Marjorie Cohn: An Interview With Janis Karpinski
Abu Ghraib General Lambastes Bush Administration
By Marjorie Cohn
t r u t h o u t | Perspective
Wednesday 24 August 2005
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
Army Reserve Brigadier General Janis Karpinski was in charge of the infamous Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq when the now famous torture photographs were taken in fall of 2003. She was reprimanded and demoted to Colonel for her failure to properly supervise the prison guards. Karpinski is the highest ranking officer to be sanctioned for the mistreatment of prisoners. On August 3, 2005, I interviewed Janis Karpinski. In the most comprehensive public statement she has made to date, Karpinski deconstructs the entire United States military operation in Iraq with some astonishing revelations.
When Karpinski got to Abu Ghraib, "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 ... So, knowing that they were ill-equipped and ill-prepared, they pushed them out anyway, because those two three-stars wanted their fifteen minutes of fame, I suppose."
Karpinski said that General Shinseki briefed Rumsfeld that "he can't win this war, if they insist on invading Iraq, he can't win this war with less than 300,000 soldiers." Rumsfeld reportedly ordered Shinseki to go back and find a way to do this with 125,000 to 130,000, but Shinseki came back and said they couldn't do the job with that number. "What did Rumsfeld do?" Karpinski asked rhetorically. "If you can't agree with me, I'm going to find somebody who can. He made Shinseki a lame duck, for all practical purposes, and brought in Schoomaker. And Schoomaker got it. He said, 'Oh yes sir, we can do this with 125,000.'"
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."
When Karpinski inquired, "What's this about photographs?" the sergeant replied, "Ma'am, we've heard something about photographs, but I have no idea. Nobody has any details, and Ma'am, if anybody knows, nobody is talking." When Karpinski asked to see the log books, the sergeant told her that the Criminal Investigation Division had taken everything except for something on a pole outside the little office they were using.
"It was a memorandum signed by Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld, authorizing a short list, maybe 6 or 8 techniques: use of dogs; stress positions; loud music; deprivation of food; keeping the lights on, those kinds of things," Karpinski said. "And then a handwritten message over to the side that appeared to be the same handwriting as the signature, and that signature was Secretary Rumsfeld's. And it said, 'Make sure this happens' with two exclamation points. And that was the only thing they had. Everything else had been confiscated."
Karpinski tried to get information, but "nobody knew anything, nobody - at least, that's what they were claiming. The Company Commander, Captain Reese, was tearful in my office and repeatedly told me he knew nothing about it, knew nothing about it," Karpinski said. But in a later plea bargain he entered into after the Taguba Report came out, "Captain Reese said that not only did he know about it, but he was told not to report it to his chain of command, and he was told that by Colonel Pappas. And he claimed that he saw General Sanchez out there on several occasions witnessing the torture of some of the security detainees."
The first time Karpinski got any clarification about the photographs was January 23, 2004. The criminal investigator, Colonel Marcelo, came into Karpinski's office and showed her the pictures. "When I saw the pictures I was floored," Karpinski said. "Really, the world was spinning out of control when I saw those pictures, because it was so far beyond and outside of what I imagined. I thought that maybe some soldiers had taken some pictures of prisoners behind barbed wire or in their cell or something like that. I couldn't imagine anything like what I saw in those photographs."
Marcelo told her, "Ma'am, I'm supposed to tell you after you see the photographs that General Sanchez wants to see you in his office." So Karpinski went over to see Sanchez. She said that "before I even saw the photographs, I was preparing words to say in a press conference - to be up front, to be honest about this, that an investigation is ongoing and there are some allegations of detainee abuse."
But Sanchez told Karpinski, "'No, absolutely not. You are not to discuss this with anyone.' And I should have known then," she said, "and I know that Sanchez was hopeful for a four-star promotion even then, in January of 2004. And I thought it had probably most to do with the election coming up in November 2004, and that this could really move the Administration out of the White House if it was exploited. So naively, I just thought, you know, they're going to let this investigation go and they're going to handle it the way it should be handled."
Karpinski said, however, "The truth has been uncovered, but it's been suffocated and it has not been released with the results of the investigation." She added, "McClellan and Rumsfeld can get up on their high horse and say that there've been no fewer than 15 investigations that were conducted. But every one of those investigations is under the control of the Secretary of Defense. And every one of those investigations is run and led by a person who can lose their job under Rumsfeld's fist."
"We're never going to know the truth until they do an independent commission or look into this independently," Karpinski maintains. "This is about instructions delivered with full authority and knowledge of the Secretary of Defense and probably Cheney. I don't know if the President was involved or not. I don't care. All I know is, those instructions were communicated from the Secretary of Defense's office, from the Pentagon, through Cambone, through Miller, to Abu Ghraib."
Karpinski describes what happened when General Geoffrey Miller arrived at Abu Ghraib: "The most pronounced difference was when Miller came to visit. He came right after Rumsfeld's visit ... And he said that he was going to use a template from Guantánamo Bay to 'Gitm-oize' the operations out at Abu Ghraib."
"These torture techniques were being implemented and used down at Guantánamo Bay and, of course, now we have lots of statements that say they were used in Afghanistan as well," Karpinski said. Although Miller has sworn he was just an "advisor," Miller told Karpinski he wanted Abu Ghraib. Karpinski replied, "Abu Ghraib is not mine to give to you. It belongs to Ambassador Bremer. It is going to be turned over to the Iraqis." Miller replied, "No it is not. I want that facility and Rick Sanchez said I can have any facility I want." Karpinski said, "Miller obviously had the full authority of somebody, you know, likely Cambone or Rumsfeld in Washington, DC."
Miller's representative, General Fast, turned the prison over to the Military Intelligence brigade for complete command and control, Karpinski said. "There was no coordination with me or Colonel Pappas. There was no discussion about chain of command."
Abu Ghraib housed primarily Iraqi criminals. Although many of the "security detainees" were kept at Abu Ghraib, most of the interrogations took place at a higher-value detention facility in Baghdad, according to Karpinski.
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.
Karpinski reveals that there was "no sustainment plan" because "there were a lot of contractors - US contractors exclusively - who realized they could make a lot of money in Iraq." At the Coalition Provisional Authority, Karpinski "saw corruption like I've never seen before - millions of dollars just being pocketed by contractors. Everything was on a cash basis at that time," she said. "You take a request down - literally, you take a request to the Finance Office. If the Pay Officer recognized your face and you were asking for $450,000 to pay a contractor for work, they would pay you in cash: $450,000. Out of control."
Speaking about the war, Karpinski said, "Iraq was a huge country, and when you have people largely saying now, 'He may have been a dictator, but we were better under Saddam,' this Administration needs to take notice. And at some point you have to say, 'Stop the train, because it's completely derailed. How do we fix it?' But in an effort to do that, you have to admit that you made a few mistakes, and this Administration is not willing to admit any mistakes whatsoever."
Janis Karpinski is no longer in the military. She is writing a book that will be published by Miramax in November. In April, she received 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." She then got "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," Karpinski said, "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."
Janis Karpinski: Exclusive Interview
By Marjorie Cohn
t r u t h o u t | Interview
Wednesday 03 August 2005
Army Reserve Brigadier General Janis Karpinski was in charge of Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq when the infamous torture photographs were taken. She was reprimanded and demoted to Colonel for her failure to properly supervise the prison guards. Karpinski is the highest ranking officer to be sanctioned for the mistreatment of prisoners. This exclusive interview by t r u t h o u t writer Marjorie Cohn is the most comprehensive public statement Karpinski has made to date.
MC: General Karpinski, thank you for agreeing to talk to me today.
JK: I had been hesitant to speak out before because this Administration is so vindictive. But now I will.
Despite years of this pronouncement that it's an "army of one," we reservists were absolutely discriminated against. The people at the senior levels of the reserve components, the Chief of the Army Reserve, for example, a three-star, never made so much as one phone call, never exchanged one word with me in all of this. Twice, my lawyer requested a meeting with him face-to-face in Washington, DC, and he declined. He denied both of those requests.
It's really a good old boys' network. Come hell or high water, they're going to maintain the status quo. They all live by each other in Fort Myers, or near Fort Myers. I'm sure that they have these cigar-smoking sessions where they're all patting each other on the back that they got another female out of the way, before I was able to get higher up in the senior levels. But I always expected that reservists would find support from their own component, and not be tagged as bad apples. For myself, there was not any support whatsoever.
I just find it incredible that the system - the Pentagon and the Judicial System - can continue to keep those soldiers in jail when there are simply volumes of documents and information that is emerging, and continues to emerge, that says exactly what one, in particular, Graner, was saying all along: that he was ordered to do these things by the Military Intelligence people and the interrogators, the contract interrogators. And there's more and more information to support that. The recommendation was that General Miller from Gitmo be reprimanded and his four-star commander from SOUTHCOM said no, I don't agree with that.
MC: And General Geoffrey Miller was the one who was supposed to transplant those interrogation and torture techniques from Guantánamo to Abu Ghraib?
JK: That's correct. There are sworn statements, not only from the interrogators and the FBI personnel down at Guantánamo Bay prior to even a thought of using Abu Ghraib for a prison location. These torture techniques were being implemented and used down at Guantánamo Bay and, of course, now we have lots of statements that say they were used in Afghanistan as well.
In late August and September of 2003, Miller comes to visit, then everything starts to change, to include transferring the responsibility for Abu Ghraib over to the Military Intelligence people altogether. And it's been substantiated through an investigation that these torture practices were developed and implemented down in Guantánamo Bay and then they were imported to Abu Ghraib.
They're holding these soldiers responsible for one time on the night shift coming up with these pranks. Give me a break! It's so unfair to continue to blame those soldiers. You know, I would be the first one to say to anybody that Graner and Fredericks, as noncommissioned officers - they crossed the line. Graner punched a prisoner in the chest so hard, to get him under control, the guy passed out. Fredericks stepped on feet and hands and everything else. And they didn't report what they knew were violations of the Geneva Conventions. They didn't report those things to the chain of command.
Now I've been held accountable for that, but never once, Marjorie, never once have I had an opportunity to speak to any of those soldiers, because before I was even aware that there was an investigation going on or that there were photographs or anything else, those soldiers were removed from their positions at Abu Ghraib and taken away to Sanchez's headquarters. And I was never allowed to speak to them. Never once.
MC: Why do you think you're the highest officer who's been punished?
JK: Well, I don't know how else to say it, but I think I check a lot of blocks. Before the war got underway, before 9/11, Rumsfeld's plan was to downsize the military - fewer, faster, more trained in Special Operations, never have to fight on two fronts again. He wanted to downsize the overall military. He wanted to return control of the military to the civilian sector. And the division commanders, at least in the Army, were opposed to that. And there were very selfish reasons for their opposition. If you were a division commander, you could pay back favors that were done for you, perhaps, to get you promoted or to put you into positions. You repay other graduates of the military academy - those kinds of things - by appointing them to command positions in your own division. So the more toys you have to play with, the bigger your division and the more likely that you're going to be at the front of the pack when your promotion comes up. So that's history.
Rumsfeld wanted to downsize the military, and the component chiefs were opposed to it. He sent them all back to their offices, and said, "Find a way to do this." The only component that came up with a solution was the Marine Corps. Then he sent the Air Force, the Navy and the Army back to the drawing board, and then 9/11 happened. So they got a reprieve. And it was up to them to prove how important it was that they still needed big divisions and lots of equipment and all that other stuff.
Here's Shinseki briefing Rumsfeld that he can't win this war, if they insist on invading Iraq, he can't win this war with less than 300,000 soldiers. I wasn't there to hear it, but allegedly Rumsfeld said to Shinseki: go back and find a way to do this with 125,000 to 150,000. Well, Shinseki came back again and said: Mr. Secretary we can't do it with that number. You need 300,000.
What did Rumsfeld do? If you can't agree with me, I'm going to find somebody who can. He made Shinseki a lame duck, for all practical purposes, and brought in Schoomaker. And Schoomaker got it. He said, "Oh yes sir, we can do this with 125,000."
Well, none of them had to go fight the war. None of them had to deploy and manage this small number. And everybody was under the impression that this war was going to be over very quickly. So there was no sustainment plan. 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.
MC: And when you say "senior level," who do you mean?
JK: I mean the Chief of the Army Reserves, the Chief of the National Guard here, who is the only general officer in all of this who has admitted that they had no idea. I think it was General Bloom, he's a three-star. I don't even know if he still is Chief of the National Guard. But he admitted that they had no idea that the units were going to be deployed for anything, the length of time that it started to appear that they were going to be deployed. So they pushed them out of the mobilization stations, because they knew that the units would somehow manage once they got into Iraq. So, knowing that they were ill-equipped and ill-prepared, they pushed them out anyway, because those two three-stars wanted their fifteen minutes of fame, I suppose.
But Bloom, at least, stepped up to the plate and took responsibility. Helmsley, who allowed these units to deploy, who came up with this harebrained scheme about cross-welling soldiers and serving with complete strangers - he has never taken responsibility for anything. And neither has the Pentagon.
More than a year ago, that brave soldier stood up and said to Rumsfeld, "Why don't we have the right equipment? Why are we still going out with unarmored vehicles?" Rumsfeld made that infamous comment that was: you go to war with the units that you have, not necessarily the ones you want. Well, how about a slap in the face? But he's never been held accountable for that.
And the man, the officer who stopped requests for armored vehicles and stopped requests for protective vests to be prioritized is now the Chief of Staff of the Army, General Cody. He's a four-star. He was a three-star. He was in charge of logistics, and he disapproved any additional requests for vehicles or protective equipment for our soldiers. He was promoted. He is a four-star, and he is the Chief of Staff of the Army today.
That's how Rumsfeld and the Pentagon reward people who are in agreement with them. I don't know how else to say it. Shinseki, who was telling Rumsfeld the truth - he was retired.
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.
MC: What is your current status?
JK: I am retired from the military.
MC: You wrote in an e-mail: "The techniques are a clear departure from what soldiers are taught and understand, the techniques that were directed by the highest level of this Administration." By that, you mean all the way up to the Oval Office?
JK: I mean all the way up to Cheney. I don't know the workings of how it gets up there. But I would think that, very similar to any other big corporation or the military, that if you have a deputy - or a Vice President, in this case - and he is making decisions or approvals, then maybe by default you will say, "If I didn't know, I should have known," or "I did know." Because he's your Vice President. Or he is the Vice President. Or he is the Secretary of Defense. I don't know what they are telling the President. And I don't care. He's the President, and he's supposed to know what's going on in this Administration, and honestly, sometimes it doesn't seem like he does.
MC: How are the techniques a clear departure from what soldiers are taught and understand?
JK: Well, I can tell you that Military Police soldiers (I don't care what component they're from: National Guard, Reserve or active duty) - in fact, when it comes to the Geneva Conventions and fair and humane treatment of prisoners, Reserve and National Guard units are better, because it is a mission. A prisoner of war operation and internment resettlement and refugee operations - it was never a mission that the active component wanted to embrace. They wanted the National Guard and the Reserve Units to take those missions. They thought it was an insult to them to have to do those kinds of missions. So in my opinion, the reservists and the National Guard Units were better equipped, better trained, and fully aware of the Geneva Conventions and the requirements of how to treat prisoners of war fairly and humanely.
They changed the mission. They assigned a new detention mission to the 800th MP brigade and relocated most of the units from the prisoner of war camp, which was winding down from May onwards, and moved them, pushed them up into Iraq, to perform this new mission of detention operations. We were told - I was told - that it was going to be assisting Bremer's headquarters, the Coalition Provisional Authority, with restoring prisons and jails and getting the Iraqi prisoners back under lock and key because they were disrupting operations, etc. etc.
So despite the fact that Iraqi criminals - detention operations - are different from prisoner of war operations (they have a different mind set of a criminal, if you will), the MPs were assigned this mission. There was absolutely no discussion whatsoever to see if the units were properly equipped, if they had appropriate training. Twice I approached the two-star, a guy by the name of Cruser [sp?], he's a Major General Reservist. Twice I went to him and I said, "This is not our mission." And he said to me, as almost to dismiss me out of his office, he said, "Yes, I know Janis, but you're the closest we've got from detention MP, so you guys have the mission." Not, you know, we don't have the right equipment; not, we don't have the right training, we don't have the right background. He didn't care.
MC: You said that Iraqi detention is different than POWs, that there's a criminal mind set. Could you explain it a little bit more?
JK: Well, when you have prisoner of war operations or refugee resettlement operations, and there's a war going on, prisoners of war know and understand, and they see it exhibited by the military police soldiers, that they are going to be treated fairly and humanely, and that the enemy - the people detaining them - are not going to be living in high-rise hotels while they're in these prison camps. Everybody they see - the MPs and the soldiers who are guarding them - are living at the same level that they are. So if there's a ration of water of two liters a day, the prisoners get the same ration that the soldiers get. If they're living in outside tents, the soldiers are likewise living in outside tents and cow towns. There's no air conditioning. There is no laundry service. There are no rental cars. And prisoners of war understand that. They know that they are only going to be held as combatants until the war is over, so their mind set is different. They are generally under control.
Nobody likes to be held against their will. But enemy combatants understand that, in the course of war, if they're captured, then they're held in a prisoner of war camp and will be treated humanely until the war is over and then they can go home. That's how prisoner of war operations work, and that's the mind set, I would say, of an average soldier, pretty much, and 75 percent of the free world.
Iraqi criminals, on the other hand, if they're violent criminals - whether it was under Saddam or now under US forces control - they might remain in jail for the rest of their lives. So they have 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to plot and to plan and to design ways to escape, ways to harass their keepers, ways to make life miserable for the MPs or the individuals who are detaining them.
The only reason we had any kind of control - I will tell you this flat out, up front - the only reason we had any kind of control in any of our prison facilities, Abu Ghraib aside, was because the MPs were taking the initiative and finding ways to accommodate the prisoners. It wasn't because of the fine security of the prison facility. It was because the prisoners knew that the MPs were doing everything they could, everything in their power, to make life more acceptable for them while they were spending their days and nights incarcerated.
We had civilian so-called experts - contractors - under the Coalition Provisional Authority, who worked under the Ministry of Justice. Now these prison experts all had experience as wardens or as directors for prisons in the United States.
MC: Were some of them former US Special Forces?
JK: No, they were not. They were all civilians. There was only one of them who was retired from the military, and he was actually retired as a Military Police officer. But it's just incredible that these three contractors that they brought over were hired by the Justice Department in Washington, and it was the same Justice Department - there aren't two separate entities - it was the same Justice Department that, between 30 and 60 days before hiring these people to come to Baghdad, the same Justice Department had fired them from their positions in the Utah Corrections Facility for prisoner abuse.
And I didn't know that when we were there. Nobody bothered to tell us that. But we were told that we were going to go up to Baghdad, we were going to relocate the headquarters up to Baghdad to assist the Prisons Department, under the Ministry of Justice, with this restoration of jails and prisons. Well, we got up there and there were three of them and one director. And they were looking at 121 different jails for us to run and operate. And I told them I don't have that many MPs! I couldn't put 3 MPs in each one of those facilities and run them. We have to find the biggest facilities, and that's what they did. They eventually identified, I think they identified, 15 or 18 and we settled on 15 or 16.
MC: Why did they bring these civilian contractors? Why do you think they brought them over?
JK: Well, at that time, everybody was under the impression that the Coalition Provisional Authority was being run under the auspices of the State Department, and that the Iraqi Detention Operation was a function that would eventually be turned over to the Iraqis.
Well, that may have been true in some back room plan, that people had an idea that was going to be in place. But there was no plan. Because normally, prison operations and jail operations come with the restoration of peace and security. And that comes with a sustainment operation that follows combat operations. So on a backward timeline, when the war was declared over on the aircraft carrier, then sustainment operations - engineers, civilian contractors, military police, military police organizations - all those organizations kind of kick into high gear to get things moving down the same road. Well there was no sustainment plan. And I can tell you, Marjorie, my opinion is that there was no sustainment plan because, by that time, there were a lot of contractors - US contractors exclusively - who realized they could make a lot of money in Iraq.
MC: How did the enlisted soldiers feel about the contractors getting these fat paychecks?
JK: My soldiers were saying, I heard this often: "Ma'am, I want to get out of the Army and come back over here. I could be making five times the money that I'm making as a soldier. And these guys never go out and do anything. We're doing all the work, and they're drawing all the pay!" I heard it a dozen times a week from every level of soldier, every rank, in every one of my units. They could see it. They knew what was going on. Here's these three contractors who are supposed to restore the prison system with the help of the military, and they never - I don't want to say never - they hardly leave the confines of the Coalition Provisional Authority.
MC: Now did they play a role in the interrogations?
JK: No, they did not. The interrogations were separate and apart from Iraqi detention operations. The only role they played was, they were restoring Abu Ghraib. They were using funds from the Coalition Provisional Authority to restore the cells out at Abu Ghraib.
MC: So who was in charge of the interrogations at Abu Ghraib?
JK: The Military Intelligence.
MC: And you were reprimanded and demoted for failing to supervise the staff at Abu Ghraib, and you've said you were a scapegoat?
MC: What do you mean by that?
JK: Well, I have to refer to a timeline. Miller comes, we have Abu Ghraib, and Abu Ghraib was a pile of rubble the first time I saw it. The only advantage of Abu Ghraib, the only advantage, was this 20-foot high retaining wall around the ground, acres and acres of the grounds of Abu Ghraib. So we had that as a security, first line of defense. But everything inside the prison at that time had been looted. Electrical systems, water systems, infrastructure, doors were gone. Blocks of concrete were removed from the interior section, the interior cells.
But I had a Company Commander who was commanding an MP unit out there, and he told me in July, "Ma'am, if you get us the resources we can at least hold prisoners here until the other facilities are restored." So there was great opposition to that, because of the history of Abu Ghraib. But we proceeded with the encouragement and the support, to a limited extent, from Ambassador Bremer. Because we needed some place to put these Iraqi criminals that the divisions were policing in the course of their operations and attempted to get sustainment operations underway, throughout Iraq. So in August, the divisions were directed to undertake these - let me back up. At Abu Ghraib during July and the beginning of August 2003, we were holding several hundred prisoners.
MC: Were these prisoners of war?
JK: No, these were Iraqi criminals, because the war was over. So when the President declared the war over, there are no more prisoners of war. What we were policing then were Iraqi criminals.
MC: Had they all been arrested for crimes?
JK: Yes, they were. But some of them, most of them, the vast majority of them were minor crimes. They were missing curfew. They were subjected to a random inspection and a weapon was found in their trunks, they were looting, dealing gasoline, whatever. But they were minor crimes, nonviolent crimes, the majority of them.
In October and November, 2002, Saddam and his sons opened all of the jails and all of the prisons and released all of the prisoners to cause chaos as the Coalition advanced to Baghdad. And they did. These criminals, these criminal elements, did wreak havoc. So it was not unusual, when the divisions were out doing their operations or manning a checkpoint, that they would find a minor crime, minor criminals. And then, when they were turned over, sometimes the prisoners would even admit that they had been held under Saddam. In all the thousands of prisoners that were turned over to our control, we only had one who came in with a prison record folded neatly in his wallet. Because they're smart enough to not say, "Oh, I was a prisoner, I was a murderer, and I was being held for life under Saddam, so you got me." You know, they were all, every prisoner was innocent.
MC: So the prisoners who were being tortured or abused at Abu Ghraib - were they all convicted criminals?
JK: No, because up until the mid part of August or the third week of August, 2003, I would say 95 percent of our prisoner population were Iraqi criminals, and the majority of them were nonviolent criminals. Then, directed by the CJTF-7, the divisions undertook these aggressive raids and these operations targeting specific individuals who were either terrorists, suspected terrorists, or known associates of terrorists. And they were called "security detainees." This is a new category of prisoner. So they were bringing them into Abu Ghraib, and again, no coordination with the commander (me) or my battalion commander out at Abu Ghraib. They were just flooding Abu Ghraib every night from the end of August onward with 15 prisoners, 30 prisoners, 8 prisoners, 60 prisoners, whatever it would be. So the population exploded from what it was, about 1200 at the end of August. In September and October we took in at least equal that number. So by the end of September, we had more than 3,000 prisoners. And by the end of October, we had over 6,000 prisoners. And the CJTF-7 headquarters did not care if we had food for the prisoners, if we had accommodations for the prisoners, if we had jumpsuits for the prisoners or anything.
But the most pronounced difference was when Miller came to visit. He came right after Rumsfeld's visit. Miller was there the next day. And he stayed for about ten days to work with the Military Intelligence commander, the Military Intelligence staff officer, General Fast, and the commander of the Military Intelligence committee, Colonel Pappas.
And he said that he was going to use a template from Guantánamo Bay to "Gitmo-ize" the operations out at Abu Ghraib. He didn't spend much time with me, but he wanted to see me before he went down to brief General Sanchez when he was getting ready to leave. And that was when he was using these strong-arm techniques with me. He said, "Look, we can do this my way or we can do this the hard way." I mean, first of all, we're on the same side! And he knew, and I said to him, "Sir, I don't know who told you I was going to be difficult. What I'm doing is telling you Abu Ghraib is not mine to give to you. It belongs to Ambassador Bremer. It is going to be turned over to the Iraqis." He said, "No, it is not. I want that facility and Rick Sanchez said I can have any facility I want."
So, I mean, I was telling him the truth. Miller obviously had the full authority of somebody, you know, likely Cambone or Rumsfeld in Washington, DC. And right after, during Miller's visit, Colonel Pappas, the MI Brigade Commander, asked me if he could have full control of Cellblock 1-A because all of the people being held in there were really these security detainees.
The prisons experts down at Coalition Provisional Authority objected because it had been the CPA money that had restored those jail cells. I explained that these were higher-value guys and that they needed to be segregated. So they said okay. And we turned the Cellblock 1-A over to Colonel Pappas. And then shortly after that, within a week, they asked for Cellblock 1-B. And Miller probably coached ... I don't know. I do know that Miller had this harebrained idea that he was going to bring in these milvans - you know what milvans are?
JK: Milvans are all metal and they're picked up at a port. Usually, they're either put on the back of a big tractor or trailer truck. Sometimes you'll see these heavy trains at the port lifting up these metal boxes. Those are the equivalent of milvans. You can ship them and then they're picked up with a moving device, wherever they're going to.
So Miller had this idea that they could import hundreds, if not thousands, of these milvans, modify them with bars and such, and make them individual prison cells, similar to what they had done down at Guantánamo Bay, apparently.
So I said to General Miller - just on that point alone - I said, "Look sir, we can't even get building materials up here, basically or efficiently. Where do you think they're going to import all these milvans and get them down here to Abu Ghraib?" He said, "It's no problem. We'll use Turkey, we'll use Jordan. We have the answer." Okay. Well, there's not one milvan that's been shipped to Abu Ghraib even to this day.
Nonetheless, he wasn't there, and he didn't have, like so many of these people ... General Cody can sit in Washington, DC now, as the Chief of Staff of the Army and can pontificate about how it should be. But he wasn't there. He was not in the middle of this disaster and this chaos. And the efforts of the Military Police soldiers, they were just so incredible, because every one of our facilities was undermanned, ill-protected, and managed by the seat of their pants.
MC: Taguba suggested that you didn't pay sufficient attention to what was going on under your command. But you said you were waved off by Military Intelligence and the CIA. Who waved you off?
JK: General Miller did first, and then General Fast, as his representative, even though General Miller has claimed repeatedly and under sworn testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee that he was simply an advisor in Iraq; he had no authority to direct anybody to make changes or to do anything differently.
However, when he left, Colonel Pappas, General Sanchez and the Provo Marshall for General Sanchez, I think - a guy by the name of, he was a Colonel, his name was Sanwalt [sp?] - they were copying, cc-ing, General Miller on all the reports of anything to do with interrogation or detention operations. So if he was just an advisor, why were they keeping him so much in the loop? And then when I went to General Fast, after I heard that the prison had been turned over to the Military Intelligence brigade for complete command and control ---
MC: Who turned it over to the Military Intelligence?
JK: General Fast went to the Operations Section of the headquarters, CJTF-7, and told them to cut an order transferring control of the prisons from the Military Police to the Military Intelligence. There was no coordination with me or Colonel Pappas. There was no discussion about chain of command or anything else. General Fast, who was not a commander, ordered them to do it in the Operations Section at Sanchez's headquarters, and they did it. And they cut an order and transferred the prison.
MC: And now, who waved you off? When were you waved off?
JK: When I found out, I wasn't even in Iraq at the time. And when I came back they told me that the prison was transferred under the control of the Military Intelligence. So I went to Sanchez first, and his deputy went in to tell General Sanchez that I was there and I needed to see him, and the subject was the transfer of the prison. General Sanchez would not see me, but he told his deputy or his - I think it was his SGS or his executive officer - he was a full colonel - he told me to go see General Fast, that she had the details. So I went to General Fast, and General Fast pointed to the order. Pointed to the order! Held it up, pointed to the order and said it's a done deal.
MC: So then you were not allowed to go to that cellblock?
JK: No, there was never a restriction on me going to that cellblock or anywhere else at Abu Ghraib, ever. I was not allowed to go to Abu Ghraib or anywhere else during the hours of darkness. Nobody was allowed to; the roads were too dangerous. We were just starting to see the beginnings of these roadside bombs and IEDs and everything. So the headquarters said unless it was life-threatening and they gave permission, there was no travel during the hours or darkness.
MC: And that's when the torture went on?
JK: And that's when the torture was taking place, right.
MC: So if you had wanted to go at night, you couldn't have done it?
JK: Right. That's correct.
MC: When did you find out that this torture was going on?
JK: Well, I really didn't find out - I found out that there was an investigation, and I found out about that, not from General Sanchez, not from General Fast, not from anybody at the headquarters. I found out from the Commander of the Criminal Investigation Division - a guy by the name of Marcelo. He was a full Colonel. And he sent me an e-mail. We had another mission that was close to the Iranian border and I was up there. It was about an hour and forty-five minutes outside Baghdad, two hours outside of Baghdad. So I opened my e-mail when I came back from a meeting with the leadership element of this group up there, and it was close to midnight. I opened the e-mail and I said, "What is this all about?" And the e-mail said, "Ma'am, just want to let you know I'm about to go in and brief the CG on the progress of the investigation out at Abu Ghraib. This is the one involving allegations of abuse and the pictures." That was it.
MC: That was the first you heard?
JK: That was the first I heard, and that was on the twelfth of January of 2004. That was the first I heard. I left the next morning, I didn't know anything about it. I asked my aide, I asked my Operations Officer, and nobody knew anything about it, and everybody was equally shocked, stunned. So we left at daybreak the next morning and drove back into Baghdad and went right out to Abu Ghraib. And we tried to talk to some of the people out there who would have known.
Well, all of the people who worked the night shift were already removed from their positions out there and were taken over to the headquarters, the CJTF-7 headquarters. I was never allowed to speak to them. I never exchanged a word with them, because I 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.
The people who were working in Cellblock 1-A at the time that I went out to Abu Ghraib didn't know anything about it. They were completely in the dark about anything. I said, "What's this about photographs?" And the sergeant said to me, "Ma'am, we've heard something about photographs, but I have no idea. Nobody has any details, and Ma'am, if anybody knows, nobody is talking." I said, "Okay, let me see the logs. Let me see the books." He said, "They took everything. The Criminal Investigation division took everything." I said, "Well, what do you have?" and he pointed to this pole right outside the little office that they were using, and he said, "Well, they left this."
It was a memorandum signed by Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld, authorizing a short list, maybe 6 or 8 techniques: use of dogs; stress positions; loud music; deprivation of food; keeping the lights on, those kinds of things. And then a handwritten message over to the side that appeared to be the same handwriting as the signature, and that signature was Secretary Rumsfeld's. And it said, "Make sure this happens," with two exclamation points. And that was the only thing that they had. Everything else had been confiscated.
So I tried to get information. I talked to Colonel Pappas. I talked to the Battalion Commander. I talked to the chain of command, the Military Police chain of command. Nobody knew anything, nobody - at least, that's what they were claiming. The Company Commander, Captain Reese, was tearful in my office and repeatedly told me he knew nothing about it, knew nothing about it.
But in a plea bargain, later on, after Taguba, Captain Reese said that not only did he know about it, but he was told not to report it to his chain of command, and he was told that by Colonel Pappas. And he claimed that he saw General Sanchez out there on several occasions witnessing the torture of some of the security detainees.
So, the first time I even got any kind of clarification on what these photographs were was the 23rd of January. The criminal investigator, Colonel Marcelo, came into my office. It was about eight o'clock at night, nine o'clock at night. And he called me and he was asking if I was there, would I be there, and I said yes. He said, I have some photographs I want to show you.
So when I saw the pictures I was floored. Really, the world was spinning out of control when I saw those pictures, because it was so far beyond and outside of what I imagined. I thought that maybe some soldiers had taken some pictures of prisoners behind barbed wire or in their cell or something like that. I couldn't imagine anything like what I saw in those photographs.
So then Colonel Marcelo said me, "Ma'am, I'm supposed to tell you after you see the photographs that General Sanchez wants to see you in his office." So I went over to see him, and he, I told him, you know, before I even saw the photographs, I was preparing words to say in a press conference - to be up front, to be honest about this, that an investigation is ongoing and there are some allegations of detainee abuse.
Well, he said, "No, absolutely not. You are not to discuss this with anyone." And I should have known then, and I know that Sanchez was hopeful for a four-star promotion even then, in January of 2004. And I thought that it had probably most to do with the election coming up in November of 2004, and that this could really move the Administration out of the White House if it was exploited. So naively, I just thought, you know, they're going to let this investigation go and they're going to handle it the way it should be handled.
MC: Do you think the investigations that have taken place so far have uncovered the truth about this torture and who is responsible?
JK: Absolutely not. The truth has been uncovered, but it's been suffocated and it has not been released with the results of the investigation. You know, they can say that, McClellan and Rumsfeld can get up on their high horse and say that there've been no fewer than 15 investigations that were conducted. But every one of those investigations is under the control of the Secretary of Defense. And every one of those investigations is run and led by a person who can lose their job under Rumsfeld's fist.
We're never going to know the truth until they do an independent commission or look into this independently. I don't know if this has to be a commission. I don't know what the term is. But I do know that we never would have known the truth about 9/11 if they didn't appoint an independent commission. And this thing, this thing is not about what happened in Cellblock 1-A on a night shift. And it is certainly not about seven reservists who went crazy one night. This is about instructions delivered with full authority and knowledge of the Secretary of Defense and probably Cheney. I don't know if the President was involved or not. I don't care. All I know is, those instructions were communicated from the Secretary of Defense's office, from the Pentagon, through Cambone, through Miller, to Abu Ghraib.
And those civilian contractors who were imported were not subjected to the same Uniform Code of Military Justice discipline as the soldiers. They were cleared, removed from the face of the earth, and seven soldiers are being held responsible. It was grossly unfair.
MC: Now why do you think the Administration is resisting an independent investigation if it has nothing to hide?
JK: Well, for the same reason that when they started to make noise a couple of weeks ago - McCain, I think, recommended developing a bill or was recommending a bill that would define the limits of how to interview prisoners, would require an international database so family members would know where their loved ones or relatives were being held. And Cheney said he would recommend to the President that any bill that would limit his ability to extract information from terrorists, he would recommend disapproval. And the President has said that he would disapprove any such bill. And it's consistent with this Administration's reluctance to get to the truth, because it will reveal that they knew that this was designed at their level and started from the memo under Gonzales and Hayes, I think, is it Hayes?
MC: Yes, Hayes.
JK: And Cambone and all of these people have literally taken control of the inner workings of this Administration. It's just insane that - does anybody think that Lynndie England came to Iraq with a dog collar and a dog leash, with the idea of putting one around the prisoner's neck, and having a photograph taken? They were using these photographs to get - to cut to the chase, for lack of a better expression. The plan was to use these photographs to show newly-arriving prisoners: hey, start to talk or tomorrow you're on the bottom of the pile.
This is wrong to say that this was torture and abuse going on in Cellblock 1-A. It was certainly humiliating to be photographed in such a manner; I don't disagree with that at all. I'm not trying to justify it. But there were interrogation facilities outside of Cellblock 1-A and B - separate facilities, where the actual interrogations took place. And this Administration surely does not want the details of what went on in those interrogation facilities to be known by the rest of the world.
MC: Do you think the CIA is involved? Did you have any contact with the CIA at all, in terms of their involvement with the interrogations?
JK: Marjorie, I have to tell you that from July onward, even up until December, I wouldn't say regularly, but it was often, that I encountered somebody from the Task Force, from the CIA, from Special Operations, and by and large, they were professionals. They were absolutely the consummate professionals.
Now I don't know if they ran separate facilities, and I don't know what techniques they use. I do know that when they determined that somebody they were holding in one of their facilities no longer had any value and they wanted to turn them over to us, at Abu Ghraib, most likely, they turned them over with full medical records. They turned them over with a whole file of interviews and interrogations, and they turned them over in relatively good health, particularly given the situation. So I think that - this is only my conclusion - but I think that techniques in the right and responsible hands are used appropriately. I mean, I never saw anybody under the control of the Task Force or under the control of the CIA who came in bruised, bloody, beaten, and, you know, stitched together. Occasionally we did see the aftermath of a gunshot wound, but these were higher-value detainees, if there was cross-fire or if there was a bullet, but they treated those kind of wounds. That would be my impression.
However, these same techniques or suggestions of aggressive techniques that were designed, in my opinion - again, I don't know this first-hand - but all of these reports now would indicate that these techniques were designed and tested and implemented down at Guantánamo Bay and in Afghanistan. And when you take those same techniques and put them in the hands of irresponsible and non-accountable people, like these civilian contractors were, you are combining lethal ingredients. And what happens? You get civilian contractors who have a playground, and they get out of control. And unfortunately, at Abu Ghraib they suck the military into that same playground. There's no doubt in my mind that they ordered these things to be done.
MC: Who is "they?"
JK: They being the civilian contractors - Titan, CACI. The majority of those contractors were either in Guantánamo Bay or Afghanistan prior to being sent to Abu Ghraib. There were a lot of translators who were working for Titan. Some of them were locally hired, some of them were brought in from the United States. And they were given an opportunity to upgrade their positions to be interrogators - without any kind of formal training whatsoever. So now you have a deadly mix. You have people who have been exposed and who have used these techniques first-hand in other locations. They know that there is no supervision or control. They have been directed, using whatever words, to get Saddam, get the information and get these prisoners to start talking, use more aggressive techniques. So you have allowed people who have no responsibility whatsoever to use techniques that were originally, perhaps originally designed and used by very experienced hands. And it got out of control. It clearly got out of control.
And the reason I didn't know about it at all is because Sanchez and Fast and that whole operation under Miller - whether he was there or not, he was directing it from Guantánamo Bay and Cambone was directing it from Washington, DC - they didn't want Janis Karpinski anywhere near those operations. Because they knew from people talking about me, from my record, from my past performances, that I would not have tolerated anything like what was going on in Cellblock 1-A or B. I would not have.
If I had known, if I had heard from a prisoner, if I had heard from an MP, if I had heard from a soldier, if anybody had suggested such a thing, I would have raised the issue. I would have screamed at the top of my lungs until I got somebody to pay attention that this was going on out there. Likely I would have still been held accountable, because they were looking for a scapegoat all along. And I think they found one in me because they could very easily say, "Well, this is a reservist who had Reserve soldiers, and they were just out of control."
You know, let's tell the truth here. I'm at least as capable a leader as anybody else in the Army. And I have worked harder and taken the toughest assignments and proved my capabilities in those assignments throughout my career. But Miller wanted to make it appear that I didn't have the same qualifications because I was a reservist - that these seven soldiers were, you know, out of control on the night shift - because they were reservists.
No, despite the failures of the Administration and the Pentagon to deploy these soldiers with the right equipment and the right training and assign the right mission, these soldiers were doing a great job. In 17 facilities, more than 40,000 prisoners throughout the time, the only photographs and allegations of abuse were in two cellblocks under the control of the Military Intelligence command and designed and incorporated by General Miller during and following his visit to Iraq.
Now how did he cover all that up? Well, guess where he got assigned after he left Guantánamo Bay? He went back to Iraq to be in charge of not only the detention operations but in charge of the interrogation operations as well, at Abu Ghraib and at the high-value detention facility. As far as I know, they were the only two facilities where there higher-value detainees are being held.
MC: Where was that facility, that higher-value detention facility?
JK: It was in Baghdad.
MC: And is he still there?
JK: No, Miller left. He was there from July of 2004 until December, or January of 2005, and then he went to the Pentagon. I think he went in March, actually. Maybe it was March of 2004 through March of 2005. And then when he left Iraq, he was assigned to the Pentagon. And that's where he is today. He's the only one who hasn't been promoted in all of this. But Colonel Warren was fully aware of all this, and in a sworn statement to one of the soldier's defense counsel, he said that General Karpinski was not aware of any of this because there were measures put in place to prevent her from knowing about any of this.
MC: Who said that?
JK: That was Colonel Warren, the JAG Officer CJ Task Force. He has been recommended for promotion to one-star.
MC: And Sanchez is being recommended for promotion too, right?
JK: I'm not aware of that. But that doesn't surprise me. I know Rumsfeld has said all along that he thinks that Sanchez is an exceptional officer and should be recommended.
MC: And even though this high-level military investigation recommended that Miller be reprimanded, the Army General rejected the recommendation, is that right?
JK: The Commander of SOUTHCOM rejected the recommendation. Miller has never been reprimanded, not for anything down in Guantánamo Bay.
There was a Captain who was in Afghanistan. She was a Lieutenant at the time, Carolyn Woods. And she was brought over specifically by Fast. Fast recommended her to Miller. Miller brought her over to Iraq specifically to run the interrogation operation. She was linked to those deaths in Afghanistan, where the interrogators were under her control, and she was promoted to Captain. Where is she? She is at the MI school, under General Fast.
I mean there's a ton of information, and there's extenuating, not circumstances, but these units were deployed - the Reserve and National Guard units were deployed - with the full understanding, they had orders for 179 days. They were briefed at the mobilization station and deployed with the full understanding that they would be home before the 179 days even expired.
So without any notification whatsoever, without any warning from the Chief of the Army Reserves or anybody else in the Reserve component, they were extended 365 days, just like everybody else in the theater.
However, when you extend an active-component soldier past six months - whether that was their expectation or not - when you extend them, their families are not at risk, because their ID cards are still current, their medical and dental benefits stay current, their housing remains with them, their pay continues.
Reserves and National Guard soldiers rely completely on the orders that they are carrying in their pocket. So they had orders for a 179-day deployment. And when they were extended ... it's not like it is now; the Internet was not available. They didn't have opportunities to call home. Nobody had a cell phone, of course, that worked from over there or anything. So their first concern was for their families. You know, our orders are going to expire and okay, they're telling us that we're going to get an extension eventually but our families will not have ID cards, they will not have medical benefits, they will not have dental benefits. They're going to be kicked out of their housing, for those who are living on base. They were concerned about the welfare of their families. And there was no way to get notification to them.
So it's different. There is a different standard. Somebody waved the magic wand and said, "Let's extend everybody for 365 days because this war is going to go on a lot longer than we thought."
And in my little corner of the world and my exposure down at the Coalition Provisional Authority, I saw corruption like I've never seen before - millions of dollars just being pocketed by contractors. Everything was on a cash basis at the time. You take a request down - literally, you take a request to the Finance Office. If the Pay Officer recognized your face and you were asking for $450,000 to pay a contractor for work, they would pay you in cash: $450,000. Out of control.
And then, Marjorie, in March or May of this year, when Admiral Church presented his investigation findings, he concluded that the Taguba Report was sound. And McCain - Senator Levin said, "Did you interview these individuals? Did you interview Colonel Pappas? Did you interview General Karpinski?" And of course he said no. He took the Taguba Report and relied heavily on that. And McCain said that the Taguba Report has been proven to be flawed and to be incomplete. Did you interview Ambassador Bremer? And Admiral Church said well, no, because I was directed to do this investigation by the Secretary of Defense and it was limited to the Department of Defense units. And the Coalition Provisional Authority and Ambassador Bremer all work for the State Department. And Senator McCain said, "Excuse me, Admiral, but you're wrong. The Coalition Provisional Authority and Ambassador Bremer worked for the Secretary of Defense."
MC: He didn't know that?
JK: He didn't know that. And neither did we when we were there. Everybody believed that there was a balance between the military and the State Department, and that Ambassador Bremer was working for Colin Powell. And that is untrue.
So now today, 2005, I understand why Bremer fired the whole Iraqi army - because he was working for the Secretary of Defense. There was no State Department influence. There was no balance. It was exclusively under the control of Rumsfeld. And there were contractors who were coming in there, hired. It's an excellent question, how the soldiers felt about these contractors. The security guys, the bodyguards, and the security firms that were hired to provide security for visiting dignitaries or Congressional delegations - they were all making a minimum of $300 a day. $300 a day. And never left the Green Zone. They escorted the convoys to the front gate, and then the Military Police or the military units would pick up the responsibility from the gate of the Green Zone out. And here you have soldiers who are now responsible for the lives of these delegations, and some of them are making $3,000 a month.
MC: Do you think that the media is really bringing the truth to the people?
JK: You have to search for the truth. And it shouldn't be that way. It should be reported as truth and not exploited to the advantage of whatever the direction that that outlet is going.
I know those reporters John Barry and Isikoff from Newsweek, and I was shocked when they withdrew that report about the Koran at Guantánamo Bay. I was sure it was true, and I thought, "Who got to them?" They never would have been, you know, half-assed reporting, excuse my expression. You know, I thought, "My gosh, there is no truthful outlet any more."
And why are the American people turning a deaf ear to this? We had 17 Marines killed over the course of the last three days, less than 72 hours. And there's still people in Washington that get on, especially Sunday mornings, and they get on these news or these debate programs and they say, "Well it's only 1800 lives so far" - Only! Only! You know, how dare you say that!
I don't know what the solution is. I'm not an elected official, but I was there. And it was better when we were there than it is now, because they have, whether consciously or unconsciously or just out of ineptness, they have approached this insurgency with the wrong idea.
General Casey, you know, getting on the news and saying, "Well, if everything continues on track we'll be able to start a troop draw-down next March." What exactly are these people smoking?
MC: You don't think that's a public relations ploy to get the Republicans in the midterm elections? And how are they going to maintain their 14 permanent bases in Iraq if they pull troops out? They just can't do that.
JK: Right. And how is that being proven? Well, the insurgents are now responding, as they did right after Cheney's comment that the insurgency was in its last throes of effectiveness. Okay? And then they responded by killing a whole bunch of people.
So now they come back and Casey says, "Well, if everything continues on track, we should be able to start the troop draw-down by next Spring, early next Spring and into the Summer." And how is the insurgency responding? It's like setting up an explosive device and blowing 14 Marines off the face of the earth.
It's just unbelievable, and was, unfortunately, predictable, on the very elementary level of planning sustainment operations. And I don't know if it was just absolute ignorance or wishful thinking. And there is a vast difference between them, but either one of them, something was incorporated by the Pentagon, the Secretary of Defense, of what they thought that, as soon as they got to Baghdad and pulled those statues down, that everybody was going to be coming out waving American flags and throwing flowers? What kind of ignorance is this?
Iraq was a huge country, and when you have people largely saying, now, "He may have been a dictator, but we were better under Saddam," this Administration needs to take notice. And at some point you have to say, "Stop the train, because it's completely derailed. How do we fix it?" But in an effort to do that, you have to admit that you made a few mistakes, and this Administration is not willing to admit any mistakes whatsoever.
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.
Marjorie Cohn, a contributing editor to t r u t h o u t, is a professor at Thomas Jefferson School of Law, executive vice president of the National Lawyers Guild, and the US representative to the executive committee of the American Association of Jurists.