“I don’t care if we’re holding 15,000 innocent civilians! We’re winning the war!”

(10 am. – promoted by ek hornbeck)


Brigadier General Janis R Karpinski:     “The secret here is getting these people released, and we’re holding innocent people out there. ”  

    And General Wodjakowski turned around and said to me ” I don’t care if we are holding 15,000 innocent civilians! We are winning the war! “

Cross-posted from dailykos.com

    That quote came from this 237 page official document which was released to the ACLU by a FOIA request. The actual quote by General Wodjakowski can be found on page 171.

    This document not only addresses the necessity and inability of our military to release detainees who were innocent and had no intelligence value at all, it touches upon the known abuse of innocent Iraqi citizens, as well as the over-crowded conditions within the detainees facilities.

    Rather than giving you my version of this document, I thought it would be more beneficial to allow you to read it for yourself and form your own opinion.

Within the full text Brigadier General Janis R Karpinski repeatedly informed her CO’s of past and continued abuse, as well as the fact that conditions in detainee facilities were close to (if not over the line of) being in violation of Geneva/Hague.

    I have transcribed part of the conversation between Major General George R. Fay, Depositions Officer (DO) and Brigadier General Janis R Karpinski, who is the deponent and witness in the document detailed below. (RC) represents the official Recorder and (DC) represents the Defense Counsel. Both of their names were REDACTED from the document.

Q.     So, my question is, to your knowledge, when did the abuses begin at Abu Ghraib?

A.     The reason I am asking is the prisons in all of the prison facilities are very austere. Logistics was not working very well because of the long line of supply. And the problems associated with getting convoys and equipment to Baghdad and then out from those operating bases. So, there was times when ~ when you kept prisoners under canvas, under tents, in blistering heat, without any sense of relief where they can get under the shade of a tree or anything else, it is close to being in violation of Geneva/Hague. And, often, we discussed that with the ICRC. But they saw it consistently in all of our facilities, and they knew that the soldiers were facing the same conditions. So, I know that that was going on throughout the theater so long as we were there, because it was something that ~ I don’t want to say that it is a condition of war ~ but it is. But the acts that were depicted in those photographs, I don’t believe they were occurring anywhere else than in cellblock 1A and B. And there were abuses early on down at Bucca ~ ~ ~

DO:    Not. I’m only referring to Abu Ghraib now.

A.     ~ ~ ~ But I don’t believe those activities or those abuses were taking place until the interrogation operation became so significant and the attention focused on the interrogation operations.

Q.     So, in regard to the calender, when do you believe the abuses began?

A.     When cellblock 1A went under the control of the military intelligence, and when these other intelligence teams started to come in and work the interrogation efforts. That would be October.

DO:    Well, it actually started in late September ~ I mean the actual 1A and 1B. MI started assigning people to 1A actually in September.

A.     September. But there were some things that took place from September on, that made it, unfortunately, easier for them to do these things in exclusion to the rest of the cellblock. They put up the exclusionary panels on the doors, so you didn’t have visual access, like you did in all of the other cellblocks, and they ~ ~ ~

Q.     That was in 1A or 1B?

A.     First in 1A and then in 1B.

Q.     And who put those panels up?

A.     The MI police said they needed something put up. They were going to talk to the engineers and that was the engineers design.

Q.     Who were the MI people that ~ ~ ~

A.     Colonel Papas.

Q.     Colonel Papas?

A.     Yes. And the reason he did was because, you know that door that you come in at the end of the cellblock, that was where the Iraqi guards came in to work. And because those particular prisoners in cellblock 1A and the juveniles and the females in 1B, they didn’t want the Iraqi corrections officers to then become a source of information outside the prison by saying, “Hey, I saw (REDACTED) So it’s plausible. ”

Q.    Yes. When did he order that? Was it after the Iraqi shooting? ”

A.    No. It was ~ ~ they wanted the exclusionary panels, as they called them, on the cell doors ~ ~ ~ they wanted those urgently on 1A, so they put it there ~ ~ ~ they were in control of both 1A and B, but they wanted it done in 1A, so that would have been the first week of October timeframe. And then they got em to do 1B, but they put the plywood over the windows after the handgun incident.

Q.     Which would have been Nov. 24th?

A.     Right. So you have effectively excluded anybody would walk the long hallway, checking on guards or anything ~ ~ it wasn’t that they wouldn’t open the door for you, but you had to announce that you were there and that you wanted to come in.

DO:    I just want to point out, and I’m thinking she said, but I just want to make sure it’s clear, she had no personal knowledge of any instructions that any of the MP’s were given in regards to interrogation techniques.

WIT:   Right.

DO:    Right. I did not perceive her as saying that, but I understand your clarification.

Q.     So, as far as the abuses, you do not have any direct knowledge of the abuses, but you believe that the abuses began somewhere in the September/October timeframe. Is that correct?

A.     Correct. And I would say, most likely, late October, because I had ~ ~ ~ I mean the 72nd MP company had served there and had run those cellblocks for many months, and the pictures that I saw, anyway, were people ~ ~ ~ soldiers from the 372nd, and they didn’t get there until ~ ~ or didn’t take over the operation until mid-October.

Q.     And the change in the FOB that we discussed was November 19th. So the abused began before that and continued on after that?

A.     I think it was a gradual increase on what was being done or how the being used to enhance the interrogation efforts.

Q.     Are you of the belief that it significantly increased after the FOB command was changed?

A.     I am of that belief, now. Yes, sir.

Q.     What leads you to that belief?

A.     There was a battalion out there that was ~ ~ it may or may not be in this FRAGO as well, but the LLRSD battalion that was sent out there ~ ~ ~ now there were a subordinate unit to the 205th anyway, but they were at a different, ~ ~ ~ I think they were up at Anaconda. So they got down there and they were kind of, generally, they were a little bit more aggressive and adventurous ~ ~ ~ more creative with what they did. And they caused some problems. Now, I have no knowledge that they were ever in the cellblocks or anything, but it was that whole shift in mentality that they were doing some of the force protection and ~ ~ ~

Q.     Yeah. That LLRSD ~ ~ ~ was it a company or a battalion?

A.     Battalion.

DO:    To my knowledge, they never ~ ~ ~

RC:    They had a company, sir. They had a company of the LLRSD.

DO:    Okay. Well, that unit, to my knowledge, never had a thing to do with interrogation operations.

WIT:   No. But it’s the whole shift in ~ ~ you know, they eat in the same mess hall, and ~ ~ it just seemed to be more reckless out there.

Q.     Since this change over.

A.     Yes, sir.

DC:    This is only of her opinion, sir, which is ~ ~

DO:    Yes, I understand. But I am trying to get at the logic of the opinion based on which facts, because the facts are what I am really trying to get at.

DC:    Yes, sir.

DO:    There’s opinion and then there’s opinion based on facts, and what I’m really trying to find out is the facts. So, you’re of the opinion that things started to get worse after the change of the FOB. And I’m just trying to find out what makes you think that, because you knew there was abuse before and there was abuse after.

Q.    What made you think it got worse?

A.    Well, first off I didn’t, and (REDACTED) is correct. I didn’t have any indication it was bad, let alone to know that it got worse. At the time, there was this prevailing change out at Abu Ghraib after the switch to Colonel Papas as the FOB commander. Number one, there was more people out there. There was a direction from the CJTF7 staff ~ ~ we were ~ they were trying to close Bucca, and they were trying to get as many of the detainees out of the division holding areas as possible, because some of them had population of several hundred. I think there was seven hundred in the 4th ID at one point. And those are definitely austere and temporary conditions, but they were transferring those prisoners, and then we were overfilled. And one night the 101st brought some prisoners in, flew them down, and they wouldn’t take them because they had nowhere to put them. They were sent back. So we got that sorted out, but what (REDACTED)(phonetic) the Provost Marshall, and the liaison from the CJTF7 staff was saying was, literally, ” Cram more tents into the compounds, ma’am. ”

    So, I said, ” No. I’m not going to cram more tents into the compound. The secret here is getting these people released, and we’re holding innocent people out there. ”  

    And General Wodjakowski turned around and said to me ” I don’t care if we are holding 15,000 innocent civilians! We are winning the war! ”

    I said, ” Not inside the wire, you are not, sir.”


Content transcribed ad verbatim from pages 163 to 171.

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  1. Because your legs can’t move forward if your head is buried in the sand.

    • Inky99 on May 24, 2009 at 6:52 am

    here, is about a retired U.S. Army Colonel, Ralph Peters, who says, among other things:

    “Although it seems unthinkable now, future wars may require censorship, news blackouts, and, ultimately, military attacks on the partisan media. Perceiving themselves as superior beings, journalists have positioned themselves as protected-species combatants. But freedom of the press stops when its abuse kills our soldiers and strengthens our enemies. Such a view arouses disdain today, but a media establishment that has forgotten any sense of sober patriotism may find that it has become tomorrow’s conventional wisdom.

    “The point of all this is simple: Win. In warfare, nothing else matters. If you cannot win clean, win dirty. But win.

    My point being that there are WAY too many military men in positions of power who have completly lost sight of what they are fighting for, and what their oath is.  They’re not fighting for Democracy, for the Constitution, for America, or anything, they are simply fighting “to win”.  At any costs.  And the ends justify the means, 1000%.

    It’s sick.

    • lysias on May 26, 2009 at 5:06 pm

    According to this Wikipedia entry, Maj. Gen. Walter Wojdakowski was Gen. Sanchez’s deputy in Iraq, serving as Deputy Commanding General of the former Combined Joint Task Force 7, later redesignated as Multi-National Force-Iraq and Multi-National Corps-Iraq.  He now commands Fort Benning.

    For a West Point graduate, he sure proved himself wrong by saying — I take it either in late 2003 or early 2004 — that we were winning the war in Iraq.

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