Archive for Sunday, September 5, 2004

General says ‘conspiracy’ blamed her for Abu Ghraib

September 5, 2004

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— The Army general who once ran detention operations in Iraq said a "conspiracy" among top U.S. commanders had left her to blame for the abuses of Iraqi inmates at Abu Ghraib prison.

Brig. Gen. Janis Karpinski, who commanded the Army's 800th Military Police Brigade, said she feared more senior Army generals might escape punishment, even though they issued or approved guidelines on the interrogation of Iraqi prisoners.

Karpinski said in an e-mail interview with The Associated Press that she was unfairly cited by a report issued last month by an independent panel of nongovernment experts headed by former defense secretary James Schlesinger.

The Schlesinger report blamed Karpinski for leadership failures that "helped set the conditions at the prison which led to the abuses." She failed to ensure that Iraqi prisoners were protected by the Geneva Conventions and failed to deal with ineffective commanders below her. It recommended that she be relieved of command and given a letter of reprimand, which would essentially end her career.

The panel also said disciplinary action "may be forthcoming" against Col. Thomas M. Pappas, commander of the Army's 205th Military Intelligence Brigade, which was assigned to Abu Ghraib last year.

That recommendation may allow top generals in Iraq to sidestep punishment, Karpinski said.

Those she said might avoid sharing responsibility are Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez, the former land forces commander in Iraq; his deputy, Maj. Gen. Walter Wojdakowski; Maj. Gen. Barbara Fast, the former head of military intelligence here; and Maj. Gen. Geoffrey Miller, deputy commander for detention operations in Iraq.

"It was a conspiracy all along," Karpinski said. "Sanchez and Miller and likely Fast had fallback plans and people to blame if anything came unglued."

Fast, Wojdakowski, Sanchez, as well as Karpinski are criticized in the Schlesinger report and a subsequent Army investigation led by Maj. Gen. George Fay.

Karpinski had denied knowing about any mistreatment of prisoners until photographs were made public at the end of April showing hooded and naked prisoners being tormented by their U.S. captors.

The Senate Armed Services Committee has scheduled a hearing for Thursday to consider the Fay and Schlesinger reports and likely raising questions about which, if any, senior military officials should share blame for what happened at Abu Ghraib.

Fast and Miller declined to comment on the report or Karpinski's allegations. Sanchez, Wojdakowski and Pappas could not be reached.

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