Five years ago, revelations of the torture of prisoners in Iraq at Abu Ghraib prison resulted in the prosecution of low-ranking members of a military police unit headed by then-Brigadier General Janis Karpinski,who was demoted to colonel for not having prevented  abuse of detainees, despite evidence that such “extraordinary measures”  had been sanctioned by commanders in Washington.

This week, when President Obama ordered the release of information about Bush administration policies on “enhanced interrogation”  and a new Senate report outlined the history of the development those policies, both CBS’s Early Show and Countdown with Keith Olbermann  turned to Karpinski for comment.

Karpinski told Howard K. Smith that she felt the report put her troops’ actions in context. “Scapegoated is the perfect word,and it’s an understatement,” said Karpinski, who has spoken freely in recent years about being a high-ranking woman and also the only general held to account after Abu Ghraib.

Col. Janis Karpinski said Tuesday that “from the beginning, I’ve been saying these soldiers did not design these techniques on their own.” She added that this week’s Senate report is “black and white proof” that uniformed servicemen and women were not alone responsible for the abuses.

Many of the procedures were adopted Iraq-wide in a memo issued in September 2003 by the Iraq war commander, Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez.  According to the Senate report, lawyers for U.S. Central Command raised immediate concerns that the policy violated the Geneva Conventions, which applied to Iraq.  It would be a month before the policy was brought back under Geneva Convention guidelines. Despite the revision, the abuses at Abu Ghraib had already began.

Join the conversation

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

  • Melissa April 22, 2009 at 11:31 pm

    I just saw Gen. Karpinski being interviewed by Keith Olberman on MSNBC. She was great. Hopefully the media and powers that be will listen to her now, five years late.

    Reply