For Abu Ghraib Tactics
By Julian Coman
06 July, 2004
former head of the Abu Ghraib prison in Baghdad has for the first time
accused the American Secretary of Defense, Donald Rumsfeld, of directly
authorizing Guantanamo Bay-style interrogation tactics.
Brig-Gen Janis Karpinski,
who commanded the 800th Military Police Brigade, which is at the center
of the Abu Ghraib prisoner-abuse scandal, said that documents yet to
be released by the Pentagon would show that Mr Rumsfeld personally approved
the introduction of harsher conditions of detention in Iraq.
In an interview
with The Signal newspaper of Santa Clarita, California, which was also
broadcast on a local television channel yesterday, Gen Karpinski was
asked if she knew of documents showing that Mr Rumsfeld approved "particular
interrogation techniques" for Abu Ghraib.
Gen Karpinski was
interviewed for four hours by Maj- Gen Antonio Taguba, who was ordered
to investigate abuse at Abu Ghraib and produced a damning report, which
heavily criticized Gen Karpinski for a lack of leadership at the prison.
into the scandal, she has repeatedly maintained that the treatment of
Iraqi detainees was taken out of her hands by higher-ranking officials,
acting on orders from Washington.
this came out," she replied, "I've not only seen, but I've
been asked about some of those documents, that he [Mr Rumsfeld] signed
and agreed to."
Asked whether the
documents have been made public, Gen Karpinski replied "No"
and went on to describe the methods approved in them as involving "dogs,
food deprivation and sleep deprivation".
The Pentagon has
consistently denied that Mr Rumsfeld authorized the transfer of harsher
techniques of interrogation and detention from Guantanamo Bay to Abu
Ghraib, where all prisoners are supposed to be protected by the Geneva
Replying to Gen
Karpinski's allegations, a spokesman for the Pentagon told The Telegraph:
"Mr Rumsfeld did not approve any interrogation procedures in Iraq.
The Secretary of Defense was not in the approval chain for interrogation
procedures, which would have remained within the purview of Central
Command, headed by Gen John Abizaid."
The Bush administration
has been dogged by suspicions that harsh interrogation methods employed
at Guantanamo were transferred to Abu Ghraib, as Iraqi insurgents began
to score significant hits against coalition forces last year. In May,
before the Senate armed services committee, Stephen Cambone, the under-secretary
of Defense for intelligence, publicly denied charges that Mr Rumsfeld
had approved Guantanamo-style interrogations in Iraq.
Last month, the
White House took the unusual step of releasing hundreds of internal
documents and debates concerning interrogation procedures at Guantanamo.
Extreme interrogation techniques at the camp, it was revealed, now require
the explicit approval of Mr Rumsfeld. The Bush administration insists,
however, that the notorious abuse of prisoners at Abu Ghraib was an
aberration on the part of a handful of rogue soldiers. A Pentagon spokesman
said that all relevant documents on interrogation techniques in Iraq
would be made public but could not say when.
Gen Karpinski has
been suspended from duty pending ongoing investigations into abuse of
prisoners at the Baghdad prison. In a recent interview with the BBC,
she complained of being turned into a scapegoat for the scandal, arguing
that the running of the prison was taken out of her hands.
In a separate embarrassment
for the Department of Defense last week, six recent studies, leaked
to the Los Angeles Times, heavily criticized the military for failing
to screen adequately potential recruits with violent and even criminal
The reports were
written by a senior Pentagon consultant. One was delivered in September
2003, weeks before the worst abuses of Iraqi prisoners took place. The
title of the report was Reducing the Threat of Destructive Behavior
by Military Personnel.
In it the author,
Eli Flyer, a former senior analyst at the Department of Defense, stated:
"There are military personnel with pre-service and in-service records
that clearly establish a pattern of sub-standard Behavior These individuals
constitute a high-risk group for destructive Behavior and need to be
According to a 1998
report by Mr Flyer, one third of military recruits had arrest records.
A 1995 report found that a quarter of serving army personnel had committed
one or more criminal offences while on active duty. In his 2003 study,
Mr Flyer said that military personnel officers had been reluctant to
toughen up screening procedures, fearing that the result would be a
failure to meet recruitment goals.
Curtis Gilroy, who
oversees military recruiting policy for the Pentagon, told the Los Angeles
Times: "It's hard to pick out all the bad apples, but we are striving
to improve the system and are doing so."
of Telegraph Group Limited 2004