US general demoted in Abu Ghraib scandal
WASHINGTON - The Army said Thursday that only one senior officer will be
disciplined for failed leadership in connection with the Abu Ghraib prisoner
abuse scandal and that more than a dozen lower-ranking officers will face a
variety of punishments.
The Army also announced that it cleared three other, more senior generals of wrongdoing in the prisoner abuse cases, actions that had been previously reported but not publicly confirmed by the Army.
That means Karpinski is the only general to be disciplined thus far. The demotion means her career in the military, where officers must rise in rank or leave, is effectively over. Messages left at her home in Hilton Head, S.C., and with her attorney were not immediately returned.
The Senate Armed Services Committee has said it intends to hold hearings soon to assess whether senior Defense Department civilian and military leaders were adequately held accountable for Abu Ghraib.
The Army described its investigations as exhaustive, requiring six months of work including sworn-statement interviews with 82 people, including L. Paul Bremer, who was the top civilian authority in Iraq at the time, and Gen. John Abizaid, the commander of U.S. forces in the Middle East.
Among those cleared by the Army was Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez, who was the top Army general in Iraq at the time of the prisoner abuses. He has been faulted by some for leadership failures but has never been accused of ordering or sanctioning any abuse of prisoners.
The Army said it could not substantiate two allegations against Sanchez: dereliction in the performance of duties pertaining to detention and interrogation operations and improperly communicating interrogation policies.
Sanchez is currently the commander of 5th Corps, headquartered at Heidelberg, Germany.
Karpinski was demoted to colonel, a move that required approval by President Bush. She also received a written reprimand by Army Vice Chief of Staff Gen. Richard Cody and was formally relieved of command of the 800th Military Police Brigade on April 8, the Army said in a statement.
The Army's inspector general investigated four allegations against Karpinski: dereliction of duty, making a "material misrepresentation" to investigators, failure to obey a lawful order and shoplifting. Only the shoplifting and dereliction of duty allegations were substantiated.
The Army did not explain the specifics of the allegations, but a number of previous investigations of the Abu Ghraib prisoner abuses have accused Karpinski of failing to maintain order and prevent the abuses. She has said publicly that she was not given full authority over Abu Ghraib and that when photographs of the abuse became public she was made a scapegoat.
A U.S. government official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said Karpinski was accused of shoplifting a cosmetic item from a shop at a domestic Air Force base while she held the rank of colonel. Karpinski did not report her arrest for this misdemeanor on a later background check, the official said. In an interview with CBS News last year, Karpinski denied shoplifting.
The generals who were cleared, in addition to Sanchez, were Maj. Gen. Walter Wojdakowski, who was Sanchez's deputy in Iraq at the time, and Sanchez's intelligence chief, Maj. Gen. Barbara Fast. Both were accused of dereliction of duty, but the allegations were not substantiated.
Fast is now commander of the Army Intelligence Center and Wojdakowksi is a special assistant to the commander of U.S. Army Europe.
Col. Marc Warren, who was Sanchez's top uniformed lawyer in Iraq, also was cleared of allegations of dereliction and "professional impropriety under lawyers' ethics rules," the Army said.
Without providing their names, the Army also said Thursday that one colonel and two lieutenant colonels linked to detainee abuses in Iraq and Afghanistan were given unspecified administrative punishment. Also, two other lieutenant colonels were given letters of reprimand.
More than a dozen other lower-ranking officers, whose names were not released, also received various punishments.
_ Three majors were given letters of reprimand and one of the three also was given an unspecified administrative punishment.
_ Three captains are to be court-martialed, one captain is to be given an other-than-honorable discharge from the Army, five captains received letters of reprimand, and one was given an unspecified administrative punishment.
_ Two first lieutenants will be court-martialed, another got a letter of reprimand and one was given administrative punishment.
_ One second lieutenant was given an other-than-honorable discharge and another was given a letter of reprimand.
_ Two chief warrant officers are to be court-martialed.
The Army said other cases involving officers linked to detainee abuse are still open, but it did not say how many.