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Saturday, November 25, 2006

Former Abu Ghraib commander repeats allegation that Rumsfeld ordered abuses
Ryan Olden at 3:16 PM ET

[JURIST] Former Abu Ghraib [JURIST news archive] commander Janis Karpinski [JURIST news archive] has repeated her claim that outgoing US Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld [official profile] personally ordered "making prisoners stand for long periods, sleep deprivation ... playing music at full volume" and so on at the now infamous Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq. Karpinski told Spanish newspaper El Pais [media website] in an interview [transcript] published Saturday that she saw a memorandum ordering the use of these methods, which rights groups and others consider torture [JURIST news archive] in violation of the Geneva Convention on the treatment of prisoners of war. The letter was allegedly signed by Rumsfeld with the handwritten words, "make sure this is accomplished." Karpinski, who claims to have been unaware of the abuses at Abu Ghraib until pictures surfaced in the press, earlier alleged [JURIST report] the existence of the memo in an interview [text] with law professor Marjorie Cohn, now president of the National Lawyers Guild, in August 2005. The former Army Brigadier General has also charged that Rumsfeld further violated the Geneva Convention by "ordering us to hold [a] prisoner without registering him... on various occasions."

Karpinski, the only high-ranking military officer to be punished in connection with the abuse scandal [JURIST report], alleged early last year that the interrogation techniques were approved by top US officials [recorded audio; JURIST report] and has testified to that effect [PDF] in support of a recent bid to have the German federal prosecutor bring war crimes charges [JURIST report] against Rumsfeld and others under German universal jurisdiction laws. According to that testimony:

[a Sergeant at Abu Ghraib] pointed out a memo posted on a column just outside of their small administrative office. The memorandum was signed by the Secretary of Defense, Donald Rumsfeld, and it discussed Authorized Interrogation techniques including use of loud music and prolonged standing positions, amongst several other techniques. It was one page. It mentioned stress positions, noise and light discipline, the use of music, disrupting sleep patterns, those types of techniques. There was also a handwritten note out to the side in the same ink and in the same script as the signature of the Secretary of Defense. The notation written in the margin said “Make sure this happens!” This memorandum was a copy; a photocopy of the original, I would imagine. I thought it was unusual for an interrogation memorandum to be posted inside of a detention cell block, because interrogations were not conducted in the cell block, at least to my understanding and knowledge. Interrogations were conducted in one of the two interrogation facilities outside of the hard site.

This was the command of Donald Rumsfeld himself talking about the specific interrogation techniques he was authorizing. And there was the note – the handwritten note out to the side. It said, "Make sure this happens." And it seemed to be in the same handwriting as the signature. And people understood it to be from Rumsfeld. This is all of what I can say about the memorandum.
Karpinski maintains her innocence in the Abu Ghraib scandal, claiming to be a scapegoat targeted for being a woman and a reservist. She has also derided "corruption like I've never seen it before" in the US-run Coalition Provisional Authority [archived official website] that ran Iraq before a transitional Iraqi government took over in June 2004. Reuters has more.





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