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One Woman's Army: The Commanding General of Abu Ghraib Tells Her Story

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Janis Karpinski, the commander of the Abu Ghraib prison, tells the story of what happened there and more importantly why, disclosing tales of corruption in the military and criticising the chain of... This description may be from another edition of this product.

Customer Reviews

5 ratings

Ain't it the truth

She gives a believable insight to the nonchalant attitude of the higher military leaders that continue to this day. Many of us have fell victim to leader's incompetence and quest for promotion and the details she gives are accurate. Her background is impressive and that alone should have been enough to get her through this deployment without incident. She knew what had to be done but could not get the male commanders to care about the situation. She broke testosterone barriers throughout her career but still took the hit when the male officers bailed after everything hit the fan. Her book explains her elaborate and extensive background without gloating. Any commander in her position would have a difficult time and she describes in detail the walls and curtains put before her while she maintained her unit the best she could. Beautiful insight to military leadership during an American occupation.

Support her or blame her, the book is a 5-star achievement

The unvarnished truth of where responsibility belongs for the mistreatment of prisoners at Abu Ghraib may never be known. Karpinski, who was never accused of directing or even knowing about prisoner abuse, nonetheless accepts some responsiblity for what happended inasmuch as she oversaw the MPs who ran the prison -- but there were far too many other figures directly and indirectly involved (including intelligence specialists who were beyond her control) to conclude with assurance that she deserves labeling as the leading culprit or even a primary cause of the scandal. Her account of what she did in her few short months in Iraq preceding the unfortunate revelations is, therefore, must reading for anyone ambitious enough to attempt to piece together the whole story. Moreover, as hers appears to be the only account yet published by any of the principal Abu Ghraib players and also is a memoir of a 25-year army career that led to a generalship-- it is shocking that anyone could fairly deny this book the 5 stars it clearly deserves for providing so much valuable history. Karpinski had strong credentials when when she was chosen to take charge of: 17 prisons in Iraq, several thousand MPs, and many times that number of prisoners. She had risen through the ranks to be a rare female general, one of only two in the war zone when she arrived there a few months after the US took over Baghdad. The task assigned her had to be one of the most critical missions the army could bestow on anyone -- supervising the captivity of regular prisoners of war, as well as high-value remnants from Saddam's regime, suspected terrorists, and common criminals. All were necesarily being housed in horrendous facilities that had crumbled following Saddam's prisonser release just before the war broke out. Karpinski had won a bronze star during the first gulf war and had won master ranking as a parachutist with 100 jumps to her credit. Married to a Green Beret with nearly 30 years in service to the US, Karpinski comes across as a formidable woman, a recognized leader, and a dedicated patriot. Thus, it is heartbreaking to read of her demotion by the President following a hearing that focused on ancient allegations having nothing to do with Abu Ghraib, a sure sign that the Army believed it could not prove her to be at fault at Abu Ghraib. Her accounts of prejudice against and harassment of women througout her career are enlightening, if not surprising, as is the taint of being a reservist in Iraq.

An Honorable Career, Blighted by Betrayal

Colonel Karpinski earned the highest raiting for her autobiography because it spurred me to write to my congressman, senators, the President...and this review. Before the revelations in this book I had visions of Karpinski sitting back, watching her MPs play "pick up sticks" with their piles of prisoners. Now I realize she truly had no knowledge of abuse and understand how this ignorance was possible. I did not know her mission in Iraq was to construct from scratch and run 17 prisons. That Iraq's prison system had been destroyed by Saddam and she had to make these prisons available not only to our POWs, (later "detainees,") but also for the common Iraqi criminal element. The 800th MP Brigade, a patchwork quilt of various Reserve Companies, was woefully understaffed and under supplied; and as Reservists rather than regular Army, their needs were not a priority. As units were sent home they were not replaced, so Karpinski was faced with the challenge of guarding an ever burgeoning prison population with fewer and fewer troops. She had to play chess with the companies guarding her various prisons and move them around to procure maximum efficiency with minimum coverage. At Abu Ghraib there was the additional challenge of operating in a combat zone under almost daily motar attacks with threats of suicide bombings and ground assaults without the backing nor protection of combat troops. This was how the untrained soldiers from the 372nd MP Co came to Abu Ghraib and unbeknownst to Karpinski were pressed by civilian interrogators into "softening up" prisoners before interrogations. The MPs' job is to transport, care for and guard prisoners, not interrogate; but after Rumsfeld's order to extract "actionable intelligence," incredible pressure was exerted to obtain information, and the table was set for disaster. Ironically, the Army is not angry about the abusive interrogation techniques taught by Maj Gen Miller from Guantanamo Bay and used at Abu Ghraib, but that the MPs were foolish enough to share the pictures. Before those photos became public, Karpinski wanted to go to the Arabic and Western press to expose the abuse, apologize and start investigations, but was silenced by her superiors. They were busy covering their own asses and setting up Karpinski as the scapgoat. It is infuriating that now they are all blithely continuing their careers, most of them with promotions. One reason Karpinski wrote this book was to point out her career should not be defined by Abu Ghraib. Her rise from school teacher to General is a more satisfying story than her fall. Her struggles to fit into our macho military yet keep her femininity, her decisions to join the military police and also earn a set of parachute wings in jump school, her experiences in the Middle East including being awarded a Bronze Star in the 1st Iraqi war and helping the United Arab Emirates train and integrate women into their military...these are some of the milestones that should define a proud a

Karpinski - Scapegoat or Torturemeister?

Was this woman's career sacrificed to protect the chain of command leading from Abu Ghraib to Gitmo to SecDef Rumsfeld? Her demotion, paired with the convictions of Grainer and England, conveniently avoid the fact that Defense Intelligence Agency took control of Abu Ghraib from her prior to the torture photos. Also conveniently omitted from the official story was the role of the private intelligence contractors who, of course, were not bound by military rules but operated independently in facilities ostensibly operated under Karpinski's command but clearly out of her control. Get the real story from the inside, spin-free.

Bombshell - I now understand it all

You probably won't see this book on Fox News but this book is explosive. You'll have to stop every few pages and to absorb it all. From news reports I initially thought that General Karpinski had to be the incompetent military officer in history for letting all that go on in the prison and claims to know nothing about it. But something just didn't feel right about the whole thing. Missing pieces of the puzzle made the whole thing stink to high heaven. Now get the real story. Make no mistake - this IS the real story. General Karpinski was not permitted by her boss to even enter the area of the prison where the torture took place. She even was ordered not to release prisoners proven to be innocent. When she tried to break the whole wide open she was sacrified. Thay is only the tip of the iceberg of this story. Karpinski was thrown to wolves as a scapegoat while the real criminals patted themselves on the back. This is a story of a government out of control. Professional military officers were shut out and not allowed to do their jobs under the law. The story of Abu Ghraib told by General Karpinski is amazing and credible. She tells of mercenaries used by military intelligence, and instances where prison guards fired by departments of corrections for brutality were recruited for use in Iraq. You will read this with your jaw dropped. I couldn't believe what I was reading. But the information checks out. The general is very credible and her story does shed new light on elements of this story that never made any sense to me. Now it is all clear. It finally makes sense and the missing pieces to the puzzle are finally all together. This is a story of a cancer in the US hierarchy. This book will blow your mind. Karpinski exposes the lies. All good patriotic Americans need to read this book. The story is not a new one, it's actually familiar. It has happened before. After you read this book you'll know what I'm talking about. This book needs to get out. Everyone needs to read this story of corruption, lying and Rove's "reality". People belong in prison over this and I am not talking about Karpinski. I would say that this is the most important book of the year without doubt. Read the real story, not the Fox News propaganda written by Bush's Ministry of Truth.
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