The Rittenhouse Review

A Philadelphia Journal of Politics, Finance, Ethics, and Culture

Saturday, May 08, 2004  

E-Mails Sent to New Jersey Minister

Brig. Gen. Janis Karpinski, at the center of the Abu Ghraib prison scandal has been writing home.

Well, not home exactly, since she lives in Hilton Head, S.C., but to Rev. Howard Bryant of the First Presbyterian Church in Rahway, N.J., her hometown.

And not writing, exactly, since this is after all the 21st century, but sending e-mails.

Below are excerpts from “Jail Commander Wrote of Her Distress,” by John Hassell, the Newark Star-Ledger, May 7, 2004:

“Baghdad is worse than your dreams could ever tell you.”

“Contrary to some media reports, we are doing the right thing here in Baghdad and throughout Iraq. My soldiers are working diligently to restore prisons and corrections facilities. Many Iraqis cannot understand why we spent so much time, effort and money taking care of prisoners. They say these are criminals and bad people and money is much better spent taking care of improvements in this country.”

“Democracy is a foreign concept for the vast majority of Iraqis, so quite naturally humane treatment of prisoners doesn’t make sense to them either. We have more than 12,000 detainees in facilities throughout Iraq. Establishing a safe, secure environment remains a long road ahead.”

“I find myself relying very heavily on my faith, and have managed so far because of it. There certainly have been, and no doubt will still be, many tests of one’s faith and beliefs, in this setting. I cannot imagine trying to do any of what I do without God’s constant help, inspiration, strength and direction.”

“We’re satisfied with what we’ve accomplished, yet plenty remains to be done. There will always be work to do in restoring human dignity and freeing the oppressed.”

“I am confident we did and have done everything possible in an earnest effort to do the right things. Some things are simply out of my control. We do not always have the advantage of knowing the real objective so we have to trust there are others who will do the right things.

“Several of my soldiers are clearly guilty and will be punished. Their acts were deplorable. I am not convinced the fallout is indicative of an entire brigade’s professionalism. So we have to wait and get an opinion from someone else.”

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