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April 30th, 2009
09:21 AM ET

Bush-era memos vindicate Abu Ghraib soldiers?

[cnn-photo-caption image= caption= "Former Brigadier General Janis Karpinski says the Bush-era interrogation memos cast doubt on convicted Abu Ghraib soldiers."]

Interrogation tactics such as waterboarding, sleep deprivation and forced nudity did not violate laws against torture when there was no intent to cause severe pain, according to the Bush-era memos on the tactics released by the Obama administration April 16th.

A Senate report declassified last week says senior Bush administration officials authorized the aggressive interrogation techniques on suspected terrorists, despite concerns from military psychologists and attorneys.

But when the Abu Ghraib prison scandal broke in 2004, it was soldiers and officers who took the blame, including the prison’s commander, former Brigadier General Janis Karpinski. She was demoted to colonel over the scandal. Karpinski joined John Roberts on CNN’s “American Morning” Thursday.

John Roberts: You read these memos, I assume, when they were released by the Obama administration. What did you think when you were reading them?

Janis Karpinski: I was shocked. And then I felt this sense of exhilaration or relief. Finally, finally, finally - I did a lot of talking back to my computer screen as I was reading them. And I immediately felt sympathy again for the soldiers who were blamed and accused and imprisoned. Remember, they were all packaged up as seven bad apples out of control on the night shift. Where were the people who were defending these decisions, these memorandums then? Why weren't they intervening? They let these soldiers go to prison for these accusations.

Roberts: You felt vindication when you read these memos? What was the thought here? That this type of behavior was authorized so why are people being prosecuted for it?

Karpinski: For five years, I was repeating the truth - the truth is easy to repeat because it's the same truth over and over again. So from the beginning, I knew that I didn't know anything about this. I knew I was being kept from having any information. And five years later to discover they had the information all along, very, very troubling; very disappointing.

Roberts: So, these memos detail a number of tactics that the Justice Department believed were allowable. But when you look at the photos that came out of Abu Ghraib and you see naked prisoners stacked up like a cord of wood with the service members laughing about it. The fellow on the box with the hood over his head and the blanket draped over him and the wires attached to his fingers to suggest to him that he could have been executed through electricity. None of that was in the memo. Did these soldiers here at Abu Ghraib go well beyond what the Justice Department said was allowable?

Karpinski: The soldiers at Abu Ghraib were receiving instructions from people who obviously had experience at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, or Bagram Air Force Base, or somewhere in between. The people who were giving them those orders or those instructions certainly had access to, if not directly to, the memorandums. They understood the permissions given to them in those memorandums. And, in some cases, you look at the memorandums, you look at the photographs that were kind of hand-drawn to support the instructions in those memorandums, then you see in living-color in a photograph taken from Abu Ghraib what those memorandums produced. So five years ago I believed, and now I really believe, from those memorandums, the administration, the people in the Pentagon, the people in the White House, the top level of our government, they were terrified because these photographs were the photographic evidence of what the memorandums were saying.

Roberts: What do you think should happen as a result of this, particularly to the soldiers who were convicted and put in jail?

Karpinski: Well, five years. Give them their lives back. Revoke the accusations. Certainly release the last soldier remaining in prison. Release him.

Roberts: Do they deserve a presidential pardon?

Karpinski: They do. And they deserve to have all of the convictions overturned. They deserve certainly to have their discharges dishonorable or bad conduct discharges overturned.

Roberts: And what about you? You were brigadier general in charge of the Abu Ghraib prison, demoted to colonel because of that. A lot of ramifications on your career, pensions, and things like that. Will you seek recompense from the Pentagon?

Karpinski: Well, I will if nothing is done automatically. But as a result of this, they owe this to each one of us. Give it back to us because these mistakes have now been exposed.

Filed under: Iraq • Military
soundoff (273 Responses)
  1. Charlie

    As a flight crew member in the military, I and my fellow crew members had to endure interrogation resistance training since we would be at risk of capture by enemy forces. What these prisoners where subjected to is no worse than what we experienced in training! Anyone who thinks they experienced "torture" doesn't understand the true meaning of the word. Ask our POW's from Vietnam and they'll educate you.

    May 1, 2009 at 10:18 am |
  2. Ozzy99

    LOAC – LAWS OF ARM COMBAT, everyone, and I mean EVERYONE is taught, told, briefed and lives by them as military personnel. GENEVA CONVENTION, apparently this Commander and her officer core at the time they were charged with this assignment DID NOT DO THIER JOBS. How can a Commander not know what is going on. NO MATTER WHAT THE SHIFT. I was in for 22 great years and I worked the dark side of the sun most of those years. I always had a Commander or Deputy around. Scheduled night shift or random inspections. They did not INSURE directives and policies were followed. Common sense and Human compasion should have raised questions. They failed in thier tasks. Shame on them, they shall live with what they did.

    May 1, 2009 at 10:17 am |
  3. Bryan

    Robert, torture can be mental or physical. Tricking someone into a fear of imminent death is indeed a form of "torture." Bob Archer is right – I call it what it is – Torture.

    The soldiers had any amount of leeway to choose to act humanely to their prisoners. The sentences seem to fit the crime. Karpinski had a duty to make sure the prisoners in her care were held securely, safely, and treated humanely. She failed. She failed to know what was going on or to implement supervision via NCO's and company grade officers who could exercise that duty. There was a command break-down of frightening proportions. I believe she got off lightly and worse could have come her way. If she continues to carp that she is blameless in this horrible scandal reinforces to me she never truly grasped the nature of command, her duty in the command she was given, and how to use it.

    May 1, 2009 at 10:16 am |
  4. Sharon

    When these kind of tactics are used to get information, it only causes the individual to resist and hate America even more. Bush and Cheney authorized this, laughed about it and now he, Cheney wishes to justify their sinful behavior.

    I say that you put Cheney, Bush and Rice on trial, render a guilty verdict and give them the same treatment that they inflicted upon others.

    Let's see how much they can be humiliated.

    May 1, 2009 at 10:15 am |
  5. Dan Allmacher

    Colonel (Retired) Karpinski's arguement is deeply flawed and is based on her own personal agenda. She failed as a leader in the United States Army when serving in Iraq. She failed to lead her soldiers, train her soldiers, and enforce disipline on her soldiers that the Adu Ghraib facility. Her soldiers were abusing detainees. They were not engaging in "enhanced interrogation techniques" or "torture." They were simply abusing detainees because they enjoyed it for their own sick personal amusement. The soldiers and junior Noncommissioned officers involved in this incident committed crimes, period. Colonel (retired) Karpinski was just incompetent and should have never made it past the rank of Captain, but her pushiment was suitable. The former adminstration's policies, however flawed, are not directly responsible for the crimes these soldiers committed (i.e. they were just flowing orders); therefore, let the verdict stand. As for Colonel (retired) Karpinski, she should have the professionalism to be quiet, but I think she showed her lack of professionalism from the very beginning of this incident.

    May 1, 2009 at 10:14 am |
  6. Ancientone51

    I agree with several posters, it hasn't and doesn't fit the definition of torture.

    But what has always distressed me is the fact that so many people who want to yell "torture is wrong" are the same ones who make the TV shows and movies so profitable.

    They boo when the bad guys torture the hero but have been known to cheer when we hang a guy out of the window by his ankles and get the info and then pull him back in. Torture is dropping geuy. Pulling him back in is enhanced interrogation techniques.

    How many of you yelling for "their" heads applauded or cheered when Harrison Ford as Indiana Jones just shot the guy with the whip?
    How many watch any TV or movie "hero" rough up the bad guy or get sexy or seductive toward an awkward type to get info? Or just go see the gore and laugh and applaud because it's entertainment? Too many movies use torture as a plot device and make hordes of money. Where is your outrage then?

    If you think it's cool in fiction then why is it we can't use these techniques that do NOT hurt/kill anyone to gain info that may well/have save(ed) lives?

    All of the "gentlemen" humiliated in those photos walked out of there under their own steam and under no lasting pain. Can we say the same things of the victims of real torture under any of the despots we have opposed?

    May 1, 2009 at 10:12 am |
  7. Hugo

    Listen to all the chickens freely clucking and voicing their indignant opinions, safe in the coop and with no worries of any sort!!

    May 1, 2009 at 10:11 am |
  8. Frank - Houston

    Hey - I've got an idea that might appease you folks. How about, the next time we catch a group of cold blooded genocidal maniacs, we take away their cookies and put them in time-out????

    I thank God every day that our country is not defended by the likes of you….

    May 1, 2009 at 10:10 am |
  9. Tim

    As a retired Colonel, I have no sympathy for Kapinsky. She compromised her integrity for career advancement and paid the price anyway. She was incompetent in providing leadership and guidance to subordinates. Plain and simple, the correct path can be the most difficult.

    Would she not feel better today knowing she refused a directive she felt was wrong? Any officer who takes their "Oath" seriously would agree...but not her.

    Having experienced deciding between career advancement and integrity, the latter is so much more rewarding in ways one could not imagine.

    May 1, 2009 at 10:10 am |
  10. Smitty113

    I love reading blind ignorance and holier then thou stupidity. Here is the question you need to ask yourself. If you KNEW of an immanent threat to your child or loved one and asking nicely for the plan was not working would you use enhanced interrogation – Now you can lie to yourself and the world and say no-because it makes you feel better BUT the truth is deep down inside you know you would. So get off your high horses or false superiority and let it be.
    Those men were not tortured – I wonder when innocent people were beheaded did they have a dr near by monitoring their pain to make sure they were ok?
    How did our country become so stupid and so ignorant as to treat people who were trying to protect us into the enemy and people who HAVE VOWED TO KILL US the innocent?
    OK, we all get it – you don't like war and you don't like having to make the tough decisions that keep us safe =- but it is amazing how you so openly enjoy the freedoms those choices have given you.

    May 1, 2009 at 10:09 am |
  11. Leigh

    Bush and Cheney are evil – lots of people have known this for a long time. I thought that during the trials of these soldiers that they were serving as pawns to their evil-doing instructors – not that what they did should have been excused – but I don't understand why only the underlings are being punished. B&C have the mindsets of criminals and serial killers. I wonder how they will fulfill their evil power-tripping fantasies now. Probably will start hurting and killing small animals again – like when they were kids. I hope these two suffer immensely at some point in their lives.

    May 1, 2009 at 10:08 am |
  12. Remy

    I'm not saying what the soldiers did was right, but who are we to judge, sitting in North America in our mostly peaceful towns and cities. We have no idea the mental torture that American soldiers in Iraq and Canadian soldiers in Afghanistan go through.
    Mistakes are made in every administration – we should learn from these mistakes and move on. It's called the past for a reason and I believe that the Obama administration is taking steps in order for history not to repeat itself, so Kudos to them.

    God Bless all armed forces that defend our freedoms and liberties.

    May 1, 2009 at 10:08 am |
  13. Brendan

    Following orders is not an excuse.
    The Nuremberg defence wasn't valid in 1947 and it isn't now.

    May 1, 2009 at 10:08 am |
  14. Cullen

    Still trying to blame someone else is she?

    Those National Guard MP's were not interrogators. They were not extracting information from those prisoners, you can clearly see from those pictures that they were having the time of their lives while humilating those prisoners.

    Abu Ghraib had nothing to do with interrogation and everything to do with a poorly trained, poorly led, poorly commanded group.

    The memos from the White House were very specific, all you critics would do well to actually read them instead of invent in your heads what you want them to say.

    May 1, 2009 at 10:06 am |
  15. Steve Consilvio

    Saying I had permission, or orders, is not a bona fid defense. That is what we put the Nazis on trial for.

    She wants to paint herself as a victim, but she was part of the crime.

    We should forgive Bush, Cheney and the soldiers. But, if we can forgive people who torture, then why can't we forgive the terrorists and insurgents, too? Everybody makes mistakes because of fear.

    An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind- Gandhi

    May 1, 2009 at 10:06 am |
  16. Live Free

    It wasn't torture...get over your unrealistic liberal bias.

    May 1, 2009 at 10:05 am |
  17. Nate

    If waterboarding is torture, then my older brother tortured me for years in the swimming pool! The agents that waterboarded terrorists (or man-made disaster person or whatever Obama calls them now) had to be waterboarded themselves. They know what it is like. If they thought that their waterboarding experience was that bad, they would absolutely refuse to perform the task!

    Talk to the Greatest Generation about torture (Bataan Death March). Talk to the people who were held captive in Vietnam (yes, even that wiley old John McCain). They experienced torture, not these terrorists in Gitmo who eat better and live better, at the taxpayers expense, than they would have in whatever desert they originally came from. I know that was politically incorrect.... from whatever dark, dank cave they originally came from.

    May 1, 2009 at 10:04 am |
  18. Erica

    I disagree that Bush/Cheney/Runsfeld made us safer as Americans. They set a brutal standard that the rest of the world will not hesitate to rise to, and they engendered more resentment and bad feelings towards America from our adversaries. The administration from 2001 through Jan. 2009 were a bunch of numnuggets, and a higher power will judge their deeds, one by one. I recall reading that, before Sept. 11, 2001, there were warnings given in White House briefings that the Bush Administration completely ignored! Being stupid might not be grounds for eternal forgiveness.

    I applaud what the Obama administration is doing to rectify this nightmare – the lapse in civil rights – that we lived through.

    May 1, 2009 at 10:04 am |
  19. Jerry

    Anybody with any sense should be sick of this worthless (Bush did it!) nonsense. Uncivilized, barbaric creatures who blow people up, cut off heads, tell us we will convert to their religion or die, deserve NO protection

    May 1, 2009 at 10:03 am |
  20. Alex

    Has anyone actually read this article? The issue presented is not whether any of what occurred at Abu Ghraib was torture or not. Some of our military soldiers went to prison because the Bush administration and senior pentagon officials manipulated the military justice system and lied to the public because no one was willing to take responsibility for having authorized the techniques used at Abu Ghraib. Although I was appalled to find out what techniques were used at Abu Ghraib, I can understand how interrogation can rapidly turn into torture, specifically when you are dealing with these types of prisoners. What I cannot understand is letting U.S. soldiers who were following orders have their lives, families, and careers ruined. For those of you not in the military, you cannot understand how difficult it would be in those circumstances to "not follow orders", essentially ending your military career, particularly since the military lives and breathes loyalty.

    This, like many others, is just another example of the criminal misuse of the entire US government by the Bush administration.

    And for the record (MC and Former Soldier), the prisonsers at Abu Ghraib were not Al-queda. They were military prisonsers captured during a wartime operation. Guerillas yes, terrorists no. Don't for one moment ever suggest that any of those people had anything to do with 9/11. All of the 9/11 terrorists were from Saudi Arabia, and were operating out of Afghanistan, not Iraq. Try reading the 9/11 commission report.

    May 1, 2009 at 10:02 am |
  21. Dave C

    You freakin pansies kill me. If it weren't for the interrogation techniques that they used and still use, we would be getting our butts handed to us by every country in the world.

    War is HELL!!! So is trying to win that war. Not for weak hearted liberals.

    Ohhhh don't do that to them. What are we supposed to do? Ask them nicely if they have any intel that we can use? and when they say no send them back to their comfy cells (can't be too hard on them now can we) and let our sodiers die?

    As long as there are people like you out there that want us to be soft on these people, we will not win a war. As long as the Taliban and other countries are not subject to the same rules that we are, we will LOSE. There is a reason we haven't won a War since WWII. You weak hearted IDIOTS.

    Sit in a circle and sing feel good songs till People like Osama Bin Laden come here and take your country over. Then you will be begging people to help.

    May 1, 2009 at 10:00 am |
  22. Robert

    Bob Archer, this comment is in response to yours – "When will everybody stop using the term “enhanced interrogation techniques” and call it what it is — torture. Pure and simple torture."

    Waterboarding is not torture. Torture is physically damaging and leaves permanent effects. Waterboarding fits neither of those criteria, in fact, we waterboard our own servicemen as part of their training. "Enhanced interrogation techniques" is the proper term. Your comment would be more accurate if you simply stated that you are a bleeding-heart liberal who hates the military and the Republican Party. Your ilk makes me sick.

    May 1, 2009 at 9:59 am |
  23. sarge anton

    Omygosh – I've just read most of the comments posted. What a stupid, naive people we have become if the comments are representative of the American public. WAKE UP ! THOSE PEOPLE IN THE PRISON WANT TO SLAUGHTER YOU AND YOUR CHILDREN. THEY WANT TO DISEMBOWEL YOU IN FRONT OF YOUR WIFE. THEY WANT TO BEHEAD YOUR CHILDREN. THEY WANT TO FLY AIRPLANES INTO HEAVILY POPULATED BUILDINGS. All our soldiers did was humilate them a bit.. GET A GRIP, YOU IDIOTS.

    May 1, 2009 at 9:59 am |
  24. Ty

    Please don't compare any of this to nuremburg. Your right about 9/11, how owuld you classify that torture.

    May 1, 2009 at 9:59 am |
  25. Bernice

    Putting aside the thought that the "old" administration is going to get away with its crimes here, there is one crime that I do not see how they are getting away with it! There were a crew of military men and a woman who got arrested, had thier lives destroyed, and went to jail all because of the lies told about them by thier higher officials! These officials lied in courts to condem these 7(?) people just so they could "get away with" yet another horrible crime to our military men and women (who die for our country and freedom daily) !! If the prez refuses to seek justice, why is it that all of them are not charged with the serious crimes done against OUR OWN MILITARY MEN AND WOMEN??? Lying, with holding evidence, committing purgery?? These are still acts that are illegal?? RIGHT?

    People, what about our military? Everyone involved in that should go to jail. Even if they knew about it alone, but did no other acts! .. Makes you an accessory!! It is a shame when we have to proect our own militay from ourselves! But, it should be done! We need to protect our own and push for charges on behalf of thes fallguys!

    May 1, 2009 at 9:58 am |
  26. Jon

    Wow, all those who condone torturing our prisoners are in turn condoning the torture of our soldiers when they are held captive by our enemy.

    You would think someone signed in as Soldier's Wife would think a little harder about this scenario.

    May 1, 2009 at 9:58 am |
  27. Jason from New Orleans

    Janis Karpinski = poster-child for the Banality of Evil...

    May 1, 2009 at 9:58 am |
  28. Mix

    My country graciously allowed me to serve 24 years in her military with pride and without prejudice. I challenge those posters, not only in regards to this article, but many more over the past few weeks, to get out and travel. Not just to the "sandbox", but countries like Tunisia, or Panama, or Romania. First hand experience would give you an insight into why previous administrations(yes, even Slick Willie's) make the decisions they do. You too would be concerned that we now have a "Rico Suave' " dealing with foreign leaders.
    As a second thought, put yourself in this position. Would you rather have a hood over your head, kneeling before your captors, knowing that 24/7 for days on end, that you may at any second be decapitated? Or would you rather be "humiliated", or have a bug thrown in your cell? Which one would YOU call torture?

    May 1, 2009 at 9:57 am |
  29. dh

    What a Joke...

    She takes no responsibility!!!

    NONE...NONE of the memos even allude to what she allowed her soldiers to do.


    May 1, 2009 at 9:56 am |
  30. Knucklehead

    It wasn't right that these soldiers took the entire blame for this. Larger heads should roll. However, they did follow illegal orders and are complicit as well. I believe their actions were known all the way to the top. However, Nuremburg taught us that following orders is not a defense. And I think it's clear from the photos they were clearly enjoying themselves.

    MC, you are assuming everyone in Abu Ghraib was a terrorist. These people were rounded up from certain neighborhoods wholesale and then tortured to see what they knew. Of course they sang like birds. If I wired you up to a battery and filled your cell with water you would tell me what I wanted to hear, too. Abu Ghraib created more terrorists than it uncovered. It appears in fighting these monsters we have become monsters ourselves.

    May 1, 2009 at 9:56 am |
  31. notnek

    I remember to well Bush saying God told him to attack Iraq. I think years from now we will still be learning of the stupidity of the Bush Chaney administration.

    May 1, 2009 at 9:56 am |
  32. FGW

    Bodine ..... the best defense is a good offense. After 911 we had two options, wait for them to come back or take the fight to them. What could have been better than "moving into the neighborhood" over there?
    We also had the "bonus" of removing the evil dictator who murdered thousands of his own people. Nope, I wasn't made a fool of... I thought it was a great plan. Don't take me wrong.... I would love to see a world free from evil the same as you. It's people like you that will hopefully find a solution.... in the mean time there is a lot of "dirty work" to be done to keep this country strong and safe.

    May 1, 2009 at 9:56 am |
  33. BD

    In the context of having in custody persons either involved in plotting 9/11 and/or plotting the next 9/11 and the need to extract information from those persons that could potentially save the lives of millions of Americans, the Bush administration was justified to explore the limits of what techniques could/should be used to extract that information. The tactics that were deemed "acceptable" may have crossed the line from "discomfort" to "torture" especially at the hands of those untrained to implement those tactics in a way that would not cross the line. None of these tactics, however, rise to the level of starvation, medical experimentaiton, mass execution etc. which is clearly torture and for which soldiers/officers in WWII invoked the "I was just following orders" defense.

    May 1, 2009 at 9:56 am |
  34. EZ

    the only thing wrong with this situation is the fact that those soldiers were put in prison for following orders, and yes when in the service you have to follow orders. there was nothing criminal about what they did.

    May 1, 2009 at 9:56 am |
  35. Tim

    Let's all get a couple things straight:
    1. The people held at Abu Graib were not "terrorists"; they had NOTHING to do with 9/11; these men (and women) were arbitrarily collected in sweeps through Bagdad and other areas of Iraq. The intent was to collect information about insurgents. Some of the individuals may have been complicit with attacks on those who had INVADED THEIR COUNTRY, but these "prisoners" were not being held for acts of terrorism.

    2. Colonel Karpinski was not allowed to review the actions of her subordinates. The soldiers that were assisting "the civilians" were under orders to not discuss their "interogations" with others. The former Brigadier General was ORDERED to not involve herself with the CIA activity.

    May 1, 2009 at 9:56 am |
  36. EZ

    you people are all liberal morons, you probably dont have a job, never served your country, and have no idea of the real world. the reality of the situation is, to get information to protect your dumb asses, torture may be neccessary. what would happen if we did not torture to gain valuable information and your children were killed by a terrorist attack that was avoided by toture tactics. you would all be on the other side of the fence hanging Bush for not doing enough to protect us. the truth is that the Clinton admin. let down the gaurd of the United States to let the 9/11 attacks happen, the Bush Admin. has protected your asses since then, wo cares how he did it or how many towl heads he waterboarded or made walk around naked. Now with the Socialist regiem in the house who has already spent more money then Bush has ten fold, will try to disgrace america by publicly humiliating the previous administration for keeping our soil safe.

    May 1, 2009 at 9:55 am |
  37. GWB

    For those who don't understand the miliyary system, If you refuse to follow orders, you get punished. It doesn't matter whether the orders were lawfull or not. You get punished. You have the opportunity to defend yourself, But tell me, would that defense hold up to the Bush/Chenney regime. It has taken 5 years for this to come out, and even now people are trying to defend the regime and blame the ones that they gave orders to. The General's interview explains that very well.
    Thank God that we have a term limit for president. Too bad someone didn't to a mental eval on Bush/Chenney before they were let in the door. P.S. Don't forget about Rumsfeld!! (All 3 of them are still out there roaming the streets)

    May 1, 2009 at 9:54 am |
  38. LM

    None of us were there. War and general feelings toward the prisoners "terrorists" does a lot of strange things to people that they would not normally do.
    Add to this... memos, SOP and Directives.. most of the troops in the field believe someone "Higher Up" had their backs.

    After all, someone suggested it, reviewed it and later approved it... they just didn't count on a bunch of kids horseing around and taking photos.... but if the "Higher Up's" are still around – they probably have that section covered now.

    As it goes to the bottom in all rights - it should go to the top.

    May 1, 2009 at 9:54 am |
  39. Shame Spencer

    Wow, the ignorance on this board...

    1st everyone in these prisons are not 'terrorists' most are just a bunch of Arabs our brave soldiers rounded up without reason/trial/evidence.

    2nd all of you saying that 'just following orders' isnt an excuse have never served in the military. Just sit back and type about it on your computers, but dont judge men and women who are in a situation you can NEVER understand. (look up the Milgrim Experiment while youre at it)

    3rd anyone saying what these men/women are doing isnt torture should try being deprived of sleep for three or four days while standing on a freaking box in total darkness. If you dont want to die after that, let me know.

    Just look up the movie "Standard Operating Procedure" on google video for everything you need to know about this topic. Its the most comprehensive documentary I've seen on the issue.

    May 1, 2009 at 9:54 am |
  40. Who will do it? I will!

    If putting wire on some prisoner's head saved American soldier's lives, or if waterboarding a terrorist saved American lives in NYC, and you can't bring yourself to do it; don't worry. There are those of us who still will.

    May 1, 2009 at 9:53 am |
  41. sarge anton

    What a bunch of morns we've turned into! These soldiers never committed torture. Parading a captured thug around naked is NOT torture. Want to know what torture is? Study the Germans, the Japanese, the Russians, the Catholic Church. Someday, if I am ever tortured, I hope all it will involve is some humiliation.

    May 1, 2009 at 9:52 am |
  42. NW

    I am a female Army officer who has served in Iraq, twice, and this woman is an embarassment. What happened to accountability within your command? She's just passing the blame. She's a grown woman and senior officer who should take accountability for the horrors that occured in her unit. Her Soldiers were out of control and she didn't have the nerve to do anything about it. Thank God for positive role models in the Army like General Petreaus and General Dunwoody!

    May 1, 2009 at 9:51 am |
  43. Bill

    I'm an active-duty military officer. Speaking for myself, and NOT in any official capacity, I think this woman is a complete and total joke. Any cadet in any of our nation's excellent military academies is well-schooled in the Geneva Conventions, the various laws that govern our conduct in war, and basic tenets of leadership. And ANY second lieutenant who graduated of any of our academies would've INSTANTLY known about everything going on in that prison by simply walking the halls and monitoring things. And any such graduate would've known enough to question what was going on and report it accordingly. This is what happens when someone with a degree in english from a little-known school in NJ is promoted well beyond her capabilities.

    May 1, 2009 at 9:50 am |
  44. Susan

    Wow, there sure are a lot of pro-torture folks out this AM. Can I ask if any of you consider yourselves Christian, and how do you reconcile your faith with this immoral behavior? You cannot treat people the way our military and CIA treat prisoners and expect anything but the same for any of our captured servicepeople. This is a sorry day for America. Bush took the American ideal of fairness and the rights of every man and skewed it to mean the rights of white Americans. That is just wrong! Of course I feel horrible about 9-11, but Iraq had nothing to do with that, and Bush knew it! Bush was also warned about an aerial attack in August of 2001, and kept chopping wood. So don't give me "Bush kept us safe" crap. We are more at risk now due to his choices and his disregard for human many soldiers have died in his senseless war? More than were killed on 9-11.
    So keep up your "24" mentality, but deep down, you either are a moral person or no better than the terrorists you hate so much. And we are either a moral country who will not tolerate war criminality, or we are no better than the Taliban.

    May 1, 2009 at 9:50 am |
  45. James

    rawr, all the lefties are rallying their battle cry, get Bush, get Chaney, omg torture. You people are pathetic at best.

    May 1, 2009 at 9:50 am |
  46. Trae

    BS. The people under her command went WAY beyond what was authorized by the military, and yes, the administration.

    And for those bleeding hearts that decry "torture" – be aware that the OBAMA administration has left the door open for the very same "torture" techniques that the Bush administration used. However, they claim that it would have to be authorized by committee. Typical doublespeak from ANY administration – one thing is said for the cameras and another is held back for actual use.

    May 1, 2009 at 9:49 am |
  47. M. Freeman

    Frankly speaking from my point of view, It made me ashamed
    to see Americans acting so deplorably. Hopefully that General was dishonorably discharged and those soldiers who committed this
    atrocity were too.

    May 1, 2009 at 9:48 am |
  48. JB Olive

    Torture is reading comments by these jerks that try to justify our past use of waterboarding and other "enhanced interrogation techniques". The United States is a nation of laws and we must abide by them or deem ourselves just as corrupt as those that would do us harm. If we do not hold ourselves accountable, we certainly can't expect accountability from others.

    May 1, 2009 at 9:47 am |
  49. Dave

    " The Nuremberg Trials established that soldiers have an obligation to object to immoral or illegal orders. “They were following orders” isn’t a valid defense. Karpinski is pathetic; she’s certainly aware of this. "

    You can claim this all you want, but when the country is in a state of war, direct disobeys can get you shot/imprisoned, maybe the soldiers listened so they wouldnt face recourse at the time. Its not as easy as you think to say oh this isnt right when ur int he military, they dont train you to question.

    May 1, 2009 at 9:47 am |
  50. Rodger

    I served 9 years in the U.S. Navy, the last three assigned to the military prison in Philadelphia as a corrections officer (a multi-service facility with Army, Air Force, and Navy staff and inmates). The Colonel is trying to blur the facts. The soldiers at her command were not convicted for actions taken in accordance with these memos – or interrogation at all. They were convicted of mistreatment of prisoners for sadistic acts outside of any interrogation.

    And for those who say they were "just following orders" – we didn't accept this excuse from Nazis, we shouldn't accept it from our own troops. And, contrary to some of these posts, US milatary personnel CAN disobey an unlawful order. In fact, there's an affirmative obligation to refuse an unlawful order that will result in bodily harm to another.
    She got off easy – and so did those convicted.

    May 1, 2009 at 9:46 am |
  51. HR

    After reading these comments, I am proud to see that many people disagree with the torture methods that wouldn't even be used on animals today. When people toruture people in such a way, you stoop to their level, you become them. So just as we are, the leading nation we should have not let this happen. Everyone who led out these commands and carried out the commands should be punished, inlcuding the adminstration officials who authoirzed them. They are all guilty.

    May 1, 2009 at 9:43 am |
  52. Ex-Sgt(MI)


    Regarding your comment on not caring about what happens to detainees. 1) The folks at AbuGraib were not the same folks who did 9-11. 2) Regardless, WE are a nation of laws. We have laws and orders for how WE treat OUR prisoners. When a soldier fails to obey those laws, they are criminals under OUR code and officer who allows or orders such behavior is also a criminal under OUR codes.

    Your statement indicates that terrorists can, by attacking us, not only kill a few thousand of us and knock down buildings, but can in the same act knock down our common decentcy and rule of law. Somewhere in a cave somewhere, your comment has brought a smile to the face of a terrorist who sees victory in forcing us to abandon OUR code of behavior. Good job.

    May 1, 2009 at 9:43 am |
  53. Iraq War Vet

    You freakin arm chair soldiers need to wake up and smell the cordite. These "innocent prisoners" were terrorists. One commenter mention that "we don’t want them pointin’ at our prisoners and muttering ‘Abu Ghraib." Are you naive or just stupid? What do you think terrorists have done to our guys that have been captured? They cut their freakin heads off, mutilate their bodies while yelling Allah Akbar, like god somehow would approve. I have absolutely ZERO sympathy for these terrorists. Calling them "prisoners is almost laughable". Heaven forbid that some dumb privates humiliated them by making them pose naked. Was it stupid, sure, b/c there was no intelligence gathering from that, but criminal, please. If any one of you were captured by these terrorists then you would beg them to be treated in such a way, while gurgling on your own blood as they sliced your carotids. Bush and Cheney were idiots, yes, but I don't feel the slightest bit of remorse for waterboarding these killers, making them SIMULATE drowning in an effort to save more American lives. These people will do anything to ensure our destruction, they don't play by the same rules we do, and anyone that says that "we as americans are above that" have never seen their buddies blown up by these madmen. You live in your comfy house and watch tv and sit back and while we(Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Marines) see what you don't on CNN. We live with these scars that these people try to inflict upon us so you can continue to sit at Starbucks and second guess what you see on some photos and with your pretentious attitudes act like you are hurt because these stupid pranks have somehow harmed America's standing. We need to do whatever is necessary to these crazy SOB's so that they never can hit us at home again. Do I agree with the general that she was innocent of this, no. She knew what was going on, and she is trying to save face and get her star back. But it never deserved to be taken away in the first place for these folks being stupid.

    May 1, 2009 at 9:42 am |
  54. Frank Workman

    She was also demoted for shoplifting, but I guess if CNN mentions that she loses a little credibility. I could see how they would want to gloss over that.

    May 1, 2009 at 9:41 am |
  55. Bud

    Am I the only one here that thinks these soldiers should have said "No Sir, I can not follow that order. I believe it is an ILLEGAL ORDER, in voilation of article 3 of the 1949 Geneva Convention, and therefore I can not follow it." ??? They would have been arrested for failing to follow orders, and been court martialed, BUT they would have been in a very defendable position, both legaly, moraly, and politicaly. The UCMJ says that if you knowingly follow an illegal order you are just as guilty as those who gave the order. Sorry guys, they paid the price, BUT EVERYONE IN THAT CHAIN OF COMMAND ALL THE WAY UP TO BUSH should be made to answer for this!!! Not just the guys who carried out the orders! THAT INCLUDES THOSE IN THE CIA!!!

    May 1, 2009 at 9:41 am |
  56. Achai Kamau

    We have laws in this country. Revenge is not justice. Nor is there any evidence to conclude that any of the prisoners held at Abu Ghraib were in any way responsible for 9/11, especially given that the Bush Administration, in the seven years since 9/11, could not provide an ounce of proof that Iraq was a threat to the security of the United States or was working with terrorists. It may be comfortable to lump everyone in the Middle East into the category of "bad guys" and assume that the US can do no evil, but the world is much more complicated.

    Nor do these memos vindicate anyone. It is long established that the excuse of "just following orders" is insufficient. War Crimes are still War Crimes even when the US is responsible, even if many Americans are too blinded by pride and ignorance to admit it. The neoconservative ideology did more to degrade and weaken this nation than any outside force – terrorism, communism, Nazism, etc. – ever could.

    May 1, 2009 at 9:39 am |
  57. RC

    In my opinion the Abu Ghraib scandal sounds like a standard CIA operation. This would include all the CIA and contractor personell who actually carried out the torture interrogations. I am sure they all have a copy of their orders to vindicate their actions and to be brought out if the need ever arises.
    Besides having the authority to not tell anyone what they were doing, taking control over prison guards, doing their form of perverted interrogation and then shredding incriminating evidence just about sums it up for a successful operation.
    This is a coverup that goes all the way to the commander in chief. It is even worse that President Bush and his senior officials, who are responciple for this fiasco, would let the prison guards and a Brigadier General take the rap.
    How low can you sink before you take responsibility for what you do. Some of these guards may still be in prison and because nothing was said in their defence by these officials, these officials should be held responsible for sending them there.
    Torture has got to be one of the worst criminal offences there is. We have thousands of inmates in prison for years for minor non-violent offences. Not to say they arent guilty but thats not even close to torture.
    Torture is still spelled the same was as it was during WW2 and Viet-Nam. A memo doesn't change that.

    May 1, 2009 at 9:38 am |
  58. sanjiro

    Are you kidding me? Have any of you ever seen what takes place in war? Have you ever dealt with a mentality that thinks life means nothing? That it is ok to kill innocent men, women & children. That you take out not only the infidels but everyone else around them innocent or not. Have you ever been under that stress? Have you ever had to to worry that the child walking up to you could be loaded with enough explosives and shrapnel to take out 60 people? Or that a mentally handicapped woman was wearing a vest under her garment?

    In Somalia the militia in 1991 used women and children to hide behind so they could shoot at our soldiers and not be shot back. This is how our niceties are used against us. They would literally hide behind the women and shoot from behind them knowing that an American soldier would not fire at the so called innocent women.

    When you are dealing with the mentalities that our soldiers are dealing with out there to protect all you whining idiots here in comfort of your warm comfy homes, you have to do things that we cannot imagine to stay alive and keep this country safe. These people are not using any tactics that aren't used on our own soldiers as we go through S.E.R.E. (Survival, evasion, Resistance, and escape) training. They don't actually torture but give the impression of torture to create fear, psychologically. There is no pain, permanent injury, or damage. When you are trying to obtain information from anyone you use tacticts that you wouldn't use on people you care about. You don't think the police, or other Law Enforcement agencies use Psychological techniques? Good cop, bad cop, etc.... How naive. This is the truly sad part, the state of our country that haven't a clue what has to be done to protect you. By the way.... when was the last time we had a 9/11? Case and point!!

    May 1, 2009 at 9:38 am |
  59. Bleeding Hearts SUCK!!!

    ALL of you poor, stupid bleeding hearts are disgusting and you should leave this country, immediately. "call it was it is,,, torture." WHAT DO YOU IDIOTS THINK THESE PIECES OF CRAP DO TO OUR SOLDIERS WHEN THEY ARE CAUGHT??? If torturing one of these pieces of crap (and they are not human) save just one single American Solider, I saw string him up, waterboard him, hook him up to a nuclear power plant and turn on the juice.
    And for ALL you dipholes that are still blaming Bush for everything... GET A LIFE ALREADY and STOP LIVING IN THE PAST. GET OVER IT and MOVE ON YOU MORONS!!!!!!

    May 1, 2009 at 9:37 am |
  60. Christian LoGrasso

    I'd love to just for 5 minutes, rewind the clock on all of you back to just after the 9-11 attacks, and say 'we captured some of them – they won't talk – there are probably more attacks planned – what do you think we should do?'
    This is really not a wise argument. Its costly for taxpayers, and really the ONLY gain is for the Democratic party to chalk it up as a petty political victory, just as was the case when the Republicans threw Clinton under the bus for lying on the stand (rightfully so).
    Extreme circumstances call for extreme measures. Thank you Mr. Bush and Mr. Cheney for doing what it takes. We are all safe and continue to be.

    May 1, 2009 at 9:37 am |
  61. An Extremist just because I'm Right

    I find the timeline of these comments most interesting. It appears most posts against the former administration and their fruitful interrogation techniques come from people who stay up very late or don't sleep at all.....either smoking something they want the current administration to legalize or sipping from the community kool-aid jar. Of course some could come from the left coast where folks are three hours behind, but then again, they're always behind. I issue the proverbial tripple-dog-dare to all of you. I dare you to watch one of the readily available beheading videos. Don't be a lilly-livered, squealing puss. Take the dare. Be sure to turn up the volume. Then dare imagaine it is happening to the person most close to you. For maximum effect, photoshop the head of your most dearest onto the video and watch it daily. If, after a week, you haven't decided you would do whatever it takes to prevent such attrocities from happening to your loved comes the triple-dog-dare.....join the military and follow the path of "change from the inside." I encourage you to volunteer for duty in Afghanistan. The common sense gene pool would appreciate your short-lived service.

    May 1, 2009 at 9:36 am |
  62. Steven

    I think we really need to check the definition of torture. The problem here is that too many people have different definition of torture. Torture is defined in the DICTIONARY as "the act of inflicting excruciating pain, as punishment or revenge, as a means of getting a confession or information, or for sheer cruelty." None of these "torture" techniques does that! Torture is beating a person, flogging them, shocking them, all other sorts of painful things. Causing someone to be uncomfortable (confinement in a small area, forced to stand for a long time, etc.), ....not torture. At least not by the definition the English language has decided to give that word. If that were the case, the airlines should all be put away for forcing people to sit in those seats.

    When somebody has to be put in the hospital, or treated by medics after their interrogation, it's torture. If not.....probably not torture.

    May 1, 2009 at 9:35 am |
  63. Ex-Sgt(MI)

    Ok. I was an Intelligence Analyst in the Army for eight years, and I have rarely been so disgusted by a member of MY Army as I am with this ex-General.

    Since when did a MEMO counteract the Military Orders embodied in the Field Manuals? It is also important to remember that she and her subordinates had no knowledge of these at the time and thus cannot point to them for vindication. Their actions were criminal in terms of having and both Mens Rea and Actus Reus (wrong act and wrong motive). Had an enemy treated our soldiers with similar brutality , we would have hanged him or her (and have in the past).

    Her argument boils down to: Behavior strictly against army regulations (see manual on Law of Land Warfare FM27-10), and simple common military decency, which she tolerated to occur under her command is somehow better now that she discovers that others were doing it. This is the same argument made by every criminal camp guard and commandant from Andersonville, to Stallag 7, to the Hanoi Hilton. We hanged the commandant of Andersonville and dozens of SS and Wehrmacht guards and commandants for similar behavior.

    She is lucky she was only demoted and disgraced. Her subordinates were imprisoned. I am sickened by this sort of statement.

    May 1, 2009 at 9:35 am |
  64. E.D. Wilson

    While the techniques approved at the highest levels of government are shameful and regretful, all should remember that Karpinski was in fact negligent in not insuring soldiers under her command were properly supervised. Further, no one in the military, regardless of rank, is required to carry out an order that is illegal, immoral or life threatening. She, along with other very senior military commanders, had an ethical responsibility here – instead, if we are to believe her account, set aside their moral beliefs and carried out the orders rather than refuse or resign in protest. Had a few senior officers resigned rather than "toe the party line" there would have been immediate scrutiny on the situation and it would have been exposed before it ever went that far [Abu Ghraib]. It is disengenuous to cry foul when she, if she is of such high character now, to abdicate any responsibility.
    I retired rather than continue to follow the orders of an administration that I believed had no moral character in their methods of waging "war."

    May 1, 2009 at 9:31 am |
  65. charles

    Let me tell you about torture: drilling holes in a prisoner's head, amputating limbs, suicide bombers, and of course, the jihadists' all-time favorite: beheading. Making a prisoner uncomfortable is not torture. And comparing Bush to Hitler and Nazis is pathetically sophmoric. You might feel good and righteous doing it, but you're participating in hysteria and hyperbole. Pretty much what a lynch mob does.

    May 1, 2009 at 9:31 am |
  66. JJ

    I think the argument could be made that the soldiers in Abu Ghraib did what they did to humiliate the prisoners rather than obtain information from them. I guess it's the difference between torture for information and torture for its own sake.

    May 1, 2009 at 9:31 am |
  67. Not Left or Right but Forward

    First: CNN's headline says "General: Memos Vindicate..." This woman was demoted – as a demoted General Officer, she is not entitled to, nor should she be referred to as "General."

    Second: Abu Ghraib was a black mark on the Unites States military – at the VERY least, it represented a poor image of the United States to the world – but more importantly, it provided teh enemy with fuel for massive recruitment of insurgents and allies worldwide.

    Thirdly: The contention that the people involved did not "intend to inflict pain" is about as stupid an assessment as saying someone who shoots someone in the head didn't intend for them to die. It implies that the people involved are so ignorant that they think people won't feel any pain under these circumstances – which is insulting to either the people of whom such an implicatiion is made or those who are expected to swallow such nonsense – actually both.

    Had a real leader been in charge at the time these allocations came out and were confirmed, the entire chain of command would have been held accountable, and those responsible for developing this approach to intelligence gathering would be run out of the organization – from top to the bottom. But, because Bush/Cheney and Rumsfeld all were on board, that would never happen. This woman was probably promoted to make brownie points with women in the Service and the press, and NEVER should have been in a position of judgement, based on her clearly limited ability to process reality and act accordingly. She ought to have been demoted to a Second Lieutenant and her pension adjusted accordingly, with no opportunity for promotion. She is a blemish, a boil on the officer corps, and a disgrace to the Military men and women who serve tehir country honorably.

    May 1, 2009 at 9:31 am |
  68. The Truth

    Those soldiers were not doing it to interrogate them they were doing it for their own amusement. The intent makes it a big difference. Its like saying hitting someone for your amusement is the same as hitting someone in defense. Those guards were not trained to conduct interrogations and were not authorized to do so either. All they were supposed to do is in their job title, guard. Just even trying to defend their actions she is not worthy of the title of soldier, let alone a general.

    May 1, 2009 at 9:30 am |
  69. 76Stinger

    As a former career military member and aircrew, I attended several survival schools including SERE, Survival, Evasion, Resistance, and Escape. During SERE, we were subjected to "torture" techniques that had been toned down to give us experience in what we might encounter if ever captured in the line of duty. It was scary and I must say, effective. It served the purpose for which it was intended – obtain information that the "enemy" might have. Waterboarding, soft-cell / hard-cell interrogation, isolation, physical and mental "tortures" were all part of the curriculum. I have to admit it wasn't pleasant at the time but it was effective and I saw the reasoning for its' use.

    Now compare the training value of those techniques and the now real-world scenarios and I am in support of any and all of those techniques. We are at WAR with terrorists all over the world and believe wholeheartedly that we need to be aggressive in our efforts to thrwart and prevent terrorist activity directed against the US. The techniques may seem extreme but compare them to what these same terrorists have done to captured US and Allied forces. How many "beheadings" has the US been accused of? How many soldiers have we killed and then drug their bodies through the streets?

    For all these know-it-alls who are calling for Bush and Cheney to be tried as war criminals – PLEASE – get a life! In that I may not always agree with a course of action that our government and its' leaders take, I still support it. I do not now nor will I ever believe that any such actions are taken by a "criminal" mind and without intelligence and purpose. Yes, the intelligence is not always right, but that is another story.

    We as Americans need to stand up for our country and its' leaders – not try to tear it apart by slanderous words and deeds. We have already lost so much integrity because of all these supposed "war crimes." Why must we pour salt in the wounds?

    Support your country or get out. Go wrap a towel around your head, eat goat cheese, and live in a cave if you can't stand up for your country.

    A 20+ Year American Serviceman – Retired and Proud

    May 1, 2009 at 9:30 am |
  70. evan

    I cannot believe that anyone inside of our borders would really side basically with terrorist muslim extremists over our own past president and cabinet. I understand peoples dislike for Bush but come on, we strapped a guy to a board put a towel on his face and poured water on him. Now lets look at the other side, they took planes and crashed them into private and public buildings inside our borders, killing thousands of people and then claiming that they were sent by some sort of god to do it. Its ridiculous that people consider waterboarding torture, there isnt physical harm done, yes it is tramatizing but do you not think that standing in the twin towers watching a plane flying at you wasnt traumatizing? I think that they need to release the rest of the memos, the ones which show that Nancy Pelosi and others were in meetings about these interrogation techniques and that they approved or at least did not dissapprove of any of them. The other part that should be released is what information we were able to extract from these TERRORISTS. Maybe release some of the information about the planned "second wave", the plan that was to fly planes into the talleest building in LA.

    May 1, 2009 at 9:29 am |
  71. Task

    It's pretty freaking weak that this woman is expecting sympathy. This crap happened when SHE was in charge of that prison. It's HER JOB to know what's going on there. If these soldiers got orders from above then maybe their charges should be dropped, but she let it happen and she didn't have any special orders to fall back on.

    May 1, 2009 at 9:29 am |
  72. KevinB

    Opinions can be such crap at times – muddled with political bias. Read JoelRothschild's post. Complete garbage with no clarity of mind. Stuck on a distracting issue while wanting to ignore the larger picture... it is sickening that ignorance is so pervasive in this country. All of these individual deserve to have their convictions overturned including Karpinski. Read the ignorance of MC, Joelrothschild, and Jon (who beleives the interogations prevented attacks), CPT (who believes in the Nixon ethos of "if the president does it it is legal)... I am just glad these ignorant far right dittoheads are now being marginalized to the edges of political discourse. Thankfully we now have competence in Presidency ability to lead vs. the 8 years of crazy that we just experienced.

    May 1, 2009 at 9:28 am |
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