This book was recommended to me by an Army Reservist with the 800th Military Police Brigade who served in Iraq, Afghanistan and Guantanamo Bay.
In February 2003, Janis Karpinski thought the army was "paying her back with the greatest assignment of her career". She was promoted to Brigadier General and would command the 800th Military Police Brigade...
First, the facts:
FACT: In 1977, a US Army Recruiter "sold" George and Janis Karpinski on a "joint military career". He told them "the Army had a policy of keeping married officers together. They could travel and see the world arm-in-arm." They should have known it was too good to be true. This would not be the last time that the US Army blatantly lied to Janis Karpinski...
FACT: General Karpinski won a Silver Star for her service in Operation Desert Shield.
FACT: As Major Karpinski, she worked directly with the UAE's President's wife, Sheikha Fatima bint Mubarak — who was head of the UAE's Women's Federation — to establish a women's military training program in the United Arab Emirates. Only women can train women in Arab countries. Major Karpinski's team included one Major and nine non-commissioned officers (NCOs). These women were recommended by their Commanding Officers (COs) and the NCOs had all been Drill Sergeants. Major Karpinski would spend four years immersed in this program.
FACT: After landing in Tampa from a business trip in October 2002, Karpinski noticed her day planner and her wallet were stolen when she stopped at a grocery store. She reported her loss to the police and American Express. She went to the Post Exchange to cash a check, but had no ID. The only option she had was to buy a few items and write a check for $50.00 over the cost. While picking up a few items, her cell phone rang and she dug into her purse to answer it, a guard saw her remove her bottle of lotion, then put it back in her purse. She paid for her purchases and received her $50.00. Upon leaving, the guard detained her and asked her to go to his office. She thought it was because she had no ID card. He said he saw her putting something from the shelf into her bag and singled out her moisturizer — which was only half full (she explained that she used it on flights and pointed out that it obviously was only half full). Nonetheless, he filled out a report and kept the moisturizer. In a couple of weeks, she received a call from McDill's Legal Office. The woman apologised "profusely, saying she examined the bottle and recognized that it could not have been stolen from the exchange." She thought the matter was dropped. Years later, the unsubstantiated allegation of "shoplifting" became one of the Army's charges against her.
FACT: "When things went wrong at Abu Ghraib prison, nobody stood out as a more convenient target than the female General who looked out of place from the perspective of all those male warriors."
FACT: GITMO (Guantanamo Bay) had eight hundred Military Policemen (MPs) to guard six hundred eighty prisoners. In comparison, In Iraq, there were fewer than three hundred MPs to guard seven thousand prisoners at Abu Ghraib alone (there were seventeen prisons in Iraq).
FACT: Major Janis Karpinski always gives credit to her soldiers: "My Reserve soldiers marched into that mess, made a decent place out of it against all odds, completed their mission, and left with honor; mourning their fallen comrades. Most of us survived ... The 800th MP Brigade plunged in to fight it with whatever people and resources they had. We made do, we focused on the essentials. If we could bring the situation under control, our successors would have an easier time with it ... When the 800th reached Iraq, only one in seventeen prisons under our authority was functional (when Saddam knew war was coming, he emptied all of the prisons into the streets — except for political prisoners — those he just shot). When General Karpinski and the 800th left, "thanks to the determination of my 3,400 soldiers and the hard work of prisons chief, Bill Irvine, all seventeen were functional." At the same time, she is very hard on herself, wondering how these abuses happened, if she should have seen the atrocities coming, why she had no idea what was going on, what was the full and real story of what happened at Abu Ghraib et cetera...
FACT: "An overwhelming majority of the 800th Military Police Brigade maintained their military discipline." I believe that General Karpinski more than maintained her military discipline and did an amazing job with her 3,400 soldiers.
FACT: The Pentagon relieved General Karpinski of duty, but no-one bothered to tell her. Instead, they held a press briefing to make that announcement. The first she knew about it was when a reporter from NBC called her after the Pentagon briefing and asked for her reaction to having been relieved of her command, all she could say was that it was a surprise to her. In spite of having General Karpinski's cell phone number, her home telephone number, her brother's telephone number and her email address, the Pentagon insisted that they could not contact her. Apparently, they could not pick up a telephone and dial her number like the reporter had done. When she asked how they attempted to contact her — which number(s) had they called or did they email her — she was stonewalled. It was obvious they had never attempted to contact her and in my opinion, they held the press conference only to humiliate and embarrass her further.
FACT: All of the final charges against General Karpinski had one common denominator: not one of them had anything to do with the treatment of Iraqi detainees in cell block 1A of Abu Ghraib prison. She was formally relieved of duty, as she had expected. General Janis Karpinski was turned into a scapegoat. She had made the mistake of being a female General in a "man's Army". Those higher up in her chain of command were not sanctioned at all — their careers stayed on track, they faced no charges for their appalling behaviour. Why? Simply because they were men who always referred to the Army as "my Army." It was just as much General Karpinski's Army! She had more than proven herself worthy.
FACT: "President Bush delivered a blow I had not expected — vacating my promotion to General and demoting me back to a Colonial." In this reader's opinion, Bush should be ashamed of himself. The Army had already investigated charges against her and taken steps to discipline her, this was an unnecessary slap in the face after being a career soldier with an exemplary record!
I know Bush was the "Commander in Chief" and needed to flex his muscles as such. I guess he felt like he had to be seen as doing something about that "awful situation that took place over there", but he should have chosen those higher up the chain of command to punish — like any of the MEN of higher rank that she would approach for assistance, only to be told "make it work, Janis!" (they were not even professional enough to address General Karpinski by her rank).
FACT: General Janis Karpinski and Colonial George Karpinski served a combined total of fifty-five years in the US Army.
General Karpinski writes "It is immensely difficult to accept these verdicts of my government and, yes, my Army when I know in my heart I did not deserve them." This reader could not agree more!
This book and others like it (I could give you a few titles) should be read by the same public that condemned General Janis Karpinski and the soldiers in her command. We were so ready to believe the media sh*tstorm and their attempts to condemn everyone in the military that served at all the prisons. That will never happen because those few "bad apples" overshadowed all of the hard work of the majority of all soldiers — active duty to reserves. The treatment of this honorable officer was uncalled for — her higher ups (like Generals Sanchez and Miller — and even Donald Rumsfeld) should have been disciplined, but those men never faced charges (ONLY because they were men).