General loses star over prison abuse

May 5, 2005 at 7:06 PM
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WASHINGTON, May 5 (UPI) -- Brigadier Gen. Janis Karpinski, who was in charge of the Abu Ghraib Prison in Iraq at the time of the abuse scandal, has been reduced in rank to colonel.

Karpinski is the most senior officer to be punished.

The Army issued a report Thursday saying that an inspector general investigation found Karpinski alone among senior officers guilty of dereliction of duty. She was also found to be guilty of shoplifting, in an unrelated matter.

However, the Army report exonerated her of direct responsibility for the abuse of prisoners.

"Though Brig. Gen. Karpinski's performance of duty was found to be seriously lacking, the investigation determined that no action or lack of action on her part contributed specifically to the abuse of detainees at Abu Ghraib," the report said.

Karpinski was the commander of the 800 military police brigade and had responsibility for all prisons in Iraq. She was officially relieved of command of the brigade on April 8. Because she served for less than 18 months, she was also eligible for a rank reduction as an added punishment.

The report fully exonerated Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez, the commander of U.S. trops in Iraq, his deputy, Maj. Gen. Walter Wojdakowski, and his senior intelligence chief, Maj. Gen. Barbara Fast.

The Army said Thursday that 25 percent of the punishments handed out over Abu Ghraib have been to officers, an attempt to counter the perception that low-level soldiers are being scapegoated for senior officers' failures of leadership.

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