Commander of Torture Prison Blames Army

US Army Brigadier General Janis Karpinski, the officer who has been at the center of a storm about abuse and torture by US soldiers at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq, broke her silence Saturday. General Karpinski was the commander of Abu Ghraib prison.

Speaking to the press from her home in South Carolina, General Karpinski admitted to knowing about the abuse since January, but denied that her reservist soldiers in the 800th Military Police Brigade had been primarily responsible.

She said that her commanders wanted to escape responsibility by blaming the reservist military police units under her command, and that her commanders considered the reservist soldiers as “disposable.”

She insisted that the regular army, active-duty, military intelligence units bore the ultimate responsibility, saying, “Why would they want the active-duty people to take the blame? They want to put this on the M.P.’s and hope that this thing goes away. Well, it’s not going to go away.”

Karpinski may be justifiably shifting the spotlight onto her commanders, but published information does indicate that Karpinski had active-duty, non-reservist, military intelligence personnel under her direct command. Military intelligence personnel were often asked to help torture prisoners in the notorious 1A cellblock, according to published reports.

Karpinski, a former Special Forces intelligence officer who speaks Arabic, spent 10 years in the Army before entering the reserves in 1987. She said she did not know what was going on in the 1A torture cellblock in the prison she ran because it was off limits to her troops.

A secret report prepared by the Army, and disclosed by The New Yorker magazine recommended that seven members of a military police unit be charged. The report not recommended that General Karpinski face charges.