Report: Demoted General Details Alleged Shoplifting Incident

By The Associated Press

Friday, May 13, 2005

SANTA CLARITA, Calif. (AP) — Former Brig. Gen. Janis Karpinski, who served as military police commander at Abu Ghraib, said she was never arrested or charged in an alleged shoplifting incident, and the Army only brought the allegation to demote her after the Iraq prison scandal broke, a newspaper reported in Friday's editions.
    Karpinski was demoted to colonel last week after the Army's inspector general investigated four allegations against her, including: dereliction of duty, making a "material misrepresentation" to investigators, failure to obey a lawful order and shoplifting. Only the shoplifting and dereliction of duty allegations were substantiated.
    Karpinski has repeatedly denied shoplifting. She said the allegation arose from a 2002 incident at an Air Force base store in Florida while she held the rank of colonel.
    In an interview with The Signal of Santa Clarita, Karpinski said she removed a bottle of facial cream from her purse then returned it while rummaging for her cell phone.
    Though a security guard mistakenly believed the bottle belonged to the shop, store personnel later concluded it was her property and had been "clearly partially used."
    "They had nothing about Abu Ghraib to use against me," Karpinski told The Signal, "so they pull this flaky allegation out and use it to demote me? ... To save face? To mislead the American public yet again?"
    Army spokeswoman Pamela Hart said the demotion was unrelated to prison scandal but resulted in part from Karpinski's "leadership failures" and the shoplifting allegation.
    "... Her validated shoplifting was also a factor," Hart said. "As a general officer, she would have been obligated to report prior offenses on her security questionnaire, which I do not believe was the case."
    Karpinski maintains the shoplifting allegation didn't surface until she returned from Iraq in April 2004, after the prison abuse scandal had already broke.
    Repeated requests under the Freedom of Information Act to learn the basis for the shoplifting allegation were ignored or didn't yield any information, she said. Her legal officers were allowed to review the Army inspector general's files for documentation, but "there was nothing to substantiate" the allegations.
    On May 3, the Army announced it had demoted her back to colonel, after getting required approval from President Bush. The demotion means her career in the military, where officers must rise in rank or leave, is effectively over.
    Karpinski also received a written reprimand and was formally relieved of command of the 800th Military Police Brigade.