Janis Karpinski Tortures Lindsay Graham

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Col. (formerly Brigadier Gen.) Janis Karpinski, who was demoted after she presided over abuses at Abu Ghraib, attended a screening of an Iraq documentary paneled by Sen. Lindsay Graham. When audience comments began, Graham regretted that he never had a chance to court martial Karpinski. She stood up and called him a coward, and now writes about the incident in the Huffington Post.

I stand by my remarks about him being a coward. A coward condemns people in public ONLY when he believes there will be no opposition. What a pitiful example of a Senator. At one point, he was acknowledging the need for torture and told us we did not even want us to know what all of what they did to Khalid Shiek Mohammed because it was just so awful, but he assured us Khalid Sheik Mohammed provided "really great" information. Then, unbelievably, he tried desperately to assure us "most Americans think this is an unfortunate necessity in the global war on terrorism." Where is he taking the survey??

Other attendees were great afterwards and generously supportive. It is my experience American people are far more intelligent and perceptive than the likes of Senator Lindsey Graham gives them credit for being. They understood the movie and they are annoyed with the idiotic comments he made. More importantly, they are annoyed with him and the Administration he represents. When Ghosts of Abu Ghraib is broadcast across the country next week, I hope Americans are so annoyed and angry from watching the movie, it stimulates a renewal of demands for the truth and an independent commission to review the facts and render truthful conclusions.

Graham is like Chuck Hagel, if slightly more frustrating—a seasoned, smart Republican who criticizes the Bush administration's abuses before taking the dive with his colleagues.

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  1. If she’s still on active duty, that sort of thing could lead to a court-martial. Military folks aren’t allowed to publicly chastise the chain of command.

  2. It is my experience American people are far more intelligent and perceptive…

    Um, sorry, but she needs to get out a bit more.

    I hope Americans are so annoyed and angry from watching the movie, it stimulates a renewal of demands for the truth…

    Why would that happen? Does the movie claim that “American Idol” or “Deal or No Deal” are rigged?

    I don’t know what America Karpinski is living in, but sounds a lot better than this one.

  3. Karpinski should have been court-martialed. What happened at Abu Garhib had nothing to do with torture or ticking time bombs or KSM anything. What happened was a bunch of sadistic bastards, who were prison guards in civilian life (gee I wonder how often this stuff goes on in our own prisons?), on the night shift got bored and started torturing a bunch low level prisoners. It went on because Karpinski was an incompetent horrible commander who had no control over her prison. She and her command were completely derelict in their duties of command and oversight. She was the MP commander. She owned the prison. Yet, she exercised no oversight of it. How were England and company able to get together night after night and do what they did? They didn’t just do it once. They did it repeatedly and took pictures. Yet, Karpinski had no idea what was going on. She is a disgrace to the uniform and a disgrace to the country and deserved a lot more than demotion. Yet, she now gets to play victim and get a book deal out of it. Goes to show that if you are going to fuck up, fuck up big so you can hit the lecture circuit telling everyone how wronged you were.

    I frankly could not care less what she has to say about anything. Surely, Reason is not defending Karpinski. Graham may be a coward, but I would like to know why Kaprinski couldn’t get off her lazy worthless ass and see what the hell was goin on in her command and the prison she was responsible for running.

  4. If she’s still on active duty, that sort of thing could lead to a court-martial. Military folks aren’t allowed to publicly chastise the chain of command.

    A serious question: where are senators in the chain of command?

  5. #6:

    She’s already been demoted and publicly humiliated. I doubt she gives a shit about a court-martial, though she probably should.

    Based on what she’s said and written, she could potentially face a general court-martial for any number of charges, real or inflated (sedition, perhaps?), and could wind up spending much of the rest of her life at Ft. Leavenworth. She’d be a fucking hero there, but it’s still prison.

  6. Graham wants to court-martial Karpinski for allowing practices he approves of to take place on her watch.

    Um, O.K.

    “Ghosts of Abu Ghraib” is coming out just as Chris Dodd’s bill to undo the Torture Endorsement Act of 2006 gains a co-sponsor, Bob Menendez. This country isn’t as crazy as it was three years ago, and the pro-torture continegent doesn’t control Congress, so expect this to become a big issue.

  7. I don’t get it. Sounds like Karpinski and Graham were both in favor of torture before they were against it.

  8. Solitudinarian:

    They aren’t in the chain of command. There are prohibitions in the UCMJ, however, against criticizing sitting members of congress.

  9. Joe,

    Regardless of what you think of Graham, Karpinski is still a guilty party that basically got off scott free tying to claim victim status. She deserve no sympathy from anyone, regardless of who her critics are.

  10. “Graham is like Chuck Hagel, if slightly more frustrating – a seasoned, smart Republican who criticizes the Bush administration’s abuses before taking the dive with his colleagues.”

    What is that supposed to mean?

  11. Getting busted and publically reprimanded isn’t “scott free,” John.

    For the record, I posted one of the first comments when the Abu Ghraib story was first blogged here, and it was “Where the hell were the officers?”

  12. John,

    Well said. When the Abu Ghraib story first came out I remember thinking “Where were the officers in charge of the prison and why did they allow this stuff to happen?”. It’s up to them to make sure those kinds of things do not happen.

  13. Hey, lets face it….Lindsay Graham is the Clay Aiken of the senate!

  14. I dunno John, it almost sounds like Mr Weigel is holding Karpinski up as a good guy. In fact, that’s exactly what it sounds like.

    OTOH, maybe it’s just an example of one of those useful temporary alliances with the devil whose sole purpose is to make Republicans look bad. That’s not all that difficult so I question why one would take the side of a military administrator that you so eloquently describe as, at best, anjectly incompetent.

  15. John made two good points. As weaselly as Graham is, I don’t see how Karpinski gets to attack him when she was the one running the damn place. Second, it is disturbing to realize that several officers from Abu Ghraib were state prison guards in civilian life. Is that where they learned this stuff?

  16. Brock is exactly right. You won’t find Congresscritters in any chain of command chart, but the fact that the military is subject to civilian control means that any member of the House or Senate, or any high government official, is considered to be a superior. And the UCMJ does specifically forbid public criticism of civilian leadership.

  17. I wish they would show us the pictures and videos we, the public, haven’t yet gotten to see.

    I think the ongoing delay in disclosure is /was politically motivated, I think it sucks and I want to see those pictures.

  18. “Second, it is disturbing to realize that several officers from Abu Ghraib were state prison guards in civilian life. Is that where they learned this stuff?”

    Let’s keep in mind a couple of facts here.

    1. The techniques the hillybilly jailers used are right out of the “alternative interrogation techniques” that were widely used at Gitmo and Baghram. The sexual humiliation, the hooding, the nudity, the “stress positions.”

    2. These events began to take place at Abu Graib immediately after the general who had been running Gitmo (a Latino name that escapes me right now) was transfered to A.G. to, as an administration source put it, “Gitmo-ize” the place.

    It’s clear that these MPs were not doing their deeds on the orders of their superiors. It’s also pretty clear that the main insitigator, who was a Corrrections Officer, brought some sadistic baggage with him from back home. But it is blindingly clear that the inspiration for these crimes does not end there.

  19. If Rumsfeld’s and Gonzales’ interrogation policy changes mistakenly migrated to Abu Ghraib in the way described in the Schlesinger Report and elsewhere, then Karpinski should have blown the whistle. No question.

    …but not blowing the whistle, arguing for torture as official U.S. policy and implementing torture policies are not morally equivalent.

  20. Joe,

    The worst cases of prisoner abuse came out of Aghanistan. Really bad ones where innocent people were tortured to death and military juries slapped them on the wrist for it. Terrible stuff that makes me very angy. You just didn’t hear about them because there were no sexy pictures and media had no agenda to discredit the war in Afghanistan like they did with the war in Iraq.

  21. “It’s clear that these MPs were not doing their deeds on the orders of their superiors.”

    That is not true. They tried every way in the world to get England and company to rat out their superiors and they never did. England and the lead guy who got ten years could have saved themselves a lot of time in prison by pleading guilty and fingering high ups but they never did, because they couldn’t. It really was the case of a bunch of jerks on the night shift getting bored and crazy. Moreover, all of the people they tortured were low level nobodies. It is not like they were doing this to high level detainees. If they had been ordered to torture, they would have been ordered to torture someone who mattered.

  22. Article 88, of the UCMJ states:

    “Any commissioned officer who uses contemptuous words against the President, the Vice President, Congress, the Secretary of Defense, the Secretary of a military department, the Secretary of Transportation, or the Governor or legislature of any State, Territory, Commonwealth, or possession in which he is on duty or present shall be punished as a court-martial may direct.”

    I’ll leave it to others to determine if calling a jackass a ‘coward’ is contemptuous.

    Still, as much as I detest Graham and his opportunistic preening, Karpinksi is no less an opportunist.

    Nothing in the fallout of Abu Ghraib or in the making of a movie (that’s most likely NOT a balances investigation) absolves her of her miserable failure as a commander.

    The only thing I’ll say in her defense regarding fairness is that a lot of other officers and enlisted should have gotten slammed as well. It wasn’t fair to single her out.

  23. You just didn’t hear about them because there were no sexy pictures and media had no agenda to discredit the war in Afghanistan like they did with the war in Iraq.

    Discredit? Are you for real, dude??? We wouldn’t be in this mess of a war if the media didn’t play cheerleader for it since before day one.

    Sure, they want to distance themselves from the fiasco now that the vast majority is against it, but this war is as much their baby as it is Bush’s.

  24. Do I have the gist of the original thread right?

    Senator who had nothing to do with Abu Ghraib: Bad Guy.

    General overseeing the abuses at Abu Ghraib: Good guy.

  25. John,

    1. I think you’re right about AG getting more press than Baghram because of the pictures, but dead wrong about the media. The media was openly cheerleading for this war when those pictures came out.

    2. You missed the word “not” in my statement about “orders from superiors.” I said they were NOT doing these on orders from superiors.

  26. “Discredit? Are you for real, dude??? We wouldn’t be in this mess of a war if the media didn’t play cheerleader for it since before day one.”

    I guess that is why the real deaths in Bahgram got so much play and no one knows who Lindy England is.

  27. My mistake Joe.

  28. …but not blowing the whistle, arguing for torture as official U.S. policy and implementing torture policies are not morally equivalent.

    No, but arguing for torture as official U.S. policy while criticizing the people implementing torture policies IS awfully damn hypocritical.

    They may not be in the same circle of hell…but hell is still where they are.

  29. JF-Nope, you don’t.
    Gist of the thread: Different people with different points of view discussion several topics connected with the original post.

  30. I guess that is why the real deaths in Bahgram got so much play and no one knows who Lindy England is.

    There were photos of Lindy England, not of Bahgram. There were quite a few newspaper articles about Bahgram at the time — but you can’t expect the flakes on TeeVee to present actual news unless there are fancy things to be made into infographics.

  31. Without getting into who was at fault, the very fact that Americans were shocked by the photos and descriptions of what went on in Abu Ghraib illustrates that we’ve become so sheltered from the reality of war that we aren’t in much of position to judge anything about it.

    Meaning: of course conquering armies mistreat prisoners of war. Why is this a surprise to anybody?

  32. Dammit, madpad! Look what you did to our tubes!

    Mr. Fancy-font, quotation marks aren’t good enough for him…

    😉

  33. Let’s say Karpinski blew the whistle, in public, the first time she saw a CIA, DIA, or private contractor interrogator do to a prisoner, on orders, what the convicted MPs were doing on their spare time. In late 2003/early 2004.

    How do you think that would have gone down with the Johns of the world?

  34. jf

    I don’t think either party would be called a “good guy” here.

    Karpinski seems, at best, to have been derelict in her duty and quite possibly passively complicit in what went on.

    Graham first encouraged the environment which led to the failures of Abu Ghraib and then tries a cheap-shot CYA move to shift blame. I would call that cowardly.

    Thanks to madpad for the extract of Article 88 of the UCMJ. I don’t think truth is considered a defense. 😉

  35. Check out this quote from Karpinski, in her best Jack Nicholson:

    “He [Graham] is and always was, a JAG Officer — a lawyer, spending his military time in a plush office somewhere and never seeing harm’s way anywhere, but never hesitating to send Soldiers into harm’s way — ill equipped, ill informed and ill prepared to face hostile actions every hour of every day of their lives in Iraq and Afghanistan.”

    And that homo can’t handle the truth!

    Graham isn’t half the problem of a general who won’t walk around her own command post once in a while.

  36. I’d rather she tortured Linday Lohan.

  37. “Let’s say Karpinski blew the whistle, in public, the first time she saw a CIA, DIA, or private contractor interrogator do to a prisoner, on orders, what the convicted MPs were doing on their spare time. In late 2003/early 2004.”

    She didn’t need to go public. She ran the camp and was a general officer. The first time she saw that she could have just kicked their asses off of her camp and gone up the chain of command. Maybe they would have ignored her, but that would not have given the intelligence people access to her detainees. All she had to do was say, here are the guidlines of how you treat people here and if you don’t like it get out. There would have been nothing the DIA folks could of done about it, short of trying to get her relieved. If she had in fact then been releived for stopping torture and gone public about it, she would have gone down pretty well in my view. Of course that is not what happened.

  38. “The first time she saw that she could have just kicked their asses off of her camp and gone up the chain of command.”

    Unless, as we know, they were ordered to be there, and to carry out those “alternate interrogation techniques” by people above her on the chain of command. As we now know they were.

  39. Well put, Steven.

  40. “Unless, as we know, they were ordered to be there, and to carry out those “alternate interrogation techniques” by people above her on the chain of command. As we now know they were.”

    If such an order exists, Karpinski ought to be able to provide it. Of course that is now how it works. Of these intelligence types and especially the ones who got in trouble think they are secret squirrels and the cab driver they just named is KSM. They know that this shit is wrong and they will stop when confronted with adult supervision. This kind of crap did not happen in every camp. In only happened in places where there were commanders like Karpinski and gutless JAGs who didn’t bother to oversee their camps.

  41. “He [Graham] is and always was, a JAG Officer — a lawyer, spending his military time in a plush office somewhere and never seeing harm’s way anywhere, but never hesitating to send Soldiers into harm’s way — ill equipped, ill informed and ill prepared to face hostile actions every hour of every day of their lives in Iraq and Afghanistan.”

    I am not surprised that Karpinski hates lawyers. If she had bothered to talk to one, they might have told her to assume some responsibility and look around her camp once in a while. While not always true, there is a general corelation between military people who talk tough about “those damned lawyers” and how much dirty crap they are involved in. There are lots of stone cold killer commanders out there who wouldn’t go anywhere in this day and age without their lawyers and will stop doing something or not do something when presented with reasonable advice that it is illegal. The whole “he is just a fucking lawyer” statement doesn’t reflect well on Karpinski.

  42. With her skills and maturity, it’s hard to imagine her getting very far up the ladder in the private sector.

    I think we should abolish the U.S. Military and just hire Ghurkas. With India’s huge population, we could get as many as we need, they would blend in better in Iraq anyway.

  43. Too bad for Karpinsky. On one hand she has Lindsay “poo-sea” Graham supporting torture, Bush supporting torture and Rummy probably getting off on torture, yet she has torture in her prison and gets demoted for it. I know what she did was wrong, and she should have known it too. However, she never would have known it was wrong from the example set by the President, Vice President, Secretary of Defense, National Security Advisor and some Senators.

  44. Just add torterers to the long list of people who are being persecuted by the Republicans.

  45. Why don’t you armchair soldiers get a life or at least some information instead of sitting around “koffee-klatching” endlessly on someone and something you evidently know little about, such as, 1. Col. Karpinski is no longer in the military and no longer subject to courts martial although she ASKED for one. The brass, knowing she would kow tow to no one and reveal the truth about them chose to demote her to Col. and allow her to slip quietly into retirement. Only she chose to go not so quietly even though she could have. Yet another contrast between “cowardice” theirs, and “courage” hers.

    2. If you’d bother to read her book published a year and a half ago or listen to her public words, she explains how the Abu Ghraib interrogation area was suddenly “privatised” (you bright folks remember that, don’t you?) without her knowledge and certainly without her permission. When she discovered what was happening at Abu Ghraib, then just one of 17 prisons she was in charge of, by the way, she was outraged and spoke with her commanding officer about it. He forbade her from any contact, even with her own soldiers who had been commandeered by the “private contractors” under Rumsfeld’s orders.

    3. Then Brigadier General Janis Karpinski, the only female to be promoted to that rank over several males AND serve in a combat area in US history, and you’ve got to know how that rankled the old boys’ military club sensibilities, tried her best to find out what the hell was going on (and ultimately did) and to do something effective about it. She was stymied at every opportunity UNTIL she retired and re-entered civilian life where she continues to fight the good fight.

    Janis Karpinski is a good, honest and incredibly BRAVE American and a Republican, to boot. So next time you decide to pick on someone, pick on someone your own size. Small.

  46. I see now that one nice advantage of being a libertarian is that you don’t have to endure any blame for our nation’s collective decisions?one can ignore that torture is an unavoidable consequence of going to war by simply by scapegoating the individuals who carry out our policies. Worst case scenario is that you have to argue about who the scapegoat should be, as long as it’s mutually understood that Abu Ghraib wasn’t our fault.

  47. Drew – that’s touching how you stand up for your mom like that and all.

    You’re quite the Mensch. And from your words, may we infer that you’re not an armchair soldier? Maybe an Ottoman Soldier? Or an end table soldier? Do you play soldier with the “meletary lawyer” (sic)? Who gets to wear the Agent Orange costume today?

  48. Dan T. – Good point. When I was out in the streets protesting before the war started….oh wait, you were talking about collective decisions. Well, I guess a President who gets less than half the votes can start an unnecessary war and we’ll call it a collective decision, by the decision-maker, of course.

    It seems like your last posts says nothing more than it’s cool to be a libertarian because one doesn’t have to justify bullshit party politics. I’m fine with that.

  49. Dan T. – Good point. When I was out in the streets protesting before the war started….oh wait, you were talking about collective decisions. Well, I guess a President who gets less than half the votes can start an unnecessary war and we’ll call it a collective decision, by the decision-maker, of course.

    Keep in mind that both the executive and legislative agreed on this war, not to mention that to some degree the previous administration agreed to it. A collective decision doesn’t mean everybody has to agree, but for the most part everybody at least had a say in it.

  50. Well, I guess a President who gets less than half the votes…..

    Hey Lamar, sorry yuo are so stupid that you don’t understand the electorial process. You sound like a whiney ass liberal dem.

    As to unnecessary war? Saddam was a despotic sadist that was funding terrorist activities.

    you are pathetic

  51. “””1. The techniques the hillybilly jailers used are right out of the “alternative interrogation techniques” that were widely used at Gitmo and Baghram. The sexual humiliation, the hooding, the nudity, the “stress positions.””””

    If it’s happening in all 3 places, Cuba, Iraq, and Afghanistan the odds are the local commanders are not the primary motivator.

  52. “sorry yuo are so stupid.”

    No apology required, JohnD. Just the fact that you understood my post is enough for me. You were the only person who realized that I was talking about a mandate for war, and not the electoral process itself.

    I’m also glad you shined the light on how evil Saddam was. Until now, I just thought he was a middle eastern Magnum PI. You know, fun and lovable. Boy, I just can’t politics seriously!! LOL! Thank god I have you JohnD. 😉

  53. I’m just glad Iraqis don’t have to put up with sadists and terrorists anymore.

  54. I’m coming in late so I’ll keep it short and sweet bitter

    John,
    If you wiggle your shoulders you might actually succeed in getting your head shoved so far up your own ass that your ass disappears up your ass.

    joe,
    Just because you are correct on this one, doesn’t mean you’re not the most deluded self-righteous elitist asshat on H&R.

  55. …and, oddly enough, the regular commenter who is the farthest from your political position.

    I mean, what are the odds?

  56. (gee I wonder how often this stuff goes on in our own prisons?)

    I seriously doubt that the Black Disciples or the Aryan Brotherhood would put up with that shit.

    As for the post, I can’t feel sorry for Karpinski. Responsibility goes with the territory when you wear stars.

    Graham? Douchebaggery goes with the territory of being a politician. Very few people look good in this episode.

  57. Do I have the gist of the original thread right?

    Senator who had nothing to do with Abu Ghraib: Bad Guy.

    General overseeing the abuses at Abu Ghraib: Good guy.

    The gist of the blog entry or the thread of comments?
    Blog entry? no. Comments? I don’t think so.
    Let’s revisit…

    Col. (formerly Brigadier Gen.) Janis Karpinski, who was demoted after she presided over abuses at Abu Ghraib, attended a screening of an Iraq documentary paneled by Sen. Lindsay Graham. When audience comments began, Graham regretted that he never had a chance to court martial Karpinski. She stood up and called him a coward, and now writes about the incident in the Huffington Post.
    [Excerpt from what the army lady wrote]
    Graham is like Chuck Hagel, if slightly more frustrating – a seasoned, smart Republican who criticizes the Bush administration’s abuses before taking the dive with his colleagues.

    If you skip what the army lady wrote about herself, there’s nothing positive about her, and something sort of complimentary about the senator.

  58. Lindsay Graham is taking the opposite of the fundamentalist Christian stance. Graham appears to love the sin but hate the sinner.

  59. “I think we should abolish the U.S. Military and just hire Ghurkas. With India’s huge population, we could get as many as we need, they would blend in better in Iraq anyway.”

    1. Gurkhas are from Nepal, not India.
    2. We do hire them. They provide security for our compound and perimeter I am now.

  60. Aw krap – sorry for the typeo in URL on post by “Nightstand”. That was me. I didn’t intend the url to be so fubared. Apologies.

    VM

  61. Just for the record, especially to Madpad, yeah, they’re all the same circle of hell.

    There’s a difference between those who constructed policy, those who oversaw its implementation, those who were just following orders, those in our government who publicly advocated for that policy, and those in the blogosphere who defended those policies and the government.

    …There’s a difference between a Himmler and the guy who was just following orders–even if they’re both going to the same circle of hell. …and there’s a difference between those guys and the people who would defend their actions online.

    Theoretically, people online can repent of their evil, stop propagating their lies and work to undo some of the damage they did. …and that’s what I was trying to get across.

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