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Rumsfeld: War Crimes Charges
November 11, 2006 7:09 PM   Subscribe

Donald Rumsfeld: The War Crimes Case and TIME: A lawsuit to be filed on Nov. 14th in Germany will seek a criminal prosecution of the outgoing Defense Secretary and other U.S. officials for their alleged role in abuses at Abu Ghraib and Gitmo. Lawyers for the plaintiffs say that one of the witnesses who will testify on their behalf is former Brig. Gen. Janis Karpinski, the one-time commander of all U.S. military prisons in Iraq. Karpinski… has issued a written statement to accompany the legal filing, which says, in part: “It was clear the knowledge and responsibility [for what happened at Abu Ghraib] goes all the way to the top of the chain of command to the Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld ”. . . . Rumsfeld's resignation, they say, means that the former Defense Secretary will lose the legal immunity usually accorded high government officials. Previously: Chain of Command, (May 9, 2004); Interview with Abu Ghraib general, (November 8, 2005)
posted by spock (67 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite

 
For the record, several comments very late in the long, long (288 comments) "Rumsfeld Resigns" post pointed to this story. I believe that it deserves separate discussion.
posted by spock at 7:09 PM on November 11, 2006


Rumsfeld will obviously never do any time, but like Kissinger, he'll go down in history as one of the great incompetents. Not being able to freely travel in many parts of the civilized world will help in this regard.
posted by bardic at 7:18 PM on November 11, 2006


You do know that this has almost zero chance of going through the German courts, never mind anything else...
posted by SweetJesus at 7:19 PM on November 11, 2006


Yeah, um, good luck with that guys.
posted by keswick at 7:19 PM on November 11, 2006


I think it's pretty unlikely that the German government will pursue charges against Rumsfeld, and there's exactly zero chance that our government would cooperate. Karpinski's involvement is intriguing, though.

I suppose the BND could just grab him off a streetcorner, fly him to an undisclosed Eastern European country, and "interrogate" a confession out of him.
posted by EarBucket at 7:22 PM on November 11, 2006


Well, if it can get to the ICC...
posted by blacklite at 7:23 PM on November 11, 2006


So if he ever boards a German airline in a foreign country, they can arrest him and send him to prison, and in his defense he can explain why we did the same thing to Timothy Leary.
posted by Brian B. at 7:25 PM on November 11, 2006


This lawsuit is important whether Rummy and his fascist buddies stand trial or not but one can hope.
posted by chance at 7:31 PM on November 11, 2006


Let me try an intelligent comment:

Germany could let this go through their court system to the point where Rumsfeld's extradition is requested, but America will decline; no change. Or, the plaintiffs could take all of their collected documents and get the assistance of a State Party to the Treaty of the International Criminal Court -- the Office of the Prosecutor of the ICC may only investigate a crime when requested to by the UN Security Council or by a State Party, so some bored country would have to petition the ICC to take Rumsfeld down.

Even if one of these farfetched scenarios were to occur, it would just look like an international organization tampering in the affairs of a sovereign nation. I support the ICC, I think it is a good idea, but it will never be useful against a (or the) superpower. The US has no international credibility to lose, and the UN and ICC have no coherent ability to enforce any demands they might make, even if they were inclined to make them, which they aren't, beyond the usual token requests.

Rumsfeld may or may not be directly complicit in the torture of one or more prisoners of the American military/intelligence forces, but what can we do? "We," in this case, being non-Americans. We can yell, we can write letters, we can put up signs, we can post on the internet, but really, if the director of the armed forces of a democratic country decides to enact certain policies that we find distasteful, all we have to remedy that is education, publicity, and rhetoric. We have to convince the people of America that this is not something they want their government to do.

In large part, most Americans seem to think it isn't something they want their government to do, and Rumsfeld no longer has any power. So, you know.

I'm pretty sure we're just going to have to get over it.
posted by blacklite at 7:34 PM on November 11, 2006 [2 favorites]


A summary of some of the salient points that he may have to answer for to the ICC. Interesting also are Rumsfeld's own comments on the concepts behind the charges that would soon be leveled against under "well-established principle of universal jurisdiction."

As we strengthen institutions that allow free nations to cooperate on a multilateral basis, we must take care not to damage the core principle that under-girds the international system -- the principle of state sovereignty.

Today, we see respect for states' sovereignty eroding. We see it, in my view, in the International Criminal Court's claim of authority to try the citizens of countries that have not consented to ICC jurisdiction.

We see it in the new Belgian law purporting to give Belgian courts "universal jurisdiction" over alleged war crimes anywhere in the world. Already charges have been filed against General Tommy Franks under this dangerous law, which has turned Belgium's legal system into a platform for, what I believe will prove to be, divisive, politicized lawsuits against officials of her NATO allies. There are, I might add, suits also pending against President George Herbert Walker Bush, Vice President Cheney, Secretary of State Colin Powell, and others. I suppose if George Marshall were alive there would be suits against George Marshall in the Belgian courts. These trends are dangerous, not simply because they threaten to disrupt cooperation between friends and allies, but also because the erosion of respect for states sovereignty absolves states of their responsibilities to deal with problems within their borders.

Sovereignty is a two-way street -- it implies rights and also responsibilities, it seems to me. Those who would strip away the sovereign rights of nations have to recognize that in the process they may also strip away states of sovereign responsibilities.

Too often, the erosion of sovereignty gives states an excuse to take the easy-way-out -- by blaming globalization, or punting problems to supra-national bodies, instead of taking responsibility for problems that originate from poor national governance. A case in point is the threat of terrorism. Terrorists are parasites who seek out weak and struggling nations to serve as hosts. As states have appeared weaker, terrorists have moved in -- hiding in ungoverned areas, using them as bases from which to launch attacks on innocent men, women, and children.

It's my view that states have a responsibility to govern areas within their borders. And we need to be able to hold states accountable for their performance. Those who want to push sovereignty away can't have it both ways: either states are responsible for the governance of their countries or they're not.

posted by spock at 7:38 PM on November 11, 2006


You know, the precident set by the Saddam conviction is pretty bad for Rumsfeild et. al, because the spesific charges that Saddam was convinced on revolved around civilian casualties in the suppression of an insurrection. If it's illegal to kill civilians while fighting insurgents it's very likely that Rumsfeild could be liable for innocents killed in places like Fallujah. In Iraq.

But it's not like Rumsfeild would really feel comfortable wondering around Iraq anyway, I imagine.
posted by Paris Hilton at 7:42 PM on November 11, 2006


But...but...he's on the side of good.
posted by jimmythefish at 7:43 PM on November 11, 2006


My guess, amberglow: if the suit is successful in kicking off a criminal investigation and prosecution, they'll end up demanding Rummy's presence in court and stand pat.

My hope: by that time, we will have rescinded the Military Commissions Act and our own investigations and prosecutions will be in full swing, rendering the German actions moot.
posted by taosbat
posted by taosbat at 7:52 PM on November 11, 2006


Karpinski's involvement is intriguing, though.

It's payback for being made the scapegoat for Rummy's crimes.
posted by caddis at 8:02 PM on November 11, 2006


Certainly, but I think it adds a layer of legitimacy to the proceedings. It's harder to dismiss it as just a bunch of anti-war commie hippies.
posted by EarBucket at 8:04 PM on November 11, 2006


"In large part, most Americans seem to think it isn't something they want their government to do, and Rumsfeld no longer has any power"

Yeah, that can change.

Some well reasoned thoughts though, blacklite (et.al)

What concerns me is the potential damage to the country. Resistance to this, political in-fighting, etc. Rummy is a powerful man to whom favors are owed. I disagree that this task is impossible. Unlikely, perhaps, but it must be done well to limit the - admittedly already egregious, albeit largely unpercieved - damage done to the United States.
It concerns me that men of conscience may, in seeking to avoid doing further harm, rationalize not acting.
I'm not saying 'Fiat iustitia et pereat mundus' (let justice be done though the world perish) - as much as I agree with it, it's not applicable here.
We're not the Holy Roman Empire. Charlemagne was great, but we are the United States. We're supposed to stand for truth and justice and liberty (and yes, we fail miserably, or even act contrary sometimes).
And prosecuting Rumsfeld - even in the attempt - would go a long way to restoring that stance.
I'd rather fail in the pursuit of truth and justice than succeed in one more practical. Or indeed, not try for fear of causing damage.
posted by Smedleyman at 8:16 PM on November 11, 2006


Sovereignty is a two-way street -- it implies rights and also responsibilities, it seems to me. Those who would strip away the sovereign rights of nations have to recognize that in the process they may also strip away states of sovereign responsibilities.

Rummy said this?

Jesus wept and Moses slept.

Does he not see the steely fist or irony clawing it's way out of his own huge ass?

EXcuse me. EX-secretary Rumsfeld? Yes, Sir. May I remind you of this place that used to be A FUCKING SOVEREIGN NATION… called IRAQ! Y’know. The place that is a Road Warrior living HELL-on-Earth thanks to you?

Grrr. Anyhoo. Yeh. Nothing will come of this I am afraid.
posted by tkchrist at 8:28 PM on November 11, 2006


Personally, I'd love to see Rumsfeld et al get a fair, international trial. Fairer than the one he arranged for Saddam, because, you know, I'm a civilized lefty.
posted by QIbHom at 8:35 PM on November 11, 2006


Question:

Here's something I've been wondering, for anyone who might know. It seems unlikely that Rumsfeld or Bush will impeached or tried for anything, in the US or by any international court. Nor, due the the veto power of the US, can the UN Security council pass a resolution condemning the Bush admins action as a war crime, or crime against humanity.

But what about the UN's General Assembly? That body, it seems to me, could pass a resolution condemning the US action in Iraq as illegal--the US has no veto power there. And while the security council would never act on such a resolution, a GA condemnation of the US invasion would at least record for posterity a world judgment on this sort of war (something I consider even more important than the fate of individual war criminals). I wonder whether there are precedents for this sort of thing in the GA, and what considerations make this either a good idea or an impossiblity.

Can anyone provide some insight?
posted by washburn at 9:19 PM on November 11, 2006


washburn: The General Assembly can and has condenmed any number of things in the two or three thousand resolutions it has passed since its creation. It would be fine, it would probably pass, there would be abstentions, and whoever the US Ambassador to the UN is at the time (it would take a while, so probably not Bolton anymore, as he'll be out once Congress rejects his appointment) will make a face, and it'll be a day of news, an opportunity for right-wing people to bitch about external interference, left-wing people to shake their fists in impotent rage, and nothing would happen.
posted by blacklite at 10:23 PM on November 11, 2006


Paris Hilton: "...charges that Saddam was convinced (convicted) on revolved around civilian casualties in the suppression of an insurrection". Nice terribly egregious spinning of the facts. I'm sure you meant, "charges that Saddam was convicted on revolved around civilian murder." That is a tad more accurate.
posted by markulus at 11:40 PM on November 11, 2006


Anyone know the EU extradition rules? I was thinking "okay, maybe he won't be able to step foot in Germany with the extradition request live" but perhaps it's worse nowadays?
posted by VulcanMike at 11:55 PM on November 11, 2006


Maybe K-Fed will console D-Rum as they both get over their post-breakup blues.
posted by Effigy2000 at 12:02 AM on November 12, 2006


While we are dreaming - it is January 2008 and you-know-who becomes a private citizen. Imagine a process server handing him a subpoena to appear in the same court that convicted Rummy...
posted by Cranberry at 12:28 AM on November 12, 2006


The only interesting thing about Karpinski's involvement in any German prosecution is what kind of deal she cut to save her own skin (again), at the expense of others, and what kind of a book deal she's getting as a result (again). How a person of Karpinski's self-serving, opportunistic stripe ever became a general officer of the U.S. Army should be a topic of investigation by the U.S. Congress that commissioned her, and remains an indictment of the promotional system itself.
posted by paulsc at 1:00 AM on November 12, 2006


I have no idea whether a trial of Rumsfeld could really happen. But this man turned my country, the Land of the Free, into a nation of torturers. I'd love to see him punished, held up by his own countrymen and said "we reject you".
posted by Nelson at 1:12 AM on November 12, 2006


we will have rescinded the Military Commissions Act and our own investigations and prosecutions will be in full swing

you forgot free health care and education for everybody, the abolition of the death penalty, and free PS3s FedEx'd to every man woman and child in the United States
posted by matteo at 1:24 AM on November 12, 2006


How is Karpinski self-serving? She was made a scapegoat. Turnabout being fair play and all that.
posted by bardic at 2:26 AM on November 12, 2006


paulsc: How a person of [Rumsfeld]'s self-serving, opportunistic stripe ever became a general [Administrator] of the U.S. Army should be a topic of investigation by the U.S. Congress...

ibid. The question that wraps around and interrogates itself.
posted by vhsiv at 2:28 AM on November 12, 2006


paulsc, that doesn't match well with the little I know of Karpinski. I got the impression that she resisted torture orders and spoke out about them, and was treated most viciously for it.

From my perspective, someone who's strongly opposed to Rumsfeld gets at least a few points in the plus column by default. What are your sources for the very negative opinion you have?

I've seen you post extraordinarily intelligent things over on ask.mefi, and I'm genuinely curious why you sound so much like Limbaugh or Hannity on this issue. Your attacks are personal rather than substantive, which confuses me a great deal. Were it most other people, I'd likely dismiss it completely... but I've never seen you post anything that wasn't well thought-out.

So, if you drop in again, I'd be interested to know why you think so little of her.
posted by Malor at 2:58 AM on November 12, 2006


you forgot free health care and education for everybody, the abolition of the death penalty, and free PS3s FedEx'd to every man woman and child in the United States

Sheesh, talk about ridiculous. UPS Ground would be fine.
posted by Malor at 3:00 AM on November 12, 2006


But...but...he's on the side of good.

"Are we the baddies?"
posted by PinkStainlessTail at 3:03 AM on November 12, 2006


bardic: "... like Kissinger, he'll go down in history as one of the great incompetents. "

Kissinger didn't go down in history as an incompetent, but as a mass murderer and human rights abuser. As will Rumsfeld.
posted by signal at 5:44 AM on November 12, 2006


Kissinger didn't go down in history as an incompetent, but as a mass murderer and human rights abuser. As will Rumsfeld.

A mass murderer and human rights abuser, and yet incompetent as well. That could be Rummy's particular contribution to history.
posted by flug at 6:03 AM on November 12, 2006


and there's exactly zero chance that our government would cooperate.
posted by EarBucket at 7:22 PM


No. There is a strong chance.

Its called the US Dollar. And its the way oil is traded. *IF* the rest of the trading world were to say 'Do this, that and the other thing otherwise we won't accept your Dollar as being worthwhile for trade', the speed of how quickly this, that and the other thing would be done would be amazing.

I'd guess there is less chance of the whole world getting together and saying "your money is no good", but its about the only path I can see the leadership class tossing an ex-member of the leadership class under the wheels of the bus.
posted by rough ashlar at 6:24 AM on November 12, 2006


A mass murderer and human rights abuser, and yet incompetent as well. That could be Rummy's particular contribution to history.
posted by flug at 6:03 AM PST


What about rumsfeld disease?
posted by rough ashlar at 6:29 AM on November 12, 2006


I believe this is the same Karpinski

have fun listening.
posted by rough ashlar at 6:34 AM on November 12, 2006


Anyone know the EU extradition rules? I was thinking "okay, maybe he won't be able to step foot in Germany with the extradition request live" but perhaps it's worse nowadays?

If they could persuade the German courts to issue a European Arrest Warrant then he wouldn't be able to enter any of them without risking arrest.

(the Wikipedia article on this is sadly crap)
posted by cillit bang at 7:54 AM on November 12, 2006


Its called the US Dollar. And its the way oil is traded. *IF* the rest of the trading world were to say 'Do this, that and the other thing otherwise we won't accept your Dollar as being worthwhile for trade', the speed of how quickly this, that and the other thing would be done would be amazing.
posted by rough ashlar


Isn't Venezuela already leading this effort/threat by switching to euros instead of dollars for oil?
posted by hal9k at 8:16 AM on November 12, 2006


Its called the US Dollar. And its the way oil is traded. *IF* the rest of the trading world were to say 'Do this, that and the other thing otherwise we won't accept your Dollar as being worthwhile for trade', the speed of how quickly this, that and the other thing would be done would be amazing.

This whole argument is completely wrong though. All everyone would have to do is exchange their dollars for Euros when they need to buy oil. This on its own has very little effect on this price of either currency, because suddenly the Venezuelans and Iranians will have huge amounts of Euros coming in with nothing to spend them on, and chances are they'll trade them in for dollars, balancing the initial exchange.

The only way to influence the dollar is to remove it from all other parts of the world economy.
posted by cillit bang at 8:26 AM on November 12, 2006


Why would Rumsfeld be guilty when Bush was the commander in charge?
posted by IronWolve at 8:35 AM on November 12, 2006


you forgot free health care and education for everybody, the abolition of the death penalty, and free PS3s FedEx'd to every man woman and child in the United States
posted by matteo


Not I: you just made that up.
posted by taosbat at 8:40 AM on November 12, 2006


Isn't this irrelevant, because the US is not part of the international criminal court?
posted by BigCalm at 9:36 AM on November 12, 2006


Did you read the links?
posted by spock at 9:38 AM on November 12, 2006


This whole argument is completely wrong though.

Oh? Pray tell.

All everyone would have to do is exchange their dollars for Euros when they need to buy oil.

So now someone who had a Euro (or rubble or whatever) now has a US Dollar. What are they going to exchange that US Dollar for? A machine tool? A MP3 of Brittney Spears? A DVD from Disney? Software to run a web site? (1 dollar is .77 euros at the moment)

So are you claiming that if there was a magical shift of oil from dollars to euros, the conversion of 1 to .77 would stay the same, all other factors being equal so only the change of how oil is priced is being measured?
posted by rough ashlar at 9:56 AM on November 12, 2006


Why would Rumsfeld be guilty when Bush was the commander in charge?

That's an interesting question. Cabinet members are appointed, but they aren't obliged to agree with the President. In fact, they are required to supply their own opinion on matters pertaining to their office, which implies some measure of authority. Moreover, the Vice President and a majority of cabinet members may declare the President unfit for office.

Secretary Rumsfeld is responsible for directing the actions of the Defense Department in response to the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001.

Not to say that Bush isn't culpable for many of the same things Rumsfeld will soon stand accused of, but it seems
posted by owhydididoit at 10:02 AM on November 12, 2006


oops.

...it seems like Bush is shuffling Rumsfeld to the curb, at least a little bit.
posted by owhydididoit at 10:05 AM on November 12, 2006


Isn't Venezuela already leading this effort/threat by switching to euros instead of dollars for oil?
posted by hal9k at 8:16 AM PST


You could say Iraq lead the way.

The Russians are asking for gas/oil to be paid in Rubbles. Iran may or may not have their brouse operating.

The more drastic version is 'No, your dollars are useless for trade'. What trade goods does the US produce that other nations would be willing to buy that can't be had elsewere? Ya know, other than weapon systems.

Why SHOULD the rest of the world bother trading with the US and US Dollars? What 'vote' does anyone have anymore other than where they spend their money?


(And weapon systems tie back towards The Pentagon and the start of the thread eh?)
posted by rough ashlar at 10:14 AM on November 12, 2006


Graphic video from Abu Ghraib,that Rummy did not want us to see.
posted by hortense at 10:16 AM on November 12, 2006


So are you claiming that if there was a magical shift of oil from dollars to euros, the conversion of 1 to .77 would stay the same, all other factors being equal so only the change of how oil is priced is being measured?

Read my post again. The currency the oil-buying contract is done in does not matter, since money can be freely exchanged between them, and whatever effect buying the needed currency has on exchange rates is offset by the oil-producing country selling that currency when it needs to spend it. This second part is the big hole in every petroeuro story I've read.
posted by cillit bang at 11:15 AM on November 12, 2006


This second part is the big hole in every petroeuro story I've read.
posted by cillit bang at 11:15 AM PST


And it relies on the US Dollar being how oil is priced. At the point where US Dollars no longer are the world reserve currency, your 'big hole' is uneffected?


Again - a world of hurt would head the US citizens way if the rest of the world decided the US Dollar is no good for trade. (Voting with ones dollar, as it were.) If US Citizens felt that situation could be solved by 'handing over Rumsfield' the tossing under the bus wheels would commence.
posted by rough ashlar at 11:53 AM on November 12, 2006


and whatever effect buying the needed currency has on exchange rates is offset by the oil-producing country selling that currency when it needs to spend it.

But if they buy something that's from the Euro zone, they don't need to convert the currency at all. Or, if they buy from someone who will accept Euros, they don't have to convert either. It's perfectly possible for goods and services to travel all over the world without American currency ever being involved.

The world doesn't have to use dollars; there's nothing particularly magical about them. Offhand, the only place I can think of where they are absolutely required is to pay tax obligations to the US Government.

We've been abusing our status as the reserve currency for more than a decade now. If it weren't for the largesse of the Japanese and Chinese central banks, obligingly mopping up hundreds of billions of excess dollars for us, the shift toward using other currencies for financial transactions would be a lot further along.
posted by Malor at 12:03 PM on November 12, 2006


rough ashlar: Again - a world of hurt would head the US citizens way if the rest of the world decided the US Dollar is no good for trade.

Malor: But if they buy something that's from the Euro zone, they don't need to convert the currency at all. Or, if they buy from someone who will accept Euros, they don't have to convert either.

Well that's exactly what I said. If you take dollars out of the whole world economy, great, but changing over oil is just a means to that end, and may or may not work.
posted by cillit bang at 12:44 PM on November 12, 2006


Targeting War Profiteers in 2007
posted by homunculus at 1:23 PM on November 12, 2006


Well that's exactly what I said. If you take dollars out of the whole world economy, great, but changing over oil is just a means to that end, and may or may not work.

Oil sales, at the moment, are denominated in dollars, which creates an absolute need for them; no country can deal purely in Euros or its own currency if it imports much oil. It MUST buy dollars.

This creates an artificial demand for dollars... once you have a currency, it's preferable to spend it, rather than convert it, because there are always conversion fees. Oil being sold in dollars means that many financial entities hold dollars, when they otherwise might not.

That's why some folks believe the US is very threatened by countries selling oil for other currencies. Whether or not it actually is, I don't know, but it certainly seems plausible to me. Historically, the health of an empire is very strongly correlated with the health of its money.
posted by Malor at 1:43 PM on November 12, 2006


Rumsfeld's sermon on the ICC is so hypocritical it makes me want to weep.
Today, we see respect for states' sovereignty eroding. We see it, in my view, in the International Criminal Court's claim of authority to try the citizens of countries that have not consented to ICC jurisdiction.
Yeah, thank God we've got America to stand up for the Westphalian system (oh, except for the American law that punishes non-US companies that trade in Cuba, the Sarbanes-Oxley rules, utter disregard for European Union data protection standards, ignoring the congestion charge in London, fifty years of coups in Latin America, and the whole concept of pre-emptive strikes).
posted by athenian at 1:47 PM on November 12, 2006 [1 favorite]


Nice terribly egregious spinning of the facts. I'm sure you meant, "charges that Saddam was convicted on revolved around civilian murder." That is a tad more accurate.

It may be true that Saddam murdered civilians, but this specific trial was for the killing of civilians during an uprising.
posted by Paris Hilton at 2:09 PM on November 12, 2006


"paulsc, that doesn't match well with the little I know of Karpinski. I got the impression that she resisted torture orders and spoke out about them, and was treated most viciously for it. ..."
posted by Malor at 5:58 AM EST on November 12


It's mainly Janis Karpinski who is asserting that Janis Karpinski was "made a scapegoat."

" I had been hesitant to speak out before because this Administration is so vindictive. But now I will ... Anybody who confronts this Administration or Rumsfeld or the Pentagon with a true assessment, they find themselves either out of a job, out of their positions, fired, relieved or chastised. Their career comes to an end."
-- Janis Karpinski, interview with Marjorie Cohn, August 3, 2005

From the same interview:

'Karpinski says she did not know about the torture occurring in Cellblocks 1-A and 1-B at Abu Ghraib because it took place at night. She didn't live at Abu Ghraib, and nobody was permitted to travel at night due to the dangerous road conditions. The first she heard about the torture was on January 12, 2004. She was never allowed to speak to the people who had worked on the night shift. She "was told by Colonel Warren, the JAG officer for General Sanchez, that they weren't assigned to me, that they were not under my control, and I really had no right to see them."'

That contrasts with what she was saying in December of 2003 to World & Nation:

' At least once every three months, Karpinski tries to visit each prison, although she scaled back a bit as attacks against the coalition increased.

"Make no mistake, I have the same concern for personal safety as everybody else, but I put a lot of other people at risk - my driver, my team. . . . But we can't put soldiers out there and say it's too dangerous to come see you." '

Given the dates and times of the quotes, who's reputation is Karpinski trying to spit shine, if not her own? Maybe the real problem was best indicated by something else she said in the 2003 World & Nation interview:

"A lot of time the question is, "How do you feel about being in command of the unit in possibly the most important mission in Iraq?' I say, "A lot of the time I feel tired.' "

But, back to Karpinski's later perspective with Marjorie Cohen, as she was telling it in August 2005:

So, she's a brigadier general, who doesn't know what's going on in what is arguably the most heinous facility under her command, and she can't arrange inspections that can satisfy her of conditions and prisoner treatment she is responsible to monitor, and she is happy to take advice from a subordinate JAG officer, in order to keep her job. After her job is taken away, she's suddenly a critic of the war and of Rumsfeld.

Again, from that interview:

"...And I'm selected for Brigadier General. I had a choice: I could either wait for my unit to come back to the United States and join the men, or I could deploy. I wanted to be with my unit in the field. I thought it would be a great opportunity to see how they would operate under field conditions in a theater of war.

When I got there, there was a completely different story than what we were being told in the United States. It was out of control. There weren't enough soldiers. Nobody had the right equipment. They were driving around in unarmored vehicles, some of them without doors. Some of the soldiers didn't even have protective vests. And I kept hearing the same excuse for reservists, for National Guard units: the active component was taking the equipment as a priority. We can't get it over here.

And then layer on top of that, there was no personnel replacement system for the Reserves and the National Guard. So if I lost a soldier to an illness, a nervous breakdown, a battle injury, whatever it might be, I operated one short, or ten short, or thirty short, or sixty short. I didn't mobilize these units. I didn't deploy these units. I joined them in theater. The responsibility for how those units were deployed and how they were ill-prepared rests with the senior level of leadership in the military. "

But in December of 2003, World & Nation reported:

"So far, Karpinski has lost 15 people under her command to combat-related incidents, including a father killed by a mortar before he got to see his 2-month-old baby. She sends personal letters to the families and tries to attend all memorial services in Iraq."

In her own words, it seems she wasn't operating "sixty short" with "ill-prepared" units until after the poop hit the rotary air handler about Abu Gharib, doesn't it? But in the Cohen interview in 2005, Karpinski sees the underlying reason for her difficulties, and it's a systemic conspiracy:

'The Army discriminates against the reservists in general, and female officers in particular, Karpinski said. "It's really a good old boys' network," she said. "Come hell or high water, they're going to maintain the status quo." While she was made the scapegoat for the torture at Abu Ghraib, Karpinski said, no one above her in the chain of command has been reprimanded.'

She seemed happy enough with the "good ol' boys' network" when she was making rank, and was quoted in the World & Nation interview in December of 2003 one month before the Abu Gharib scandal broke under her:

'Karpinski notes, with pride, that female soldiers under her command do the same kind of work as men. "Over the last 10 years, (the Army) has become an example of how men and women of every religion and ethnic background are offered the same opportunities. Occasionally the good old boy network is in place, but it used to be 90 percent of the time. Now it's 10 percent of the time." '

And her claim that no one above her in the chain of command has suffered for their responsibility in this matter probably rings a little hollow with Lyndie England, who is doing 3 years in the brig, while Karpinski is drawing retirement pay from the military at a colonel's rank, and is making bank on her book deal:

"MC: You're writing a book. Do you have a publisher?

JK: Yeah, Miramax. It's going to be published in November. I didn't get any kind of correspondence except to chastise me. When I was going out to San Francisco to speak to the University of San Francisco, the law school out there, that was in April, I got a form letter from the Chief of the Army Reserves warning me - warning me - about speaking about Abu Ghraib, and that everything was still under investigation. Well, shortly after I got back, I get a letter saying that he understands that I'm writing a book and I should submit the transcript for review.

And my lawyer responded simply by telling him that I was a private citizen and I don't fall under the same requirements, which he had to acknowledge, because that's true. I'm not ignorant, and I'm not going to reveal any classified information in anything I write, but I don't need to, because the truth is the truth, and it doesn't have to be classified. It is definitely staggering, but the truth is the truth. "

If my comments seem unsympathetic to Karpinski, it's because I think she's an example of the kind of political animal that succeeds in the current DoD, and shouldn't. I don't doubt that the command structure of which she was part was permeated to its core with politics, and still is. But there is a point where the responsibilty for command leadership has to become a personal responsibility. Karpinski is still claiming Abu Gharib wasn't her fault, and that she was ignorant of conditions, and that she was following orders.

None of those excuses have been valid since Nuremburg.
posted by paulsc at 3:49 PM on November 12, 2006


In other news: U.S. Using Sting Tactics in Great Britian
posted by homunculus at 10:29 PM on November 12, 2006


Capturing people who want to sell weapons to our enemies is a bad thing?
posted by caddis at 11:26 PM on November 12, 2006


Entraping poeple who may or may not want to sell weapons to other people who may or may not be our enemies, and doing it in such a way that it antagonizes one of our best allies, strikes me as a poor way to handle this kind of business.
posted by homunculus at 1:13 AM on November 13, 2006


I'm not soo sure about Rumsfeld being off the hook entirely here. Sounds like these guys have their legal ducks in a row, which may go further than you expect in Germany. And Rumsfeld is guilty of limitless stuff, so money is the only limiting factor for repeated attempts.
posted by jeffburdges at 5:13 AM on November 13, 2006


paulsc, I can see your point about her ignorance being a bad thing, but she may not have had a choice. If you can believe her account (and I don't think it's been contradicted), she was only in charge on paper; a lot of the stuff was deemed 'outside her authority'. Brigadier General or no, she has bosses, and if they say she's not allowed to see the investigation results or talk to the people on the night crew, then she doesn't have the authority. It's really that simple.

With most other administrations, I'd tend to disbelieve her, but with the stories that I keep hearing about how fucked up the chains of command are over there, I think she's probably telling the truth. I agree that her hands-off style wasn't too great, and that she should have been there more, but again... it's hard to tell how much authority she really had.

I don't think the fact that she changed her mind about the good old boy network means a damn thing. She thought it had gone away, and that's why she was getting promoted... but found out that it was still there and she was just the token female.

You and I BOTH know that this went all the way to Bush; there's simply no way to conclude anything else, given the evidence we've seen. So why would just this one general get kicked to the curb? In a word, disloyalty.. she dared to have a different opinion. She was punished for that, not for the torture.

And not ONE word of any of this means that what she says isn't true. You may not like her much, but there's no real indication that she's lying. She's changed her opinion in a couple of areas, but given what happened to her, I think that's only to be expected.
posted by Malor at 6:16 AM on November 13, 2006


Oh, and by the way, she wasn't saying she was operating sixty short; she was saying that if she lost people, she couldn't get replacements. She said "IF I am short X men", not "I was short 60 guys". It was an example.

I'm just not seeing contradictions.. you seem predisposed to dislike the woman.
posted by Malor at 6:21 AM on November 13, 2006


As much as I dislike Rumsfeld, any attempt to actually arrest Rumsfeld on charges brought this way would be wholly illegitimate. The complainants are not German or EU citizens, Rumsfeld is not a German or EU citizen, and, last I checked, Iraq, where the activities in question took place, is not part of Germany or the EU. Therefore, any attempt at seizing Rumsfeld without the consent of the U.S. would be just as legal, and just as proper, as extraordinary rendition.
posted by oaf at 8:48 AM on November 13, 2006


'Taleban law' passed in Pakistan

It's not just Rummy's failure, it's BushCo's.
posted by taosbat at 5:57 PM on November 13, 2006


BERLIN Nov 14, 2006 (AP)— Civil rights activists filed suit Tuesday asking German prosecutors to open a war crimes investigation of outgoing Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld and a host of other U.S. officials for their alleged roles in abuse at Iraq's Abu Ghraib prison and Guantanamo Bay.
posted by taosbat at 7:19 AM on November 14, 2006


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