[Marxism] The alleged shoplifting incident of Colonel Karpinski
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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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