WP - Army Demotes General in Abu Ghraib Scandal
"the former commanding general at Abu G. was demoted to colonel this week."
Army Demotes General in Abu Ghraib Scandal
By ROBERT BURNS
The Associated Press
Friday, May 6, 2005; 2:15 AM
WASHINGTON -- The Army has offered its last word on holding its generals accountable in the Abu Ghraib prisoner abuse scandal, but Congress is going to have the final say.
The Army announced that it demoted Brig. Gen. Janis Karpinski, whose Army Reserve unit was in charge of the prison compound during the period of abuse. Dropping her in rank to colonel required approval from President Bush, and officials said that he granted it on Thursday.
While this slap-on-the-wrist is a career-ender for the reserve officer, can anyone honestly imagine she would have been given another command or another promotion after all this? She can go back to her civilian career and trouble-no-more any soldiers so unfortunate as to be under her command.
The Army also said it cleared three other, more senior generals of wrongdoing in the prisoner abuse cases, actions that had been previously reported but not publicly confirmed by the Army.
This is something that smacks of a coverup, in that the reserve general officer, a female, is the designated scapegoat, the fall guy, and none of the inner circle of "perfumed princes" has any blame attached to them. What seemed clear in much of the early reporting about the Abu Ghraib situation is how very unclear the lines of responsibility were and how the generals above Colonels Karpinski and Pappas muddied the waters; how an active duty colonel could be in charge of the reserve brigadier general's mission. While I fully believe Col. Karpinski to have been derelict in her responsibilities as brigade commander, I don't believe all the blame at her level attaches to her alone.
That means Karpinski is the only general to be disciplined thus far. The demotion means her career in the military, where officers must rise in rank or leave, is effectively over. Messages left at her home in Hilton Head, S.C., and with her attorney were not immediately returned.
Some in Congress have sharply criticized the Pentagon for failing to hold the more senior officers in Iraq accountable and instead pinning most of the blame on low-ranking soldiers like Pfc. Lynndie England. She pleaded guilty Monday to two counts of conspiracy to maltreat prisoners, four counts of maltreating prisoners and one count of committing an indecent act, many of which were captured in photographs that shocked the world when published a year ago. But the military judge rejected the plea agreement she had reached with prosecutors.
This development stemmed from a quirk in the military justice system where if the judge doesn't believe the defendent actually believes herself to be guilty, he may not accept a guilty plea therefrom. One can imagine situations where this is a necessary protection for some defendants, and it may indeed be an appropriate protection to apply to this defendent.
The Senate Armed Services Committee has said it intends to hold hearings soon to assess whether senior Defense Department civilian and military leaders were adequately held accountable for Abu Ghraib.
The Army described its investigations as exhaustive, requiring six months of work including sworn-statement interviews with 82 people, including L. Paul Bremer, who was the top civilian authority in Iraq at the time, and Gen. John Abizaid, the commander of U.S. forces in the Middle East.
Among those cleared by the Army was Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez, who was the top Army general in Iraq at the time of the prisoner abuses. He has been faulted by some for leadership failures but has never been accused of ordering or sanctioning any abuse of prisoners.
The Army said it could not substantiate two allegations against Sanchez: dereliction in the performance of duties pertaining to detention and interrogation operations and improperly communicating interrogation policies.
Sanchez is currently the commander of 5th Corps, headquartered at Heidelberg, Germany.
In addition to being demoted, Karpinski received a written reprimand and was formally relieved of command of the 800th Military Police Brigade on April 8, the Army said in a statement.
That's been a truly stunning inaction, that Col. Karpinski remained brigade commander for all this time after the deployment.
The Army's inspector general investigated four allegations against Karpinski: dereliction of duty, making a "material misrepresentation" to investigators, failure to obey a lawful order and shoplifting. Only the shoplifting and dereliction of duty allegations were substantiated.
Neal A. Puckett, Karpinski's attorney, told The Washington Post that the Army is saying "she's the only senior leader that had any part in this, but they're saying she didn't have a direct part in it." The Army is severing the chain of command "right at her eyeball level, and not letting it go higher," Puckett told the newspaper.
The Army did not explain the specifics of the allegations, but a number of previous investigations of the Abu Ghraib prisoner abuses have accused Karpinski of failing to maintain order and prevent the abuses. She has said publicly that she was not given full authority over Abu Ghraib and that when photographs of the abuse became public she was made a scapegoat.
Karpinski may not be wrong about that, that she wasn't given full authority over Abu Ghraib and that she is being made into a scapegoat. But that doesn't mean she wasn't derelict in her duties and doesnt deserve these penalties.
A U.S. government official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said Karpinski was accused of shoplifting a cosmetic item from a shop at a domestic Air Force base while she held the rank of colonel. Karpinski did not report her arrest for this misdemeanor on a later background check, the official said. In an interview with CBS News last year, Karpinski denied shoplifting.
So Col. Karpinski was accused of shoplifting. That means precisely that. She was accused. Perhaps she didn't really shoplift. But what she also didn't do was report the arrest, which was a reasonably clear deception by ommission.
Perhaps there was nothing to the accusation; after all, apparently she wasn't convicted, there seems to have been some other resolution to the legal situation; if so, then she might very well have received that first set of brigadier general's stars, but then again, perhaps not; thus the temptation to "self-adjudicate" and refrain from mentioning the arrest.
Unfortunately, to omit such an arrest means that she made material misrepresentations in at least two or three places on her statement of personal history. That lack of integrity is precisely why she should never have been promoted to brigadier general.
The generals who were cleared, in addition to Sanchez, were Maj. Gen. Walter Wojdakowski, who was Sanchez's deputy in Iraq at the time, and Sanchez's intelligence chief, Maj. Gen. Barbara Fast. Both were accused of dereliction of duty, but the allegations were not substantiated.
Without providing their names, the Army also said Thursday that one colonel and two lieutenant colonels linked to detainee abuses in Iraq and Afghanistan were given unspecified administrative punishment. Also, two other lieutenant colonels were given letters of reprimand.
More than a dozen other lower-ranking officers, whose names were not released, also received various punishments.
_ Three majors were given letters of reprimand and one of the three also was given an unspecified administrative punishment.
_ Three captains were court-martialed, one captain was given an other-than-honorable discharge from the Army, five captains received letters of reprimand, and one was given an unspecified administrative punishment.
_ Two first lieutenants were court-martialed, another got a letter of reprimand and one was given administrative punishment.
_ One second lieutenant was given an other-than-honorable discharge and another was given a letter of reprimand.
_ Two chief warrant officers were court-martialed.
The Army said other cases involving officers linked to detainee abuse are still open, but it did not say how many.