Profile: Janis L. Karpinski
Positions that Janis L. Karpinski has held:
- US Army Brigadier General
Janis L. Karpinski was a participant or observer in the following events:
Top: Wolfowitz (center). Karpinski stands to the left side. Bottom: Wolfowitz is partly behind Lane McCotter, who has a camera around his neck. Karpinski is behind them both. [Source: Associated Press (top) and Utah Sheriff (bottom)]Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz visits the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq. The exact time of the visit is unknown, but Wolfowitz is pictured with Brig. Gen. Janis Karpinski who begins working at Abu Ghraib in June 2003, and prison administrator Lane McCotter, who stops working at Abu Ghraib in early October. Other details of his visit there are unknown. [Tom Paine (.com), 5/27/2004]
Army Brig. Gen. Janis Karpinski—a reservist with no experience managing prisons—takes over command of the 800th Military Police Brigade, an Army reserve unit from Uniondale in New York State, from Brig. Gen. Paul Hill. She is put in charge of three large jails, eight battalions, and thirty-four hundred Army reservists. Her office is located at Baghdad Airport. [Washington Post, 5/9/2004; New Yorker, 5/10/2004] She becomes the first female general officer to lead US soldiers in combat. [Washington Post, 5/12/2004] Karpinski’s brigade, consisting of 3,400 soldiers divided over three battalions, is initially put in charge of Camp Bucca and three other smaller facilities. At this time, Camp Bucca holds about 3,500 prisoners. [Signal Newspaper, 7/4/2004]
Janis Karpinski. [Source: US Army]Army Brig. Gen. Janis Karpinski, commander of the 800th MP Brigade (see June 29, 2003), is given control of 17 prisons in Iraq, including Abu Ghraib. The 800th MP Brigade is attached, but not formally assigned to Combined Joint Task Force (CJTF) 7, the command of US troops in Iraq. Gen. Ricardo S. Sanchez has “Tactical Control” over Karpinski and her brigade, allowing him, in the later words of Lt. Gen. Anthony R. Jones (see Shortly before August 24, 2004), “the detailed and usually local direction and control of movements and maneuver necessary to accomplish missions and tasks.” However, according to Jones’s account, Sanchez does not have “Operational Control,” which would provide “full authority to organize commands and forces and employ them as the commander considers necessary to accomplish assigned missions.” [US Department of Defense, 8/23/2004 ] Thus Sanchez, Karpinski will later explain, “was not my boss, but I answered to him.” The 800th MP Brigade remains assigned to the Coalition Forces Land Component Command (CFLCC), headed by Lt. Gen. David D. McKiernan in Kuwait. McKiernan, according to Karpinski, “insisted that we remain assigned to CFLCC, because he was concerned that the CJTF-7 headquarters was going to break us up and use us in lots of different military police functions [—] it was a dysfunctional line of command.” [Signal Newspaper, 7/4/2004]
The US military reopens the Abu Ghraib prison facility in Baghdad, which had been the main prison used by Saddam Hussein. Lt. Col. Jerry L. Phillabaum, a reservist who commands the 320th Military Police Battalion, is put in charge of the prison. He reports directly to Army Brig. Gen. Janis Karpinski. [Washington Post, 5/9/2004]
Brig. Gen. Janis L. Karpinski sends a General Officer Memorandum of Reprimands (GOMOR) to everybody in the chain of command for failure to properly train a soldier of the 400th MP Battalion, whose M-16 accidentally shot a hole in the fuel tank of a vehicle as he was exiting it. This memorandum includes a long list of reprimanded staff. Major General Antonio M. Taguba will later include the list in his report on the 800th MP Brigade to support his argument that “numerous officers and senior NCOs have been reprimanded/disciplined for misconduct.” [US Department of the Army, 3/9/2004] On the same day, Deputy Defense Secretary is escorted by Karpinski as he makes a public visit of the Abu Ghraib prison.
The front gate to the Abu Ghraib prison. [Source: US Marine Corps]After the attack on UN headquarters in Baghdad (see August 29, 2003), Brig. Gen. Janis L. Karpinski becomes more concerned about the security of Abu Ghraib. “[W]e knew that we were more vulnerable than we had even imagined.” A combat unit for the defense of the prison is required. “It was promised countless times,” says Karpinski. “But we never received them. And we took measures ourselves, to the extent that we could, to reinforce our entry control points, to get appropriate weapons to the extent we were able in the towers, to get sandbags around the tents for the prisoners so at least they would have a chance of defending themselves if anything happened again. And mortars came in every night.” [Signal Newspaper, 7/4/2004]
Geoffrey Miller. [Source: US Army]Major General Geoffrey Miller, who oversees the prison at Guantanamo (see November 4, 2002), flies to Iraq for a 10-day consulting trip (see August 18, 2003). He is part of a team “experienced in strategic interrogation… to review current Iraqi theater ability to rapidly exploit internees for actionable intelligence” and to review the arrangements at the US military prisons in Iraq. [Washington Post, 5/9/2004; New Yorker, 5/17/2004; Washington Post, 8/24/2004; Savage, 2007, pp. 190] The team consists of 17 interrogation experts from Guantanamo Bay, and includes officials from the CIA and the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA). [Washington Post, 6/12/2004]
Attempt to Increase Flow of 'Actionable Intelligence' - The Pentagon’s decision to dispatch the team on this mission was influenced by the military’s growing concern that the failure of coalition forces to quell resistance against the occupation was linked to a dearth in “actionable intelligence”
(see August 2003). [New Yorker, 5/24/2004] Miller has therefore come to help Brigadier General Barabara Fast improve the results of her interrogation operations. More to the point, he is supposed to introduce her to the techniques being used at Guantanamo. [New Yorker, 6/21/2004; Signal Newspaper, 7/4/2004] Officials are hoping detainees will provide intelligence on weapons of mass destruction and Saddam Hussein, who is still on the loose. [Washington Post, 5/16/2004]
'Gitmoizing' Abu Ghraib - “[Miller] came up there and told me he was going to ‘Gitmoize’ the detention operation,” Brigadier General Janis L. Karpinski, later recalls. [Washington Post, 5/9/2004] Miller will later deny he used the word “Gitmoize.” [Washington Post, 5/12/2004] During Miller’s visit, a Joint Interrogation and Debriefing Center (JIDC) is established in order to centralize the intelligence operations at the prison. Captain Carolyn A. Wood is made officer in charge (OIC) of the Interrogation Coordination Element (ICE), within the JIDC. [US Department of Defense, 8/23/2004 ] Before returning to Washington, Miller leaves a list of acceptable interrogation techniques—based on what has been used in Guatanamo—posted on a wall in Abu Ghraib, which says that long term isolation, sleep disruption, “environmental manipulation,” and “stress positions” can be used to facilitate interrogations, but only with the approval of Lieutenant General Ricardo Sanchez on a case-by-case basis. [Washington Post, 5/21/2004] The use of dogs is also included, even though the technique was banned at Guantanamo eight months before by Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld (see January 15, 2003). [Washington Post, 7/19/2004; US Department of Defense, 8/23/2004 ] Karpinski later recalls, “He said they are like dogs and if you allow them to believe at any point that they are more than a dog then you’ve lost control of them.” [BBC, 6/15/2004] Miller’s visit to Iraq heralds some significant changes, which include, first, the introduction of more coercive interrogation tactics; second, the taking control of parts of the Abu Ghraib facility by military intelligence; and third, the use of MPs in the intelligence collection process. During his visit, Miller discusses interrogation techniques with military intelligence chief Colonel Thomas M. Pappas. [New York Times, 5/13/2004]
'Snowballing' Effect of Chaos, Brutality - “The operation was snowballing,” Samuel Provance, a US military intelligence officer, will later recall, describing the situation at Abu Ghraib after Miller’s visit. “There were more and more interrogations. The chain of command was putting a lot of resources into the facility.” And Karpinski will later say that she was being shut out of the process at about this time. “They continued to move me farther and farther away from it.” [Washington Post, 5/20/2004] Major General Anthony Taguba (see March 9, 2004) will later determine that Miller’s visit helped bring about the complete breakdown of discipline at the prison: “Interrogators actively requested,” at Miller’s behest, “that MP guards set physical and mental conditions for favorable interrogations of witnesses.” In essence, Miller tells guards to “soften up” prisoners so they will not be able to resist their inquisitors. Miller will later deny any responsibility for the Abu Ghraib torture program (see May 4, 2004). [Savage, 2007, pp. 190]
Rumsfeld visiting Abu Ghraib (his jacket is held over his back in both pictures). Karpinski is in both pictures as well. [Source: Associated Press (top) and CBC (bottom)]Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld visits the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq. He is guided by Brig. Gen. Janis Karpinski. It is not known otherwise who he visits, how long he stays there, or what is discussed. [New York Times, 5/14/2004] However, his visit comes exactly at the time (late August-early September 2003) that Rumsfeld expands Operation Copper Green to Iraq, allowing interrogators to use more aggressive techniques, such as sexual humiliation (see (Late August 2003 or September 2003)). Rumsfeld’s visit also comes in the middle of a week-long visit to Abu Ghraib by Maj. Gen. Geoffrey D. Miller, who is there with a team pushing for more aggressive interrogation techniques in order to get more actionable intelligence out of the detainees (see August 31, 2003-September 9, 2003).
The interrogations at Abu Ghraib are taken over by the special access program, “Copper Green”
(see Late 2001-Early 2002).
“Hard-core special operatives, some of them with aliases,” are sent to the prison. SAP operatives, CIA operatives, civilian contractors, and officers from the 205th Military Brigade are now in charge. At their request, MPs of the 372nd Military Police Brigade “soften up” prisoners by subjecting them to intense physical, mental, and sexual abuse. Brig. Gen. Janis Karpinski, the commander of the 800th Military Police Brigade, who is presumably in charge of Iraq’s prisons and detention camps, does not understand what is going on at Abu Ghraib. “I thought most of the civilians there were interpreters, but there were some civilians that I didn’t know,” Karpinski will later explain to Seymour Hersh. “I called them the disappearing ghosts. I’d seen them once in a while at Abu Ghraib and then I’d see them months later. They were nice—they’d always call out to me and say, ‘Hey, remember me? How are you doing?’ [They were] always bringing in somebody for interrogation or waiting to collect somebody going out.” But the CIA quickly grows weary of the program. A former intelligence official will later explain to Hersh: “They said, ‘No way. We signed up for the core program in Afghanistan—pre-approved for operations against high-value terrorist targets—and now you want to use it for cabdrivers, brothers-in-law, and people pulled off the streets.’… The CIA’s legal people objected” and ended the SAP program at Abu Ghraib. [New Yorker, 5/24/2004]
Soon after the 372nd Military Police Company arrives at Abu Ghraib prison in Baghdad, Army Brig. Gen. Janis Karpinski sends Lt. Col. Jerry Phillabaum, who is in charge of the prison, to Kuwait for two weeks so that he can have “some relief from the pressure he was experiencing.” [US Department of the Army, 3/9/2004; Washington Post, 5/9/2004]
The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) writes a letter to Gen. Janis Karpinski in relation to a recent shooting incident (see September 22, 2003) at Camp Bucca and recommends that she takes appropriate measures. The same letter also asks her to investigate another incident that took place on September 3 (see September 3, 2003) at the same camp. In that incident, three detainees doing a voluntary cleaning job were severely injured when a cluster bomb went off. [International Committee of the Red Cross, 2/24/2004 ]
In Iraq, generals Barbara Fast and Janis Karpinski step down from the security detainee release board. [New York Times, 6/19/2004]
Col. Marc Warren, a top legal officer to Lt. Col. Ricardo S. Sanchez, steps down from the security detainee release board for prisoners in Iraq. His resignation follows that of generals Barbara Fast and Janis Karpinski (see Early November 2003). They are replaced by several colonels and other personnel, “so as to provide more opportunity for the meetings,” according to a military official, in order to speed up the release of detainees. The new board starts meeting twice a week. [New York Times, 6/19/2004]
In an interview with the St. Petersburg Times, Army Brig. Gen. Janis Karpinski says that for many of the prisoners, “living conditions now are better in prison than at home. At one point we were concerned they wouldn’t want to leave.” But when asked for details on the detention of top Baath Party officials, she would only say that they were being detained under “appropriate arrangements.” [St. Petersburg Times, 12/14/2003]
Cell blocks 1A and 2A, where the infamous Abu Ghraib abuses take place. [Source: CBC]The US military replies to the Red Cross’ November 6 letter (see November 6, 2003), claiming that the prisoners being held in cell bocks 1A and 2A of Abu Ghraib are “security detainees” who are not entitled to “full GC protection as recognized in GCIV/5 [Article 5 of the Fourth Geneva Convention].” The 3-page letter adds that “such protection will be afforded as soon as the security situation in Iraq allows it.” Article 5 allows an occupying power to exempt captives from the protection of the Conventions if they can be shown to be a continuing threat to the occupying force. However according to critics of the administration’s judgment, the provision is supposed to be applied on a case-by-case basis and is not meant to include people who have valuable intelligence. [US Department of the Army, 12/24/2003; New York Times, 5/22/2004] The letter also says that the Red Cross should schedule its visits to the cell bocks 1A and 2A ahead of time instead of showing up unannounced. The response letter—written by Army lawyers in Washington but signed by Army Brig. Gen. Janis Karpinski in Baghdad—claims that such visits could interrupt interrogations. [New York Times, 5/19/2004] In fact, many of the detainees in those cell blocks are not suspected to be security threats.
Gen. Janis Karpinski is informed of the abuses depicted in the photographs turned in by Spc. Joseph Darby a few days before (see January 13, 2004). She is an hour and a half away from Baghdad engaged in some kind of “security mission.” The Criminal Investigation Division (CID) commander informs her by e-mail “almost as if he thought of me as an after-fact or an afterthought,” she later says.
[Signal Newspaper, 7/4/2004]
Gen. Janis Karpinski is disciplined by Lt. Col. Ricardo S. Sanchez with a Memorandum of Admonishment and relieved of duty. She herself suspends Lt. Col. Jerry L. Phillabaum and Cpt. Donald Reese from their duties. [US Department of the Army, 3/9/2004]
The Pentagon suspends Gen. Janis Karpinski, but without officially notifying her or telling her why. She tells CNN on May 26: “I don’t know [what the reasons are] because I’ve never been officially notified. I found out, as everybody knows, through the media, initially.” She also says, “It can certainly have an impact, a dramatic impact, on my career.”
Brig. Gen. Janis Karpinski tells the BBC: “I have been told there’s a reliable witness who’s made a statement… indicating that not only was I not included in any of the meetings discussing interrogation operations, but specific measures were taken to ensure I would not have access to those facilities, that information or any of the details of interrogations at Abu Ghraib or anywhere else.” Who that witness was, she does not reveal. When asked if she thinks there is a conspiracy at a senior level to keep her in the dark, she answers: “Correct. From what I understand… it was people that had full knowledge of what was going on out at Abu Ghraib who knew that they had to keep Janis Karpinski from discovering any of those activities.” When she is asked whether she believes the conspiracy reaches up to the Pentagon or the White House, she responds: “The indication is that it may have.”
[Associated Press, 8/4/2004]
The Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR), based in New York, and the Republican Lawyers’ Association in Berlin, file a criminal complaint in Germany against Donald Rumsfeld, George Tenet, Stephen A. Cambone, Ricardo S. Sanchez, and Janis Karpinski, alleging responsibility for war crimes at Abu Ghraib. The German 2002 Code of Crimes Against International Law grants German courts universal jurisdiction in cases involving war crimes or crimes against humanity. The center is representing five Iraqis who claim they were victims of mistreatment that included beatings, sleep and food deprivation, electric shocks, and sexual abuse. [Deutsche Welle (Bonn), 11/30/2004] Though German law stipulates that prosecution can be dismissed in cases where neither the victim nor the perpetrator are German citizens or are outside Germany and cannot be expected to appear before court, [Deutsche Welle (Bonn), 11/30/2004] that fact that Sanchez is based at a US base in Germany makes it possible that the case will be heard. [Deutsche Welle (Bonn), 11/30/2004]
The former US commander of Iraq prisons in 2003, retired Brigadier General Janis Karpinski, tells CBS News interviewers that she and her fellow senior officials were scapegoated by the Bush administration for the crimes and abuses that took place at Abu Ghraib prison. She says that every order concerning prisoner interrogations came from the top down. “These soldiers didn’t design these techniques on their own… we were following orders,” Karpinski says. “We were bringing this to our chain of command and they were saying whatever the military intelligence tells you to do out there you are authorized to do.” Karpinski’s interview is in response to the report just released by the Senate Armed Services Committee, which found that the torture policies carried out by the military came directly from the highest reaches of the Bush administration as early as 2002 (see April 21, 2009). The report also concludes that the Abu Ghraib abuses were a direct result of Bush administration policies, as were widespread abuses at Guantanamo Bay. After the Abu Ghraib scandal became well known, Karpinski was demoted to colonel and later retired. She says: “The line is clear. It went from Washington, DC. From the very top of the administration with the legal opinions through Bagram to Guantanamo Bay and then to Iraq via the commander from Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. And the contractors who were hired to do those things.” Asked about her assertion that she and the soldiers prosecuted for crimes committed at Abu Ghraib (see May 19, 2004-March 22, 2006 and January 16, 2005) were “scapegoated” by Bush officials, Karpinski says: “Scapegoat is the perfect word and it’s an understatement. Right now, with the hard, fast facts in those memos, the black and white proof, the administration is suggesting that those operatives should be immune from any investigations or persecution.” [CBS News, 4/22/2009]
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