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The Warden Takes No Prisoners

by Steve Young

Steve Young columns

Call 'em the Bush bombthrowers.

The list is getting long -- Scott Ritter, Richard Clarke, Joe Wilson, Valerie Plame, Cindy Sheehan -- all who might have been once considered faithful friends of the Bush administration, until they opted for the greatest transgression: They told the truth.

Former Marine Ritter tread through the home fields of evil-doer Saddam looking for WMD, then screamed to 90 percent of America who didn't want to hear it, "There ain't none!" Counter-terrorism expert, Richard Clarke, who worked for the last three Republican Presidents including George W, told the 9/11 commission that America owed the victims of 9/11 an apology for a massive screw up. Hailed as "truly inspiring" and "courageous" by W's dad, Ambassador Joe Wilson 'splained to the CIA that "Yellowcake's a fake." Plame was just a spy who they outed because...well, because they could. As for Cindy Sheehan, no one tougher than a mother who's found that the cause her son had died for was not a cause at all. Not a soft target among them.

But exposing a misstep within the Bush administration assures one's character and life will be ripped to shreds and converted into anti-American, hate-the-troops, bullseye for the White House to peddle. Bush administration talking points are served up like raw meat to the damnation chuckers of the cabinet, Congress, the Robert Novaks, and especially, the broadcast Lords of Loud.

But the Lords of Loud and the White House may be facing their most challenging task yet. Entering the fray comes the newest, and perhaps most strong-headed whistleblower of 'em all: The former commandant of the infamous Abu Ghraib prison -- Janis Karpinski.

This lady is not a tramp. She's military; spent more time serving her country in a war torn country than her boss did serving a country he's ended up tearing apart. She even had a star on her shoulder -- until she displayed the courage that got her the star in the first place. Come this October, her new book, "One Woman's Army...The Commanding General of Abu Ghraib Tells Her Story," comes out and she will be dishing names, crimes, and culpability.

  • General Geoffrey Miller developed torture tactics in Guantanamo and Rumsfeld told Miller to bring those same tactics to Abu Ghraib
  • Miller brought in outside military contractors who answered to no one and were not held exempt for any crimes they might commit in Iraq -- including murder
  • Outside military contractors, ignored by the Justice Department, oversaw and suggested much of the tactics the low level servicemen were charged and found guilty of
  • Chief of Staff of the Army, General Cody, actually stopped requests for armored vehicles and protective vests to be prioritized for our soldiers in Iraq. Rumsfeld knew it and wanted it just that way; General Cody picked up an additional star for playing along
  • Every investigation into the military and Rumsfeld's Defense Department's responsibility for malfeasance was run by people who could have lost their job with Rumsfeld's say-so

And just to cover anything Karpinski might have missed -- anyone who confronts this Administration or Rumsfeld or the Pentagon with a true assessment soon finds themselves fired, relieved or chastised. In short, their career comes to an end.

So, I'm going to go out on a limb and making a prediction: The moment her book hits the shelf, talk radio and TV will attack Karpinski with every weapon in Karl Rove's arsenal.

Hannity will call her "the worst kind of traitor," then add a litany of distortions based on what she did or didn't do thirty years ago.

O'Reilly will call her a "Leftist looney" for "politicizing the war" and "endangering our men and women overseas." He might even invite her on his show just to throw her out of the studio.

"She's trying to sell a book, folks," Limbaugh will bluster, "and she's got a grudge. Disgraced by her own inaction, she has no better way to make money than by maligning those who exposed her for what she is: a feminazi who can't find a decent job...or a guy."

Savage will call her "a lesbian who's just pissed at being outed as a traitor."

They will have a bit of ammunition to load up. Karpinski didn't leave the military with her star intact. She was demoted to colonel because of late-coming and disputed shoplifting charge, but with this administration's penchant for assassinating the messenger to distract from the issue at hand, there's always a reason to question the validity of any accusation. Karpinski says it's bogus.

But the pundits may just want to makes sure they have a bunker to duck for cover for this target just may fire right back. Even former generals didn't get to be generals by backing down -- that is of course, unless you want to continue to serve under the Bush administration. Ask General Shinseki.

Making her story more difficult to ignore, this former General is getting plenty of backup from others in the military who don't seem to have a reason for a grudge. A report by Human Rights Watch describes an Army captain's 17-month effort to gain a clear understanding for how U.S. soldiers were supposed to treat detainees. He saw a widespread abuse that the military failed to deal with. And just like Karpinski, this Army officer maintains that lower level soldiers have been held responsible for abuse to cover for officers who condoned it.

Karpinski's book comes out next month and the war with Bush's defenders will be bloody. I'm not sure who will end up winning, but my guess is, that the Lords of Loud will run out of bullets before the truth runs out of targets.

Steve Young's interview with Karpinski can be heard on the KTLK AM1150 website

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Albion Monitor September 24, 2005 (

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