Ex-Abu Ghraib boss 'able to exhale'

April 23, 2009 at 8:16 AM

NEW YORK, April 23 (UPI) -- A former Abu Ghraib prison chief in Iraq says newly released Bush-era memos back up her contention she was unfairly punished for aggressive interrogations.

Retired Army Col. Janis Karpinski, who was demoted from brigadier general after notorious leaked pictures of prisoner treatment created a worldwide furor in 2004, said all along she was following orders.

The photos captured images of naked prisoners stacked on top of each other or being threatened by dogs, hooded, wired up for shock treatment and other punishments.

In an interview with CNN, Karpenski said she felt she had found validation in what she had been saying throughout the ordeal after seeing memos released last week by the Obama administration.

"I did feel this sense of being able to exhale after five years," Karpinski said. "That is what we have been saying from the very beginning."

She was one of two officers punished over the prison affair. A second officer, Col. Thomas Pappas, the commander of the military intelligence unit assigned to Abu Ghraib, was relieved of duty and fined. Nine others were disciplined.

"The outrage was over the photographs, because the photographs were living color of what those top-secret memorandums authorized," Karpinski said.

The U.S. Senate Armed Forces Committee released a report Tuesday, five days after the memos were released, stating that senior Bush administration officials had authorized aggressive interrogation techniques on suspected terrorists. The report pointed to then Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld's approval of the techniques.

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