Janis Karpinski

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Janis Karpinski wearing her Brigadier General star before being demoted to Colonel
Janis L. Karpinski (born c. 1953) is a United States Army Colonel in the 800th Military Police Brigade. She was demoted by President Bush for her role in the Abu Ghraib prisoner abuse scandal.

She was the commander of three large US- and British-led prisons in Iraq in 2003, eight battalions, and 3400 Army reservists.



Karpinski was commissioned into the Army as a second lieutenant in 1977 and has served primarily in intelligence and military police assignments, including tours with the Special Forces and in Saudi Arabia during the first Gulf War. She moved from the regular Army to the Reserves in 1987. She also became a consultant who ran military-styled training programs for executives. She is married to George Karpinski, a lieutenant colonel at the Oman US embassy. She was awarded a Bronze Star.

In June 2003, during the U.S.-led occupation of Iraq, Karpinski was given command of the 800 Military Police Brigade. This put her in charge of the fifteen detention facilities in southern and central Iraq run by Coalition forces. She had no experience running correctional facilities. Karpinski was also given command of the National Guard and Army reserve units in the Iraqi city of Mosul, most of whom, like her, had no training in handling prisoners. But at least two of the guardsmen who were convicted of prisoner abuse had lengthy civilian experience as prison guards.

In September 2003, Karpinski led US Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld on a tour of the Abu Ghraib prison to demonstrate the way it had been used by Saddam Hussein to torture his enemies. Rumsfeld used the tour to point out how the country had improved since Hussein was overthrown.

This point that was overshadowed by the flood press attention given to the Abu Ghraib abuse scandal. Even the US and UK press adopted the slant that the US was "just as bad" as Saddam, utterly obliterating any distinction between (1) the relatively mild prisoner abuse for which Lynndie England and others under Karpinski's command were courtmartialed and (2) the torture and maiming for which Saddam and his henchman have yet to be called to account for.

On April 8, 2005 she was formally relieved of command of the 800th Military Police Brigade.

On May 5, 2005, President Bush approved Karpinski's demotion to colonel from the rank of brigadier general. Her demotion was not officially related to the abuse at Abu Ghraib prison. The allegations against her were for dereliction of duty, making a material misrepresentation to investigators, failure to obey a lawful order and shoplifting. Karpinski had failed to inform the Army as required when filling out an official document about an earlier arrest on an Air Force base in the US on a misdemeanour charge of stealing less than US$50 worth of cosmetics from a military store.

Allegations against Karpinski

In October 2003, allegations of torture in the new Iraqi prisons began to surface. Karpinski insisted that prisoners under her watch were treated "humanely and fairly". In an interview with the St. Petersburg Times in December 2003, Karpinski said conditions in the prison were even better than many Iraqi homes, and joked that the prisoners were treated so well that she was "concerned they wouldn't want to leave" [1] (http://www.sptimes.com/2003/12/14/Worldandnation/Her_job__Lock_up_Iraq.shtml).

However in January 2004, Lieutenant General Ricardo Sanchez formally suspended Karpinski and sixteen other soldiers with undisclosed reprimands. An investigation was started into the abuse, and Karpinski left Iraq for reasons that were explained at the time as part of "routine troop rotations".

In his final report, Major General Antonio Taguba blamed Karpinski for the abuse by not paying attention to the daily operations of the prison. According to Taguba, Karpinski rarely visited the prisons during her tenure, and she reviewed and signed reports about claims of abuse without following up to make sure her orders were carried out. As a consequence, the abuse was allowed to continue and her subordinates developed a lax attitude towards protocol.

In April 2004, CBS 60 Minutes II broadcast photographs of Iraqi prisoners being tortured and humiliated at Abu Ghraib. Following the broadcast, Karpinski was suspended of her duties and replaced by Major General Geoffrey Miller, the former commander of the detention camp known as Camp X-Ray at Guantanamo Bay.

Karpinski's defense

Karpinski insisted she had no knowledge of the abuse and claims the particular wing of the prison was under the control of military intelligence "twenty-four hours a day." She claims Army intelligence officers encouraged guards to torture prisoners as an aid to interrogation, and that she was a scapegoat.

A June 2004 BBC article said, "Gen Karpinski believes the soldiers had not taken the pictures of their own accord." It quotes her as saying:

"I know that the MP unit that these soldiers belonged to hadn't been in Abu Ghraib long enough to be so confident that one night or early morning they were going to take detainees out of their cells, pile them up and photograph themselves in various positions with these detainees." [2] (http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/americas/3806713.stm)

Since her suspension, Karpinski has made controversial accusations against her superiors in a series of interviews. In an interview with BBC Radio, Karpinski claimed that Major General Geoffrey Miller, who was sent from Camp X-Ray in Guantanamo Bay to improve interrogations at the Iraqi prison, told her to treat prisoners "like dogs" in the sense that "if you allow them to believe at any point that they are more than a dog then you've lost control of them" [3] (http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/americas/3806713.stm). Major General Miller denies that he ever made the remarks.

In another BBC interview, Karpinski made claims that she met an interrogator at Abu Ghraib who was from Israel. If true, it would support claims that the abuses at Abu Ghraib were based on alleged tactics used by Israeli interrogators. The Israeli government has emphatically denied sending interrogators to Abu Ghraib, and Israeli interrogators insist they have never abused Palestinian prisoners as shown in the photographs.

In an interview for her hometown newspaper, The Signal, Karpinski claims to have seen unreleased documents from Rumsfeld that authorized the use of dogs, food and sleep deprivation, and isolation for Iraqi prisoners that were also signed by General Sanchez. Both have denied authorizing such tactics.[4] (http://www.scvhistory.com/scvhistory/signal/iraq/sg070404.htm)


Abu Ghraib prisoner abuse
Top officials
President George W. Bush | Vice President Dick Cheney | Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld | Alberto Gonzales
Civilian contractors
Steven Stephanowicz | Joe Ryan
Defense Department officials and military officers
Deputy Undersecretary of Intelligence Stephen Cambone | Lieutenant General Ricardo Sanchez | Major General Barbara Fast
Major General Geoffrey Miller | Colonel Janis Karpinski | Colonel Thomas Pappas | Lieutenant General William Boykin
Enlisted soldiers
Sergeant Joseph Darby | Sergeant Javal Davis | Private First Class Lynndie England
Staff Sergeant Ivan Frederick | Specialist Charles Graner | Specialist Sabrina Harman | Jeremy Sivits

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