad ones. A Reserve unit guarding prisoners…. If Karpinski had been all that good she would have gotten some other assignment.

    Here’s a quick background with some opinions. Most of the factoids came from the Tagubi report. I hope the opinions are obviously opinion.

    When we went into iraq we had a critical shortage of arabic-speakers. This is not a surprise, if we trained sufficient soldiers in all the languages we might need they wouldn’t have time to do much else, and getting taught one language in depth takes a significant part of their enlistment. So we hired contractors to provide translators. Titan was one of those contractors. In theory they were supposed to hire american citizens with security clearances. Needless to say there was a shortage of those too, and to fill the critical need for translators they supplied what they could find. We wound up with some egyptian and some israeli contract translators, I don’t know how many but it could have been a significant number.

    Contract employees were not subject to UCMJ, and of course they weren’t subject to iraqi law, and they weren’t particularly liable in the USA for what they did in iraq. They were above the law. If they annoyed the military too much somebody might send a report to the contractor who would pull them from iraq. This was a punishment as they were making a whole lot of money. And a contractor who brought in too many guys who didn’t fit in might eventually have his contract pulled. But there wasn’t a lot of penalty for misbehavior. If a couple of contractors in a white SUV decided to grab an iraqi woman off the street and rape her, chances are nobody who could punish them would ever hear about it. Except iraqis might shoot at them or at some other white SUV.

    So, the order came down that it was OK to do strenuous interrogation. The MI guys were doing it all over. And they got the bright idea to use regular prison guards to keep the prisoners awake all the time the interrogators were asleep between the clean white sheets. And the chain of command was so weak in this one location that the MPs didn’t think about who they were responsible to or even who should be informed. They just did it, and expanded on it. Looking back, it’s clear that keeping prisoners naked or in women’s underwear was a standard technique. Putting them in stress positions and kicking them back into position when they collapsed was standard. Threatening them with dogs was standard. Waterboarding was standard. Sleep deprivation was standard. Attacking electrodes to their genitals may have been standard. Having women insult and embarrass naked prisoners was standard. What was not standard about the photographs was smearing prisoners in excrement, handcuffing them into pyramids, and having sex in front of blindfolded naked prisoners. Also taking photographs that reach the public. I don’t see any particular reason to believe that the intelligence guys asked for photos. Though if they did, they could easily get their copies and leave copies with the idiots they asked for them from.

    Lots of people didn’t see anything wrong with the photos. At least one guy on base used them for his screensaver. Somebody sent them home to relatives, which was how the media got them. The immediate result of publication was the general order to get rid of cellphones on base in iraq. Some liberals took this as admission of guilt. But it wasn’t. Imagine you’re the guy who gave that order. You haven’t paid a lot of attention to the Taguba report because it isn’t your responsibility. But then there’s a media scandal and you find out that any private with a cellphone can send whatever he wants to the media or to anybody else, including photos of classified documents, leaving no record that he did it. Of course you should have thought of that, but it hadn’t been a problem before. You aren’t going to interfere in the Abu Ghraib investigation — it will go at its own speed and there’s no good excuse to poke at it. But stopping the ridiculously-easy espionage? No-brainer.

    So, scandal. Was there an israeli translator/interrogator among the Titan contract employees? Various people said there was. How would that look to the public? Israeli torture expert “helping out” the americans? Israeli government getting reports? Lots of people would believe the worst. And we *did* have some sort of cooperation going with the israeli government, and the details have stayed mostly secret. If there was an israeli on the team he disappeared. Some dim bulb in the media decided that contractor “John Israel” might be his AKA, but after they looked for John Israel eventually an american John Israel showed up who could have been the right one. I figure there probably was an israeli on the team, and it got covered up because of the uproar it would cause. And he might easily have been just a garden-variety translator who happened to be israeli.

    Karpinski wasn’t a great general. Despite her failings she might have been allowed to retire with general’s rank except she got caught up in this scandal. Why wasn’t there an investigation of the intelligence guys who were a lot closer involved in the scandal than she was? Because Rumsfeld etc don’t want the policy examined. They want a scapegoat. Meanwhile Karpinski has had plenty of time to pay attention to the various rumors etc that she was too depressed to notice when she was on duty.

  5. If I asked an Arab if he was an Arab, what are the chances he’d think I was so incredibly stupid (particularly since I’m a girl) that he’d answer “I’m an Israeli.”

    If I was an Israeli in Iraq secretly what are the chances that, when asked if I were Arab I’d say anything other than “yes”?

    Even to a BG?

  6. Thomas, it’s good to try to be fair but from the POV of someone who depends on their command, it’s just not “Okay” to fail your people like that and it’s even *less* okay to refuse to take responsibility.

    And if she’d done that most people would be saying “darn, what bad luck for her, life in the military can be so unfair.” But instead she claims that her ignorance, rather than condemning her, actually excuses her. People depended on her because they had no choice given them. If defending them isn’t more important to her than defending herself, she deserves far more than scorn.

    And she didn’t try to solve the “night-time latrine trips” problem… I don’t think she had any knowledge of that, either. So I guess that’s not her problem either. Like nothing was her problem. I guess it’s okay for a BG to be completely incompetent. The harm done to women in the service by Karpinski is incredible… far far more harm than mythical “death by dehydration.” (There haven’t been that many female soldiers who have died and we know how they died.) Praise God for Sgt Hester and other Soldiers who provide a model for female servicemembers that doesn’t include pouting and stomping one’s foot.

  7. She wasn’t ignorant of what was going on. Her story, as I understand it, is that everything was hunky dory until the bad guys came over from Gitmo and began abusing everybody:

    bq. COL. JANIS KARPINSKI: . . . General Miller said — his first observation was that they were not — they were being too nice to them. They were not being aggressive enough. And he used the example at Guantanamo Bay that the prisoners there, when they’re brought in, that they’re handled by two military policemen. They’re escorted everywhere they go — belly chains, leg irons, hand irons — and he said, “You have to treat them like dogs.”

    bq. AMY GOODMAN: You were there when he said this?

    bq. COL. JANIS KARPINSKI: Yes, I was there when he said that. And he said, “They have to know that you are in charge, and if you treat them too nicely, they won’t cooperate with you. And at Guantanamo Bay, they earn — the prisoners earn every single thing they get, to include a change of color of their jumpsuits. When they get there, they’re issued a bright orange jumpsuit. They’re handled in a very aggressive, forceful manner, and they earn the privilege of transitioning to a white jumpsuit, if they prove themselves to be cooperative.”

    bq. And I raised my hand. I was just there as a guest. I was not a participant, but I said, “You know, sir, the M.P.s here don’t move prisoners with leg irons and hand irons. We don’t even have that equipment. We don’t have enough funding to buy one jumpsuit per prisoner, let alone an exchange of colors.” And he said, “It’s no problem. My budget is $125 million a year at Gitmo, and I’m going to give Colonel Pappas all of the resources he needs to do this appropriately.”

    “Democracy Now Interview”:

    Her response to the plan to treat them like dogs is to complain that they didn’t have the equipment. She knew what was happening or about to happen, but hid behind the bureaucratic line between military intelligence and military police.

    She could have and should have protected her men and women.

  8. AL – excellent post. I like the fact that you aren’t jumping to any conclusions.

    “But absence of evidence is not evidence of absence…”

    You’re quite right, as hard as that is to accept when you really want to believe something one way or the other.

    I don’t like her story and the fact that Blackfive considers her a disgrace to her uniform, weighs heavily against her. Once a person starts to lie to protect themselves, they will go to any length to keep the lie going. Even to convincing themselves that the lie is the truth.

    The fact that she wants to lay all the blame elsewhere and take none of it on herself is a huge red flag – just calling me to believe that everything she says is twisted. How did this woman ever get to the rank of BG? It’s amazing because she can’t have become this incompetent over night.

  9. My BS meter went off scale when I found out that Granier (sp) and Frederick were currently, or had been, employed as corrections officers in civilian life. They, based on their civilian employment history, without any additional or special training, should know to kick such orders up the chain of command. And then if the orders still stood, get them in writing.
    See Wikipedia (or Google name & correction officer if you don’t trust the W)
    Not sure on proper spelling of Granier.

  10. I wish you could follow up on the female soldiers dying from lack of fluids. Also on the death records of those in US custody — I’d guess there’s a site.

    Yes, there is. I’ve been on it and I’ll see if I can dredge up the URL.

    The records for the time in question don’t support the claims. IMO that leads to one of two conclusions: either the claims are false or there’s an extremely broad conspiracy from which no one has defected yet.

  11. She rather specifically claimed she saw “dehydration” as cause of death on a certificate.

    Details here. This really should establish credibility, or lack thereof.

  12. “My BS meter went off scale when I found out that Granier (sp) and Frederick were currently, or had been, employed as corrections officers in civilian life.”

    That is the key to the whole thing: they saw nothing wrong with treating Iraqis like they treated normal civilian prisoners in prisons back in the US.

    The really ugly way this can blow back is when, and I say when and not if, the ACLU convinces one of the clowns of the 9th Circus that guard-on-prisoner and prisoner-on-prisoner violence makes imprisonment Cruel and Unusual, so all 160,000 of them has to be set free…

    Ursus Maritimus

  13. If it is such a key to Karpinski’s character that she take responsibility for what went on under her commend, why does that responsibility stop with her? Why aren’t her commanding officers, up to and including Rumsfeld, also required to take responsibility? They seem to have been quite successful at using the “I didn’t know what was going on” excuse.

  14. I don’t agree with the conculsion that Karpinski didn’t know what was going on.

    Chris, do you think Karpinski didn’t know what was going on?

  15. I share Blackfive’s opinion of Karpinski and how she dealt with what was surely a bad situation made worse by extreme failures of leadership. (Hers, among others.)

    I remember well when news of AG broke, and to say reports infuriated me would be grand understatement. Granier, England and the rest of their bestial cohorts did more to undermine possible International support for our liberation of Iraq than any other single set of behaviors. We can argue all day long about what AG signifies and what it doesn’t, but the fact remains.

    If our enemies wanted to create the most salacious, repugnant, and hate-inspiring propaganda against US forces, they could never have done better than the miscreants at Abu Ghraib.

    ( More “here.”: )

  16. In case anyone overlooked the tag, Dadmanly has a good piece up which includes some of his own “reporting” from Iraq.

  17. The whole issue of the dehydration thing is absolutely ridiculous and implies a level of stupidity on the part of female soldiers that is absolutely insulting. I used to be in the military and have spent some limited time in exercises, etc in tent-living situations. Even supposing that everything she says is true about women being preyed on and not being able to visit the latrine in the dark, it makes no sense that those women would then lie in the their beds dying of dehydration and not do anything about it! They could get a bottle of water during the day and take a few sips out of it at night if they wake up parched, for goodness sakes. Most folks there also have other people living in their tents/boxes who they could tap on the shoulder and say…I’m really thirsty have you got any water? Or at least – I don’t feel good, take me to the medics where they could be given an IV! People just don’t die of dehydration in an instant. It just doesn’t pass the common sense test. If someone died of dehydration it would likely happen while on a mission or just after returning from a day in the incredibly heat and strenuous environment. Why Karpinski is harping on this I don’t know, expect perhaps to bolster an impression she is trying to make that the military leadership doesn’t like women.
    As to the issue of Abu Ghraib, there are fair arguments to made that other leadership figures should have been or should still be (and I think there are still more prosecutions coming) held responsible. But all the reports, like the one cited, coming out of the investigations of Abu Ghraib indicate a prison where military discipline was severely degraded, where oversight was minimal, and where training was severely lacking…All of these issues ultimately go back to the person in charge: Karpinski and the kind of environment created was such that a creep like Graner (sp) could get away with his disgusting sadistic actions and influence others around him. Karpinski deserved everything she got – as a former female officer I am disgusted both by her lack of accountability and by her attempts now to spread rumors and lies that unfairly paint the rest of the military that was her bread and butter for so many years in a bad light. She is not a good leader, she was not a good manager, and now she proves that she is also not an individual of any integrity.

  18. First of all, the wikepedia link is full of errors, so for someone to quote that link is lazy and stupid….

    General K. changes her story like the weather changes except for one thing, she is always the innocent victim.

    For those of you arm-chair qb’s who dont know a thing about being in a war-zone and following orders,the rules changed after 9/11 on how to deal with detainees according as per the admin., not the ever-growing list of rogue soldiers from AG. These things were approved first at G-Bay and brought to AG ala Gen. Miller and now that trail is stuck in classified land.

    Gen. K said that the detainees were originally innocent. May have been true, but not in Nov-Jan. AG was the reason for Saddam’s capture. AG had high value detainees, Al-Qaeda, etc.. Once again, she is talking when she doesnt know what she is talking about.

    And for those quoting the Taguba report, that is the Army’s investigation of itself to make this a rogue soldier problem. Ask your self in the 15-6 of G-Bay, why did Gen. Schmidt not investigate the migration of tactics to AG, in the report he said he could have easily, but that wasnt his lane. Why the f not?? B/c there has never been one single general officer go to prison and the good ol’ boy system will not start today.
    i found the counseling statement of Graner here(shows his company commander and MI colonel knew and approved, and gasp, at his trial they invoked their article 31 rights)

  19. Look. This is a no-brainer.

    Somebody is responsible for all operations at that faciliy. For something like that, it’s probably an O-5 or O-6

    That’s as high as repsonsibility goes. Above that, you are talking malfeasance of _strategic_ issues, not what some E-2 took pictures of somewhere.

    The General should have lost her star for what happened if it happened on her watch. It doesn’t matter about the stories of mysterious visitors — she’s still responsible. That’s what that star means.

    As far as her recent behavior, she should be stripped of all rank and court-martialed for refusing to respect the oath she took. Ducking responsibility and slinging mud to deride the armed forces after your separation are the most severe violation of your oath that you can imagine. That’s worse than the thing she was guilty of. I’m in favor of no rank, no retirement, no nothing. She can take her bad attitude to McDonalds and see how far disloyalty takes her in the corporate world.

    Having said that, she was probably an unqualified person put in a position with conflicting loyalties that was beyond her capability to deal with. Tough luck. But that doesn’t change the responsibilities involved. Life’s tough, kid. Somebody should have told her that when she got one of those promotions.

  20. You can make lots of arguements about Abu Ghraib, but once she started spouting these crazy dehydration stories….she jumped the shark. Now it doesn’t matter who did what. Karpinski has lost all credibility. Civilians can wonder about chain of command and think about X-Files like conspiracies. But everyone knows that if you stop drinking fluids you can not just die a peaceful death in 12 hours. Please!!! As a result, even if she had anything to add……….it’s too late, she has lost all credibility. There is nothing she can say that I want to hear.

  21. #5 from Synova on May 16, 2006 04:27 PM

    If I asked an Arab if he was an Arab, what are the chances he’d think I was so incredibly stupid (particularly since I’m a girl) that he’d answer “I’m an Israeli.”

    f I was an Israeli in Iraq secretly what are the chances that, when asked if I were Arab I’d say anything other than “yes”?

    Even to a BG?

    The chances are zero in seven billion.

  22. Karpinski, and people like her, are a direct result of a promotion system that promotes individuals for traits such as race or gender, regardless of, and at the expense of performance.

    By the way, paragraph 33 of the IG report is classified SECRET/NOFORN. Unless it’s been declassified, you really should remove it. If it has been declass’ed, redact the S/NF header.

  23. On the subject of Karpinski’s rank, isn’t it obvious that a general who is busted down to a colonel for disciplinary reasons is no longer entitled to be called “general”?

  24. If I was an Israeli in Iraq secretly what are the chances that, when asked if I were Arab I’d say anything other than “yes”?


    Israelis on US bases in iraq could expect vastly better treatment than arabs. Israelis wouldn’t nearly so likely be considered security threats.

    Say it’s an israeli who just happens to be working for a US military contractor, who isn’t particularly secret at all. Then 95%. Why would he lie?

  25. Having said that, she was probably an unqualified person put in a position with conflicting loyalties that was beyond her capability to deal with. Tough luck.

    Agreed. In th very best case I can imagine, where her superiors didn’t allow her to make the changes needed (and didn’t allow her to get the supplies needed), she had a responsibility to resign rather than preside over the failure of her command.

    Since she didn’t resign, it was the responsibility of her superior officer to notice her failure and deal with it. This eventually happened. Did it happen soon enough? I’m not in a position to judge that. I don’t know any of the relevant details. The Taguba report covers various problems that she didn’t deal with. It doesn’t say anything about the next level up from her. Maybe for all her faults there was no one available who looked like they’d do better.

  26. She should lose all rank and be discharged at the very least. Prison time for neglect of the Soldiers in her charge should have been given. If she didn’t know–she should have. She is a disgrace to all of our brave Soldiers, both male and female. Especially female! I seriously doubt that female Soldiers couldn’t figure out that they had to have water and how to safely take care of bathroom needs. Get real. Have you ever been to a dance, etc. and seen a lone woman go to the bathroom???? For the most part, even in safe environments, we go potty in groups!!

    If you can’t run with the big dawgs, stay on the porch. She must have come up in rank as a “token female”. I hope that there aren’t more like her.
    Desi – a proud Army mom

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