Category Archives: Torture

Targeting Civilians: Brigadier General Jan Karpinski Speaks About Abu Ghraib Prison

Brigadier General Jan Karpinski Set Up Over Abu Ghraib Prison

The radio interview below is an interview with Janis Karpinksi the former commander of Abu Ghraib detention facility near Baghdad, Iraq.  The interview is with Freedom Radio.

There is a wise saying: 

“It is for those who know to tell the blind horseman on the blind horse that he is heading for the abyss” (Lao Tzu)

“It is the truth that sets you free” (transparency, openness, honesty)

A quote from General Janis Karpinski:

“We were all taken in government took advantage of us  in our reeling response to 911, at weakest moment we know who did this, we need to go get them. We all bought in to it, because we were afraid, kept reminding us that we needed to be afraid, be very afraid that was the justification to march forward with this ridiculous plan they reminded to be afraid”

Americans and others around the world when vigilant about what is done in their name, can ensure a free and open society. Secrecy and silence is the sign of repression and dictatorship.  Ignorance may be convenient and soothing to ignore truths bravely revealed but eventually it comes home to roost.  That is when people say its “not fair”.  

Strangely I found this interview by chance as I looked at a documentary on Netflicks that showed a place called Abu Ghraib in Egypt.  It was about pyramids. My curiosity about what this name meant lead me to Janis Karpinski, a female commanding officer who ran 17 detention centre in Iraq and was targeted as responsible (without trial) for Abu Ghraib torture and rendition.  The interview reveals, she was indeed set up by those at the top.  She was kept in the dark about the interrogations and kept busy as the real architects former US Defense Secretary Rumsfeld, General Sanchez and others gave the green light to torture with the “gloves off”.  They had outcomes they wanted to see.  She reveals how power works and operates secretly and the insanity of sweeping for thousands of innocent Iraqi citizens, some of whom had violated curfew, others petty criminals to find themselves imprisoned and tortured for information they didn’t know.  The objective in Iraq was to find Saddam Hussein, this was an agenda of those at the top and has Scott Ritter indicated was not about weapons of mass destruction (cover story).  Andrew Wilkie here in Australia was a whistle-blower in respect of the Australian Government following the US in an illegal war of aggression.  He was an Intelligence Officer with the Officer of National Assessment on the Iraqi desk and he indicated there was low threat to Australians.  In truth there was no threat to Australians or Americans. The Australian Government was supportive of this war.  This is very concerning.  It appears unconditional support. I would ask why?

Brigadeir General Karpinksi said the majority of those incarcerated were ordinary Iraqi citizens, some well educated, swept up, inclusive of whole families, detained in these facilities without any idea of the charges or when they would be released. It had been made clear to her that because they were not “prisoners of war” they did not receive the rights and just treatment provided under the Geneva Conventions.  She was told bluntly they had “no rights”.  Note this is a departure from a democratic philosophy towards dictatorship.

Warning bells should go off at this point as this is illegal as they are detained without trial.  I contemplated the refugees “detained” here in Australia as I listened to her.  I contemplated protestors detained for 14 days without trial under the ASIO Act, I interviewed Scott Parkin a US citizen held for protesting and teaching nonviolent techniques to effectively protest Halliburton (key contractor in Iraq) in Sydney.  I contemplated the cowardice (as she put it) of those in command who manipulated events to portray her as the one responsible for torture at Abu Ghraib. This is deception at the highest levels.

She also dropped a bomb shell so to speak when she stated the photos were deliberately done (as was the war).  The interrogators apparently received the techniques from Guantanamo Bay.

It seems very clear from listening that the need “to win the war” is what drove these decisions from the top. A rationale of the ends justifies the means. When means is what creates the ends in truth.  Following the rules of war, the military and Geneva Conventions.  It is clear that civilians were treated like potential criminals and mixed in with those who were combatants. Ironically, combatants have protections under the Geneva Conventions but not the civilians do not, this is very disturbing, this means they can do anything to them.  She reflected on the rights of US citizens, the right to go before a court, which the Iraqi’s requested (lawyers) and were denied as there were not enough lawyers they said (I doubt that is true).  Human Rights Lawyers came to Guantanamo to determine test cases as here is a democracy violating its own principles and laws in another country, as it is not held to account. That is revealing as the mask of decency is off.  So a key principle of a democratic system is to go before a judge was denied, to be provided with an attorney (equality before the law) and the right to a fair hearing (without bias). She stated the Iraqi judiciary, despite Saddam Hussein’s abuses, were extremely fair better than US courts.  

She had extensive experience in the Middle East and often talked to local people to find out what they thought. She had respect for the Iraqi people and contrasted them with the US people.  She said they were well educated. She said if Americans stood in the shoes of Iraqi’s how they might feel in the army came and shot their neighbours and they knew were next.  What if your whole family is taken away.  This is a General making this statement.  Apparently the women and mothers would wait outside the prison in hope their fathers, brothers and uncles would be released.  They went after men around 28 with beards (all men had beards).  She was astounded at how easily American’s believe their leaders. 

She also spoke of wanting to make a positive difference, she had trained women in the United Arab Emirites in the military.  I am sure she would have offended those in Saudi Arabia and other Middle Eastern countries given their attitudes to women. Clearly in the US she was pioneering women in the military and sought to be taken seriously by demanding leadership roles.  That discrimination in my view is still very evident.

The fact she was blamed and selected given she is a woman, is not surprising to me, as this incensed the population more given how women are perceived. Her demonisation was a skilfull intelligence deflection from those responsible, whom she called cowards, and the truth of who actually ordered the interrogations. She was deceived and then made a scapegoat, this is a great travesty of justice and it happens when good people do nothing.  I totally understand the humiliation of being targeted with allegations that are untrue.  The stress of not being able to defend yourself or access justice but put in a position where she must defend herself and the many who won’t believe her. She didn’t even have a hearing nor did anyone speak to her face. She experienced no response, secrecy and orchestrated behind her back. She was encouraged to return to the US from Iraq assured her career was fine.  It was not.  She was vilified and this is a form of victimisation (bullying) that is noteworthy. 

She makes a very powerful quote at the end of this radio program (see below).  It is recommended listening given the times we are moving through, the changes to legislation restricting rights (here in Australia), the blind eye to human rights violations and the notion of democracy as just a word not a way of life.  It is evident democracy is no longer real when leaders do not live the values their country states it believes in.  It is clear in the case of Americans it is no longer life, liberty and happiness that is valued.  Until citizens claim their democratic right to speak up, ask questions and actually investigate what is being done in their name, this will only worsen as people are not held to account.  This appears the only way they learn or dissuades others from totalitarian objectives that ignore the rights of others.  This is the era of human rights in my view.  

Fear is a tactic used in the war on terror.  It is noteworthy to reflect on demonisation in all its forms.  However, the truth is coming out and this is a good thing.  It is up to people to make up their own minds, as Janis advises.

All soldiers (no matter the country) need to reflect deeply on those at the top and if they are being placed in harms way, to ask is this in defence of freedoms or to protect the wealth of a few without any regard for the safety or rights of civilians (innocent people).  Something to deeply ponder.

As a briefing prior to the audio click the link to an interview with George Negus, who is a highly respected journalist and foreign correspondent in Australia who has interviewed Brigadeir General Janis Karpinski, this will make her side clearer and provides a written transcript identifying names.  Refer https://www.sbs.com.au/news/janis-karpinski-interview

A  reflection:

We must teach children peace education, universal values, anti-discrimination training and questioning (critical thinking) in order to prevent future abuses or deception.  Moreover, we need to train them in conflict resolution so they learn how to resolve conflict and not model on war games.  I wish for the wars to be over as they do not work.  They are utilised as is becoming clearer by vested interests who are in it for profit not peace.  I note that the US and Israel pulled out of United Nations Education, Scientific Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) this was promoting peace education around the world. It is noteworthy that they are not interested in peace.  Refer https://www.sbs.com.au/news/us-pulls-out-of-unesco-over-anti-israel-bias  The israeli lobby comes to mind.  The issue of one vote one value in a democracy comes to mind and the fact that no particular group should have disproportionate influence over government.

Conflict resolution should be mandatory for every soldier so they can be utilised as peace keepers to keep warring parties apart, to communicate effectively (raised in Janis audio) and help with environmental or climate disasters, ensure human rights and work as honorable peace keeping units to serve society and global peace. That is their foremost function not to serve corruption in any form.  So they do not need to lose jobs but be deployed in service to humanity.  They won’t be hated in this type of deployment.  The New Earth Army was one example by Colonel Jim Channon.  Violence cannot at any point teach peace, although it does strengthen the desire for peace.   In that I see its purpose.

As for illegality and projection of power in the service of cruelty and business interests (contractors), it is imperative that kangaroo courts are not set up to make it appear that justice is done without evidence or a fair hearing.  This is why the Justice system is important and the ethics and training of Judges must be impeccable.  They must be incorruptible, neutral and imbued with fairness as this is what ensures real security, rights and freedoms which are the basis of a civil society.  There have been calls for war crimes tribunals for George W. Bush and Donald Rumsfeld former CEO of Halliburton (Oil industry). The fact that the US military is aligned with the Energy Industry immediately leads to the conclusion as the reason for US warfare, this must be investigated as millions of people are being killed. Refer  https://www.alternet.org/story/44213/the_war_crimes_case_against_donald_rumsfeld  Amercian’s speak of being patriotic to their country, however it is the duty of citizens to say no to abuses in their names. There is an unquestioned allegiance to the military which has been a deliberate strategy to ensure no critiques, this is how power and control works. Moreover, countries like Australia have a duty as good friends to speak the truth to power if they know they are engaged in criminality. It matters not if it is civilians in other countries or in the home country.  Leaders values influence their citizens.

The audio interview with General Janis Karpinsky is as follows: