Former Abu Ghraib general says Rumsfeld initiated prison interrogation instructions

[JURIST] Former Abu Ghraib commander Janis Karpinski [JURIST news archive] has alleged that US Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld personally signed a memorandum authorizing extreme interrogation techniques used at Iraq's Abu Ghraib prison [JURIST news archive]. In an interview [text] with Thomas Jefferson School of Law Professor Marjorie Cohn published Wednesday on truthout.org, Karpinski said that when she first visited the prison cellblock where prisoner abuse was captured in photographs, the military's Criminal Investigation Division had removed everything except for a memorandum:

It was a memorandum signed by Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld, authorizing a short list, maybe 6 or 8 techniques: use of dogs; stress positions; loud music; deprivation of food; keeping the lights on, those kinds of things. And then a handwritten message over to the side that appeared to be the same handwriting as the signature, and that signature was Secretary Rumsfeld's. And it said, "Make sure this happens," with two exclamation points. And that was the only thing that they had. Everything else had been confiscated.
Karpinski, the only high-ranking military officer to be punished in connection with the abuse scandal [JURIST report], has previously alleged that the interrogation techniques were approved by top US officials [recorded audio; JURIST report]. In March, the American Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit against Rumsfeld [PDF complaint; ACLU case backgrounder; JURIST report] and other top officials, including Karpinski, alleging that they had direct responsibility for the abuse of detainees in US military custody.

Karpinski was a Brigadier General when she was in charge of Abu Ghraib but was later demoted for dereliction of duty [JURIST report]. She has called for an independent commission to look into the scandal because prior investigations have been conducted by those under Rumsfeld's control; she insists she has been scapegoated by the military because she is a woman and a reservist. In the interview published Wednesday Karpinski also derided "corruption like I've never seen it before" in the US-run Coalition Provisional Authority [archived official website] that ran Iraq before a transitional Iraqi government took over in June 2004: Cohn tells JURIST that her "accusations about contractors pocketing tens of thousands of dollars could lead to a criminal investigation."

 

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