- The Washington Times - Thursday, May 20, 2004

We know conclusively that the Abu Ghraib abuse scandal is as phony as a Bill Clinton sex denial because there are no calls for the resignation of the one individual most responsible for the abuses.

That would be the officer in charge of Abu Ghraib and all U.S. military prisons in Iraq, the commander of the 800th Military Police Brigade, Army Brig. Gen. Janis Karpinski. And why have there been no calls for her resignation? Let’s be honest. It is because she is a woman.

Thus the frightening lesson of the abuse scandal: Political correctness trumps national security, even in wartime.

Yes, Democratic demagogues are willing to sacrifice America’s national security, to trash the morale and honor of American soldiers risking their lives in Iraq and lose the war on terrorism in order to defeat President Bush in November, so they use the abuse scandal as an excuse to go after Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld. But be assured that if Gen. Karpinski was a man, demands for his accountability would be loud and clear.

It would be expected that if Gen. Karpinski were a man, he would have taken those demands like a man. But Gen. Karpinski is not and so has not. She has taken them like a woman — whining, making excuses and complaining that it’s not her fault, that she’s being “scapegoated.”

I am waiting for feminists, or any woman who is simply proud of being female, to denounce Janis Karpinski as reinforcing the negative stereotype of women unable to accept responsibility and humiliating her gender worse than were the Abu Ghraib prisoners under her jurisdiction.

In fact, we owe the entire Abu Ghraib scandal to the leadership failure and gross incompetence of Janis Karpinski and to her superiors’ fear of doing anything about her ineptitude because she is a woman. She should have been relieved of her command last summer but was not.

Near the town of Mahawil in southern Iraq, U.S. Marines uncovered a mass gravesite holding the remains of some 15,000 Iraqis. They were slaughtered for taking part in the Shia uprising against Saddam Hussein in the early 1990s. Saddam’s agent responsible for conducting the mass killings was Mohammed Jawad Anayfas; the grave site is on land owned by him.

In July 2003, Mr. Anayfas was captured by U.S. forces and turned over to the Military Police Brigade under Gen. Karpinski’s command. The Brigade Headquarters managed to lose his paperwork. So instead of contacting her superiors, Gen. Karpinski ordered Mr. Anayfas set free. Soon thereafter, Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz came to Iraq and visited the Mahawil gravesite, where he was informed by Marine Lt. Gen. James Conway how outraged the local Iraqis were over Mr. Anayfas’ release. Visibly upset, Mr. Wolfowitz vowed Mr. Anayfas would be recaptured and tried as a war criminal. Mr. Anayfas is still at large, and Gen. Karpinski received no reprimand.

When confronted by the Iraqi public outcry for Mr. Anayfas — only one of several war criminals whose paperwork was lost that she released — Gen. Karpinski proceeded to evade responsibility and fabricated an entire string of deceptive excuses — just like she is doing now.

Mr. Wolfowitz knew of Gen. Karpinski’s incompetence and evasion of responsibility last summer — and did nothing. Even he lacks the courage to question the political correctness of feminizing the American military.

Such feminization is epitomized by Lynndie “they told me to hold the leash” England, the Army private happily smiling in the infamous photos and pointing to a prisoner’s exposed genitals. She, too, has hired lawyers who loudly declare she’s just an innocent “farm girl” and nothing but a “scapegoat.” No more than Gen. Karpinski is she willing to accept responsibility for her actions.

In his investigation of the abuses, Maj. Gen. Antonio Taguba recommended that Gen. Karpinski be relieved of her command. Even though she received a letter of admonishment from Joint Task Force-7 Commander Ricardo Sanchez, she has only been suspended from her command, not relieved.

The true scandal of Abu Ghraib is the unwillingness of the female military personnel involved to do a mea culpa. If there is any vast conspiracy on the part of their superior officers, it is not to “scapegoat” them, but to refuse to treat them as men, as accountable and responsible as men.

Mr. Rumsfeld stood straight up to the world and accepted responsibility for Abu Ghraib. He took it like a man. War is not woman’s work. It is man’s work — not because men are more brutal or stronger, but because they can endure the stresses of combat and be accountable for the failures those stresses inevitably create. They don’t whine, deviously evade, blame others, make up excuses and whimper, “It’s not my fault!” If they do, they are despised and looked upon with contempt by their male comrades.

Gen. Janis Karpinksi deserves America’s contempt. She deserves to be court-martialed and dishonorably discharged. If she wishes to regain some small measure of respect from her fellow citizens — and her own self-respect — she needs to stand up, accept her responsibility and take it like a man.

Jack Wheeler is publisher of To The Point, an online geopolitical analysis service at www.tothepointnews.com.