MP general ousted from post in Iraq

She had overall command of soldiers accused in Abu Ghraib prison abuses

May 25, 2004|By Tom Bowman | Tom Bowman,SUN NATIONAL STAFF

WASHINGTON - Brig. Gen. Janis L. Karpinski, the overall commander of the military police accused of abusing Iraqi detainees at Abu Ghraib prison, who was disciplined for "serious deficiencies" in handling her troops, has been removed from command of her brigade, officials said yesterday.

Karpinski commanded the 800th Military Police Brigade, which temporarily included the Maryland-based 372nd Military Police Company and the seven of its soldiers who were criminally charged. She has been reassigned to the U.S. Army Reserve Readiness Command at Fort Jackson, S.C. , said Al Schilf, a spokesman for the Army Reserve.

"This was done not as a punitive measure but a temporary reassignment of duties pending review of her situation by the commanding general, Army Reserve Command," Schilf said, referring to Lt. Gen. James R. Helmly, the commanding officer. "General Helmly is reviewing her case in light of Maj. Gen. [Antonio] Taguba's report and other information."

The Taguba report, which found widespread abuses at the prison near Baghdad, recommended that Karpinski be relieved of command and be given a letter of reprimand for 11 deficiencies in her command. Those included failure to ensure that her soldiers were trained and were following procedures for the handling of detainees.

Karpinski's removal from command of the 800th, which she took over last year, was expected. She had received a letter of admonishment in January from the top American commander in Iraq, Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez, saying that poor leadership "permeates the brigade," according to the Taguba report. The report added that there were "serious deficiencies in her brigade."

Since the scandal broke last month with a report on CBS' 60 Minutes II, Karpinski has mounted a vigorous defense of her leadership in television and newspaper interviews. She has increasingly placed the blame for the scandal on others, including Sanchez.

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