Some Loaded Comments at ‘Abu Ghraib’ Screening
When the lights go up after most documentary screenings, you usually can expect a politely snoozy lovefest at the "panel discussion to follow." So the folks who turned out for the preview of HBO’s "Ghosts of Abu Ghraib" at the Ronald Reagan Building last night were unusually lucky.
Among the VIPs on hand to discuss the Rory Kennedy project (set to air Feb. 22) were Uncle Ted Kennedy and Sen. Lindsey Graham. The latter livened things up in a big way when he denounced Army Col. Janis Karpinski, who was demoted from brigadier general after the prison torture scandal.
"Karpinski should have been court-martialed," said the South Carolina Republican, who sits on the Armed Services Committee. "She was not a good commander."
Awkward! For who was in the audience but Karpinski herself. "I consider you as cowardly as [Lt. Gen. Ricardo] Sanchez or [Donald] Rumsfeld or [former Guantanamo Bay commander Geoffrey] Miller," she shot back. "You’re saying I should be court-martialed — they didn’t want me in a courtroom because I would tell" the truth. Graham sputtered clumsily until moderator Jeffrey Toobin jumped in.
Afterward, Karpinski told our colleague Michael Cavna: "Ninety-nine percent of the story is still covered up. . . . Miller and Sanchez and Rumsfeld should be in those cells" with the Army guards who were found guilty.
Maybe Lindsey Graham has gotten a little too accustomed to speaking frankly on "Meet the Press," and neglected to consider the possibility that at a live speaking event, the person you’re talking about just might be there.
I don’t know who’s right here (although I’ve always blamed Rumsfeld), but I know I don’t want to make Col. Karpinski mad at me. I’m just going by her pictures (although she is smiling in this one, bless her heart). She looks like somebody you’d rather have on your side, or just avoid. Perhaps that’s her misfortune; her rather severe habitual expression makes her a convenient scapegoat (the "evil lady torturer" from Central Casting). Or perhaps she’s just as culpable as Miller and Sanchez and Rumsfeld and the Army guards who were convicted. There were probably no angels anywhere near the situation.
I just don’t know. But it would have been interesting, and perhaps enlightening, to have her testify.