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Only in America

Brigadier General Janis Karpinski has been reduced in rank to full colonel for her part in the Abu Ghraib scandal. And shoplifting. Read more...

I so need an "only in America" icon.


( 4 comments — Leave a comment )
7th May, 2005 19:58 (UTC)
vultureThe Washington Post puts it this way:
Karpinski's rank was reduced to colonel, and she was issued a reprimand and relieved of her command. But the Army's inspector general recommended the sanctions based on a broad charge of dereliction of duty, as well as on a charge of shoplifting, essentially clearing her of responsibility for the abuse at Abu Ghraib prison. [emphasis added]

-- General Demoted, but Cleared in Abuse Probe, Josh White, Washington Post via truthout, Friday 06 May 2005
And the Army's problem with that "charge of shoplifting," I'm given to understand, is not that she shoplifted but that when she got busted for shoplifting, apparently before her promotion to BG, she failed to properly notify the Army.
8th May, 2005 04:18 (UTC)
I would not have used the wording you emphasised because while she might not be legally responsible, she is certainly responsible in the military sense. Hence, dereliction of duty, based on the fact that she knew or should have known.

Possible cultural difference: in the Australian Army you can be punished by the Army for offences for which you have already been punished by the civil authorities.
8th May, 2005 14:37 (UTC)
... dereliction of duty, based on the fact that she knew or should have known.

I think the distinction the article is drawing, is between "She caused those abuses" (which, it seems, the military didn't prove nor, probably, even intend to prove) -- and "If she'd been properly diligent she might have prevented some of them," leading to the "dereliction of duty" charge.

The opposition, in the US and elsewhere, is arguing that many high-ranking people from the White House on down (Bush, Gonzales, Rumsfeld, Sanchez...) contributed to the ethical climate in which those abuses could arise, but that only a few low-ranking "bad apples" would end up formally paying the price. So far, that's how it seems to be turning out.

I think it was around July of 2003 that the UK questioned US confinement of a handful of their subjects in Guantanamo without charges or trial. Bush confidently assured them that only "very bad people" were held there. How Bush could know that (especially when it later turned out to be untrue) wasn't discussed. Abu Ghraib seems to have been operated under similar assumptions by some of the same authorities. The biggest "reform" I've read about, is that the taking of unauthorized photographs is now strictly forbidden.
8th May, 2005 16:16 (UTC)
We can do better than that. When the scandal erupted, the Prime Miniser was asked whether the government had any knowledge of conditions in Abu Ghraib. He replied that it had not. The Department of Defence issued a statement that no Defence personnel had knowledge before January 2004. Seemed reasonable. I mean, why should we?

Then it turns out that a Major George O'Kane, spent six months up until February 2004 in the US military headquarters in Baghdad, working in the office of the senior US legal officer in Iraq, and was closely involved in the American legal assessment of the allegations of torture and illegal interrogation techniques.

O'Kane received two Red Cross reports on conditions inside Iraqi prisons, issued in October and November 2003, was responsible for investigating many of the complaints, and visited Abu Ghraib prison on at least five occasions between August 2003 and January 2004.

He worked with the American military legal authorities and drafted the official reply to the Red Cross reports, arguing that a number of Geneva Conventions did not apply to prisoners who allegedly posed a serious security risk. The letter went on to threaten the Red Cross that its unannounced prison inspections might be blocked in the future and was signed by Brigadier General Janis Karpinski.

In August 2003 Major O'Kane delivered lectures to American interrogators inside Abu Ghraib prison, advising them on the application of the Geneva Conventions. In January he gave further instructions on interrogation techniques, this time to US prison guards. He warned the guards to prepare for a Red Cross inspection that he subsequently accompanied.

The Australian official had an intimate knowledge of virtually every aspect of the allegations and investigations of torture. According to the Sydney Morning Herald, Major O'Kane learned of the existence of the photographs of torture inside Abu Ghraib prison in late 2003 and was aware of General Antoio Taguba's internal report, which confirmed that the Geneva Conventions had been seriously breached.

A number of other Australian officers, some of significantly higher rank than Major O'Kane, also worked alongside the US authorities. The defence department admitted that at least six other Australian military lawyers visited Abu Ghraib prison on a number of occasions. Colonel Mike Kelly liaised with the Red Cross and went to Abu Ghraib seven times.

The Prime Minister then claimed that the government had been misled by those dastardly public servants and military officers, all of whom they still had complete confidence in. This being the third major scandal that the government has used this excuse on, we're starting to get a little used to it. 'Course, it's all blown over now...
( 4 comments — Leave a comment )