LONDON – The American general who was in charge of Iraq's Abu Ghraib (search) prison claimed she was being made a scapegoat for the abuse of detainees, and said her successor once told her that prisoners should be treated "like dogs."
In an interview with British Broadcasting Corp. radio broadcast Tuesday, Brig. Gen. Janis Karpinski (search) said Maj. Gen. Geoffrey Miller (search) told her last autumn that prisoners "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."
Miller was in charge of the Guantanamo Bay detention camp and now oversees U.S. prisons in Iraq.
Karpinski was suspended last month from command of the 800th Military Police Brigade after she and other officers were faulted by Army investigators for paying too little attention to the prison's day-to-day operations and not acting strongly enough to discipline soldiers for violating standard procedures.
Several soldiers are facing courts-martial over abuse allegations at the jail, which flared when pictures of troops abusing and humiliating naked Iraqi detainees were published in April.
In her defense, Karpinski has said that interrogations at the prison were not under her command but were run by a military intelligence unit that was "under increasing pressure to get more, as they call it, actionable intelligence."
Karpinski said that during a visit to Iraq in September, Miller — still the commander at the Guantanamo Bay prison — spoke of wanting to "Gitmoize" Abu Ghraib by applying the Cuban facility's regimented detention and interrogation techniques.
"He talked about Gitmoizing in terms of what the (military police) were going to do; he was going to select the MPs, they were going to receive special training," she said.
"That training was going to come from the military intelligence command," Karpinski added, noting that the troops under her command had no training in such interrogation techniques.
Karpinski said she was being made "a convenient scapegoat" in the abuse scandal.
"The interrogation operation was directed; it was under a separate command and there was no reason for me to go out to look at Abu Ghraib at cell block 1a or 1b or visit the interrogation facilities," she said.
Karpinski said she was unaware until November that the International Committee of the Red Cross had visited the jail and expressed concerns about detainees' treatment to U.S. officials. She said she did not see the abuse photos — believed to have been taken late last year — until late January.
"I didn't know in September, I didn't know in October, I didn't know ever" about any abuse, she said.
"Those pictures which I saw on the 23rd of January were more shocking to me than probably the rest of the world ... I was absolutely sickened by those images and I couldn't even fathom a guess as to what happened to these people to make them go in such an opposite direction of how they were trained."