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Last Updated: Tuesday, 15 June, 2004, 11:10 GMT 12:10 UK
Iraq abuse 'ordered from the top'
Hooded prisoner handcuffed to an Abu Ghraib walkway (courtesy Washington Post)
Images of the abuse have shocked the world
The US commander at the centre of the Iraqi prisoner scandal says she was told to treat detainees like dogs.

Brig Gen Janis Karpinski told the BBC she was being made a "convenient scapegoat" for abuse ordered by others.

Top US commander for Iraq, Gen Ricardo Sanchez, should be asked what he knew about the abuse, she told BBC Radio 4's On The Ropes programme.

One soldier has been sentenced and six others are awaiting courts martial for abuses committed at Abu Ghraib jail.

Gen Karpinski said more damaging information was likely to emerge at those trials.

Gen Karpinski was in charge of the military police unit that ran Abu Ghraib and other prisons when the abuses were committed. She has been suspended but not charged.

More details awaited

Photographs showing naked Iraqi detainees being humiliated and maltreated first started to surface in April, sparking shock and anger across the world.

Gen Karpinski said military intelligence took over part of the Abu Ghraib jail to "Gitmoize" their interrogations - make them more like what was happening in the US detention camp at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, which is nicknamed "Gitmo".

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
General Karpinski

She said current Iraqi prisons chief Maj Gen Geoffrey Miller - who was in charge at Guantanamo Bay - visited her in Baghdad and said: "At Guantanamo Bay we learned that the prisoners have to earn every single thing that they have."

"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."

Gen Karpinski repeated that she knew nothing of the humiliation and torture of Iraq prisoners that was going on inside Abu Ghraib - she was made a scapegoat.

Top commander Ricardo Sanchez must be asked serious questions about what he knew about the abuse and when, she said.

Gen Sanchez said in May that he took a personal responsibility for the abuse by soldiers at Abu Ghraib jail. But he denied authorising interrogation techniques such as sleep deprivation, stress positions or sensory deprivation.

Last week, he asked to be excused from any role in reviewing the results of an investigation into the abuses. He requested that a higher-ranking general take on that task, Pentagon officials said.

Brig Gen Janis Karpinski and US Deputy Defence Secretary Paul Wolfowitz at Abu Ghraib jail, 20 July 2003
Karpinski fears she has been made a scapegoat
A US general who has investigated the abuse has blamed the soldiers - and found no evidence "of a policy or a direct order given to these soldiers to conduct what they did".

But Gen Karpinski believes the soldiers had not taken the pictures of their own accord.

"I know that the MP [military police] unit that these soldiers belonged to hadn't been in Abu Ghraib long enough to be so confident that one night or early morning they were going to take detainees out of their cells, pile them up and photograph themselves in various positions with these detainees."

"How it happened or why those photographs came to the Criminal Investigation Division's attention in January I think will probably come out very clearly at each individual's court martial."

On The Ropes can be heard on BBC Radio 4 on Tuesday 15 June at 0900 and 2100 BST.

Brigadier General Janis Karpinski
on BBC Radio 4's On The Ropes programme


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