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Saturday, July 03, 2004

Songbird 

From the Santa Clarita Signal (courtesy of Lambert at Corrente): Brig. Gen. Janis Karpinski, embattled former head of Abu Ghraib prison, is making bee-youtiful music. And our first dedication tonight goes out to Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld:
Signal: Are there documents showing Donald Rumsfeld also approved particular interrogation techniques for Abu Ghraib?

Karpinski: I did not see it personally (at the time), but since all of this has come out, I have not only seen, but I've been asked about some of those documents, that he signed and agreed to.

Signal: About Abu Ghraib?

Karpinski: Yes. About using the same techniques that were successful in Guantanamo Bay, at Abu Ghraib.

Signal: Those documents have not been released yet?

Karpinski: No.

A Pentagon spokesman said Rumsfeld was never asked by the chain of command in Iraq to approve coercive interrogation techniques.
A two-hour "Newsmaker of the Week" interview with Karpinski will be shown today (Saturday) at 5 p.m. on Channel 20 in the Santa Clarita (CA) area. The full transcript is already up, however, and it's full of staggering stuff -- note especially Karpinski's dialogue with the fellow who introduces himself as an Israeli interrogator:
Signal: During or after Gen. Miller's visit, what was your understanding of what he expected the MPs to do with regard to interrogations? And since he's not in your chain of command, how did you take his — what would you call it, advice?

Karpinski: Well, I couldn't even call it advice, because he was dictating that there were going to be changes made at Abu Ghraib. First, he told me he was going to take Abu Ghraib, and I told him that Abu Ghraib was not mine to give him. And he cleared the room and he told me that we could do it his way, or we could do it the hard way. And I said to him, "Sir, I'm not being difficult; I am telling you, Abu Ghraib is not mine to give you. It belongs to the CPA, the Coalition Provisional Authority. If Ambassador Bremer relinquishes control of that facility to you" — he said, "Rick Sanchez said I could have whatever facility I wanted, and I want Abu Ghraib, and we're going to train the MPs to work with the interrogators."

I said, "Sir, the MPs have never worked interrogation missions. It is not like it is down at Guantanamo Bay." I said, "I've been down there" — I visited one time — "and you have 640 prisoners and 800 military police personnel." Two MPs escort every detainee when they leave the cell. They're in leg irons and hand irons and a belly chain. I said, "We don't use leg irons and hand irons and belly chains. The MPs don't feel that it's necessary to move our prisoners around that way."

He said — you know, again, he's waving his arms at me, as if he is dismissing me — and he is saying, "It's not going to be your concern. I'm leaving a CD, a compact disk, with training information, and I'm leaving printed material. They're going to get all the training they need, we're going to select the MPs who can do this, and they're going to work specifically with the interrogation team."

Karpinski: One of the members of [Miller's Guantanamo] team was a JAG officer, a lawyer from down there. And I said to her — she was a lieutenant colonel, I believe — and I said to her, "You know, we're having problems with releasing some of these prisoners. What are you doing?" And she said, "Oh, we're not releasing anybody." And I said, "What's going to be the end state?" And she said, "Most of these prisoners will never leave Guantanamo Bay. They'll spend the rest of their lives in detention." And I said, "How do they get visits from home?" She said, "These are terrorists, ma'am. They're not entitled to visitors from home."

I was stunned. I thought, we'll never get out of Iraq at this rate.

Signal: Did you have any knowledge of third-country nationals around the interrogation process at Abu Ghraib?

Karpinski: No. Because — I knew that there were third-country nationals out there, and we had contactors coming out to Abu Ghraib to do a lot of work, and then — I mean, the MPs were vigilant in keeping them away from the detainees. But occasionally a detainee would slip a note out to one of them, or put it in the food bucket as it was being returned to the contractor or whatever it was. But there were literally hundreds of contractors out there, third-country nationals.

Now, the ones that were around the interrogation? I don't know. I was visiting an interrogation facility one time — not under my control, but I was escorting a four-star. And he wanted to go back and observe an interrogation that was taking place. They asked me if I wanted to go and I said no. So I was standing there and, you know, the usual conversation, just kind of chit-chat, there (were) three individuals there and two of them had DCU pants on, one had a pair of blue jeans on, but they all had T-shirts on. They did not appear to be military people. And I said to one of the — one of them asked me, "So what's new?" Or, "What's challenging about being a female general officer over here?" And I said, "Oh! Too long a story, but it's all fun." And I said to this guy who was sitting up on the counter, I said to him, "Are you local?" Because he looked like he was Kuwaiti. I said, "Are you an interpreter?" He said, "No, I'm an interrogator." And I said, "Oh, are you from here?" And he said, "No, actually, I'm from Israel." And I was kind of shocked. And I think I laughed. And I said, "No, really?" And he said, "No, really, I am." And — but it was — I didn't pursue it, I just said, "Oh, I visited your country a couple of years ago and I was amazed that there's so little difference between the appearance of Israelis and Americans," and — I really was just kind of making chit-chat at that point.

But it didn't strike me as unusual, I guess, until after the fact. And I remember making a comment to him, I said, "Wow, that's kind of unusual." And he said, "No, not really." Like that.

So — I do know for a fact that at least in that one case — now, I didn't ask him for identity papers or anything. It was none of my business. But that's what he said.

Signal: And that was an interrogator at —

Karpinski: At an interrogation facility, yes.

Signal: He said he was from Israel.

Karpinski: Right.

Signal: Who is — who are the responsible parties for the prisoner abuse at Abu Ghraib?

Karpinski: I don't know. I could tell you that — you want my opinion?

Signal: Yes.

Karpinski: Gen. Miller. Gen. Fast. Gen. Sanchez. (Defense Undersecretary Stephen A.) Cambone. I don't know if it stops at Cambone, but I believe that he was orchestrating it, he was directing. And Gen. Karpinski. Because she didn't yell loud enough. She didn't object enough.

So — I — those soldiers are mine. I have an obligation to protect them, and I have an obligation to support them, and I have an obligation to make sure that there is not a miscarriage of justice.

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