Head of Abu Ghraib Prison Speaks Out

It was announced this week that Army Col. Thomas Pappas, commander of the 205th Military Intelligence Brigade, has been relieved of his command as well. Pappas was not accused of ordering the prisoner abuse or participating in it, but the Army said some soldiers under his command were involved. No criminal charges were brought against him.

There also may be innocent Iraqis detained in Abu Ghraib prison, a practice that she fought against while she was in command, Karpinski said.

"We can do better than this as an Army and as a country. And I can tell you that from the military intelligence interrogators, they wanted to release -- after very brief initial interviews, or initial interrogations as they call them, to get basic information -- they wanted to release easily 80 percent of the prisoners that were being held at Abu Ghraib," she said. "Because they were in the wrong place at the wrong time, they had no actionable intelligence, they didn't know anything about any of the questions that they were asking them. But they weren't allowed to.

"And at one point, when I was protesting that, I was told, 'I don't care if we're holding 15,000 innocent Iraqis. We're winning the war,'" she said. "And my response was, 'Not inside the wire, you're not.' Because every person that we're holding who is innocent becomes our enemy the minute they walk out of any prison."

The former commander said her lawyers are pursuing whether there is anything they can do legally about her punishment.

"Janis Karpinski will not be silenced. You can do anything you want to do. Whatever you have in your bag to take action against me that you feel is necessary, go ahead and do it, because you're going to anyway with or without my permission.

"But they can't change history," she said. "I was a brigadier general. I was in command of 17 prison facilities and Abu Ghraib. I did have 3,400-plus soldiers working for me. I was proud to serve with each and every one of them."

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