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US general: I was told to treat prisoners like 'dog'

June 15, 2004
China Daily

The US army general who ran the notorious Abu Ghraib jail in Baghdad complained Tuesday that she was being made a "convenient scapegoat" for the mistreatment of Iraqi prisoners.

In an interview with BBC radio, Brigadier General Janis Karpinski also said she had been told by the then-head of the Guantanamo Bay prison to treat all detainees like "a dog".

Karpinski was suspended from her post in January this year, three months before photographs showing US guards abusing and sexually humiliating Iraq prisoners at Abu Ghraib were published in US newspapers.

She insisted she had never been aware of a Red Cross inspection of the prison's cell blocks 1A and 1B, which revealed abuses, as these were interrogation facilities run by US Military Intelligence.

"The interrogation operation was directed, it was under a separate command and there was no reason for me to go out to look at Abu Ghraib cell block 1A or 1B or visit the interrogation facilities because it was not in my lane," she said.

Karpinski had been completely trusted with running the prison, only to find her leadership suddenly questioned "very late in the game", she said, adding: "I believe I was a convenient scapegoat."

Karpinski also recounted receiving a visit from Major General Geoffrey Miller, who at the time ran the US detention facility for Al-Qaeda and Taliban suspects in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

He was later placed in overall charge of all US prisons across Iraq.

Miller told Karpinski: "At Guantanamo Bay we learned that the prisoners have to earn every single thing that they have," she recounted.

"He said they are like dogs, and if you allow them to believe at any point that they are more than a dog then you've lost control of them."

The US military has begun a series of legal hearings against lower-ranked soldiers accused of carrying out mistreatment at Abu Ghraib.

One has been brought to trial so far - Jeremy Sivits, who was sentenced on May 19 to a maximum one-year jail term for his role in the abuse and humiliation of detainees.

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