'Intelligent discontent is the mainspring of civilization.' -- Eugene V. Debs

Friday, March 11, 2005

Abu Ghraib Stories in 2005 

The ACLU obtained via FOIA requests the transcript of an interview with Brig Gen Janis Karpinski in which she discusses the interment of children at Abu Ghraib. If you are a reader of leftwing blogs like this one this information should not come as a shock to you (see here and here, for example) but because of the ACLU's work the mainstream media has finally focused on the issue, ironically almost exactly a year after the story broke. Here's the AP's piece, for example.

The ACLU has made the new documents publicly available as PDF's. Here's the Karpinksi interview, but unfortunately the above only seems to be the second half of Karpinski's deposition and doesn't include her comments regarding children (as far as I can tell).

It does contain, however, an interesting exchange in which Karpinski is asked directly who she blames for the abuses at Abu Ghraib. Her answer is that she blames pressure from above:

Q In your opinion, based on everything that you knew from the beginning of when you were there to the things that you have learned since, what is your current opinion regarding what happened at Abu Ghraib? What broke down? Who were the responsible parties at Abu Ghraib?

[ ... ]

A. Sir, I think there was a tremendous -- I know, not think -- this is fact. I know there was a tremendous pressure being placed on the interrogation teams and on Colonel Pappas, especially, to get more sooner, to find Saddam, to -- I mean, amongst all of those pressures there was never any pressure exerted to my knowledge, to release prisoners But, to get more sooner, and the real focus was finding Saddam. [ ...]

Q. Did He [Pappas] tell you from whom that pressure was coming?

A. He said that General [Barbara] Fast was pressuring him.

Q. Anybody else?

A. He didn't say specifically, but he did get beat up routinely by General Sanchez.

If you followed the news accounts of the court martials you may recall Fast's name. Here's the The Arizona Republic:

"The commanders condoned the actions and nobody ever condemned it."

Bergrin claimed that among the commanders who knew what was going on at the Iraqi prison or helped make it possible were Maj. Gen. Barbara Fast, a former deputy commander of Huachuca whose appointment to command the fort has been on hold for five months because of the Abu Ghraib scandal, and Col. Thomas Pappas, who was stationed at Huachuca until 2002 and commanded an intelligence brigade at Abu Ghraib.

"General Fast was putting pressure on Pappas, who was putting pressure down the line to break the detainees and get as much information any way possible," Bergrin said.

"Everyone knows that. I can't believe General Fast is still in the military."

Fast, one of the few women in the Army to reach the rank of two-star general, was chief of intelligence in Iraq at the time of Abu Ghraib. She has refused to talk to the media but has never been accused of wrongdoing in any of several military investigations into the abuse.

The PDF also contains a lot of information regarding General Miller's trip to Iraq to "GITMOize" Abu Ghraib. At one point Karpinski recounts Miller advocating treating the prisoners "like dogs":

And another interrogator asked him about the -- I don't remember the exact question, but it was something about maintaining control. And it might have been the subsequent question to my comment that in Guantanamo Bay they [have] 800 MPs to 640 prisoners, and I had -- at Abu Ghraib, I had 300 Mps to guard more that 7,000 prisoners. Then he said, "You have to have full control, and the MPs at Guantanmo Bay know what -- they know what that means. A detainee never leaves the cell if he's not escorted by two MPs in leg irons, and hand irons, and a belly chain. And there was no mistake about who's in charge. And you have to treat these detainees like dogs. If you treat them any differnently and they get the idea that they're making a decision or they're in charge, you've lost control of your interrogation.

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