[Marxism] The alleged shoplifting incident of Colonel Karpinski

Brian Shannon Brian_Shannon at verizon.net
Sun Nov 27 20:53:33 MST 2005

Susan Taylor Martin has been the only national writer to pursue the 
army's frameup against Colonel Karpinski on a regular basis. This is 
the fourth article she has written.

Martin takes up the only apparently factual charge against the former 
General—failure to report a shoplifting charge. All the other 
statements in the demotion were vague ones describing poor leadership. 
There was, however, not a single incident of poor leadership cited much 
less described.

Martin immediately asked all the appropriate agencies for information 
on the shoplifting charges. After an appropriate length of time passed 
and after Karpinski came out with her book, Martin relates the 
stonewalling that she received and also describes new government 
regulations on released information. From a posture of releasing the 
information if legally possible, it has become to withhold the 
information if legally possible.

Here is my own earlier comment on the government's treatment of 

Brian Shannon

Unravel scandal? It's rough just to get one record
By SUSAN TAYLOR MARTIN, Times Senior Correspondent
Published November 27, 2005

It's been two years since inmates at Iraq's Abu Ghraib prison endured 
"sadistic, blatant and wanton criminal abuse," in the now-famous words 
of one investigation of the scandal.

Since then - despite substantial evidence the abuse was systematic and 
ranged far beyond Abu Ghraib - only two senior officers have been 
disciplined. Col. Thomas Pappas, in charge of military intelligence at 
the prison, was relieved of his command and fined $8,000 for ordering 
interrogators to use dogs to scare prisoners without approval from his 

Far better known is former Brig. Gen. Janis Karpinski, a reservist who 
headed Iraq's chaotic prisons system after the 2003 invasion. She, too, 
was relieved of her command, and last May President Bush demoted her to 

The unusual thing about Karpinski's demotion is that officially it had 
nothing to do with prisoner abuse. But it shows the difficulty of 
determining what really happened to people held in U.S. custody after 
the Sept. 11 terror attacks.

Karpinski, 52, faced several allegations, but the Army's inspector 
general substantiated only two: dereliction of duty and shoplifting at 
Tampa's MacDill Air Force Base. The inspector said she failed to inform 
the Army as required about a misdemeanor charge of stealing cosmetics 
from MacDill's post exchange in October 2002.

In her new book, One Woman's Army , Karpinski maintains - as she has 
all along - that the alleged shoplifting was nothing more than a 
misunderstanding that was resolved with no criminal charges. This is 
her account:

Karpinski lives in South Carolina, but at the time commanded a military 
police unit from St. Petersburg. After her computer case and wallet 
were stolen from her rental car, she went to MacDill's post exchange to 
cash a check and buy a few toiletries.

While Karpinski was there, her cell phone rang and she pulled some 
items out of her purse to get to the phone. She replaced the contents 
of the purse, wrote a check for her purchases and left - only to be 
stopped by a security guard who said he had seen her putting a bottle 
of moisturizer in the purse.

Karpinski told him the moisturizer was hers, and pointed out that the 
bottle was half empty. Nonetheless, he filled out a report and kept the 

"A couple of weeks later, a woman from MacDill's legal office called me 
and apologized profusely, saying she examined the bottle and recognized 
it could not have been stolen from the exchange," Karpinski writes. "So 
ended one of life's irritating little incidents - or so I thought until 
years later, when "shoplifting' became one of the Army's charges 
against me."

Curious to see if Karpinski's account was correct, I filed a request in 
May - six months ago - that MacDill release a copy of the security 
guard's report in compliance with the federal Freedom of Information 

On Aug. 18, I got a letter saying MacDill had referred my request to 
the headquarters of the Air Mobility Command at Scott Air Force Base in 
Illinois. Two weeks later I got a letter from Illinois saying my 
request had been placed on "the complex track."

I wasn't seeking anything "complex" - only the kind of simple incident 
report that journalists pick up every day from police and sheriff's 
departments. The difference, though, was that I was dealing with the 
federal government.

During the Clinton years, Attorney General Janet Reno said federal 
agencies should release information unless the release would be 
harmful. Her successor, John Ashcroft, reversed the act's presumption 
of openness in a 2001 memo that encouraged federal agencies t o 
withhold information if there was any legal basis for doing so.

"The Clinton policy had been release if at all possible," Sen. Ted 
Kennedy, D-Mass., said in July. "The Bush policy was keep secret if at 
all possible."

Last week, I got another letter from the Air Force. "We can neither 
confirm nor deny the existence of a record," it said, giving no 

A couple of conclusions can be drawn:

No. 1: The government doesn't want to release the report because doing 
so would harm national security or Karpinski's right to privacy, two of 
the main conditions under which information can legally be withheld.

Clearly, there's not a security issue, and a privacy exemption seems 
questionable. The incident occurred in a huge store where hundreds of 
people shop every day. Karpinski has talked openly about the matter, 
and the Army publicly cited the report as a basis for her demotion.

Or conclusion No. 2: The government is not releasing the report because 
it proves Karpinski was telling the truth when she said she didn't 
steal anything. Hence her demotion was based at least in part on a 
trumped-up charge.

In an interview with a Santa Clarita, Calif., newspaper this year, 
Karpinski said repeated requests under the Freedom of Information Act 
to learn the basis for the shoplifting allegation were ignored or did 
not yield any information. Her lawyers were allowed to review the 
inspector general's files, but there was nothing to substantiate the 
allegations, she said.

Karpinski has acknowledged she made mistakes in Iraq. But she says 
responsibility for the prisoner abuse went far up the chain of command 
and that harsh interrogation techniques were tolerated, even 
encouraged, at the highest levels of government.

The abuses at Abu Ghraib "were the result of conflicting orders and 
confused standards extending from the military commanders in Iraq all 
the way to the summit of civilian leadership in Washington," Karpinski 
writes. "The scandal has spread from Abu Ghraib to the far corners of 
Iraq, Afghanistan and Guantanamo Bay, involving military people, CIA 
agents and other people."

Since the scandal broke, there have been many allegations of abuse and 
torture. But apart from Karpinski, Pappas and a few low-ranking 
soldiers, no one has been disciplined.

Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez, former head of U.S. forces in Iraq, now holds 
a major command in Europe and is still in line for a fourth star.

Maj. Gen. Barbara Fast, head of military intelligence in Iraq and a 
frequent visitor to Abu Ghraib, was promoted to commander of the U.S. 
Army Intelligence Center at Fort Huachuca, Ariz.

And Maj. Gen. Geoffrey Miller, who suggested prison guards "soften up" 
inmates for interrogation at Abu Ghraib, reportedly has a military 
management position in Washington, D.C.

Even as the U.S.-backed Iraqi government is accused of torturing 
prisoners, Vice President Dick Cheney is pressuring Congress to exempt 
the CIA from a proposed ban on torture. Republican Sen. John McCain, 
who spent years as a prisoner of war in Vietnam, said he pressed for 
the torture ban because, "frankly, we never got answers to some of the 
questions that were asked" about Abu Ghraib.


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