Ignoring Rape In Iraq

By Justin Gardner | Related entries in Bad Decisions, Military, War

Jeezus, this is heartbreaking stuff.

“It was out of control,” [Col. Janis] Karpinski told a group of students at Thomas Jefferson School of Law last October. There was an 800 number women [soldiers] could use to report sexual assaults. But no one had a phone, she added. And no one answered that number, which was based in the United States. Any woman who successfully connected to it would get a recording. Even after more than 83 incidents were reported during a six-month period in Iraq and Kuwait, the 24-hour rape hot line was still answered by a machine that told callers to leave a message.

So it’s understandable then that female soldiers were afraid to leave their barracks at night for fear of being raped by their male counterparts. What was their solution? Don’t go to the bathroom. Yes…simply don’t go to the bathroom.

And to make sure they didn’t have to go they stopped drinking liquids at 3 or 4 in the afternoon. Unfortunately, you need to keep well hydrated in a desert climate or face the serious consequences of dehydration…one of which is death.

And what happened when our female soldiers started dying from dehydration? Well, Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez ordered that the cause of their death be kept secret. Yes, that Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez.

Read the whole sad story here.


This entry was posted on Tuesday, January 31st, 2006 and is filed under Bad Decisions, Military, War. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

23 Responses to “Ignoring Rape In Iraq”

  1. Brainster Says:

    Try digging on this story a little further; you’ll soon see that Karpinski’s full of it. You could try checking some of the websites that list the female US deaths in Iraq, and the cause of death:

    http://icasualties.org/oif/female.aspx

    And you’d quickly see that it’s highly unlikely that this story is true. Also you could dig into Karpinski’s other wild claims, like the time she saw an Israeli interrogator in an Iraqi jail:

    http://www.cnn.com/2004/WORLD/meast/07/03/israel.iraq/index.html

    Or, you know, you could convince everybody that you’re somebody who takes what Truthout says as gospel.

  2. Justin Gardner Says:

    The casualty list is compelling, but there ARE five women on that list who have died from unspecified, non hostile injuries. Remember, Karpinski said several women, not dozens.

    Personally, I’m going to take a wait and see attitude on this one. If it’s true, it’s tragic. If it’s not, well, Karpinski lied and I’d be MORE than happy to call a liar out on their BS. But it’s really hard to resolve Karpinski simply making this up out of the clear blue sky. The whole “disgruntled employee” stuff doesn’t fly with me as an explanation in these situations.

    And as far as the Israeli story…well, do either you or I know that an Israeli wasn’t there? Sure the government is going to deny that, but it doesn’t make it not true. There’s a host of things we don’t yet know about Abu Ghraib, so, again, I’m not ready to simply dismiss Karpinski as a liar.

    As for taking what Truthout says as gospel…well…read more of my posts on this site and you’ll understand why asserting that is just plain ridiculous. Obviously you’re coming from a very specific partisan viewpoint and one post like this may seem telling. I hope you reconsider that position, because I’ve been accused of the same thing by guys like Gateway Pundit, and even people in his own comments section immediately questioned him after reading more of this site.

  3. Brainster Says:

    Sorry, didn’t mean to make that come off so personal, but the story doesn’t pass the sniff test. Yeah, there are a couple women whose cause of death is not specified; but how about the specific incident she cites in September of ’03 involving a master sergeant? There’s only one female sergeant listed in the body count prior to 9/03, who died in early July (from a weapons discharge according to the site). So in order to buy her story you have to believe that a Death Certificate for her wasn’t issued for two months.

    Read her interview with David Hackworth from 2004 (cited in the Truthout article):

    http://www.worldnetdaily.com/news/article.asp?ARTICLE_ID=40557

    And she’s talking about Kuwait:

    “I reminded BG Diamond he was in Kuwait, not the middle of Iraq,” Karpinski told me, “and there was no excuse for not lighting up the walkways to the showers and latrines. He said he had other priorities, and he didn’t want to call attention to the locations of the facilities.”

    But now it’s about Iraq:

    The latrine for female soldiers at Camp Victory wasn’t located near their barracks, so they had to go outside if they needed to use the bathroom. “There were no lights near any of their facilities, so women were doubly easy targets in the dark of the night,” Karpinski told retired US Army Col. David Hackworth in a September 2004 interview.

    Camp Victory is in Iraq, near the Baghdad Airport.

    Think about this logically for a second. You’re worried about getting raped, so what do you do? Well, the smart thing would be either to go to the latrine in a group, or pee in a bucket/bottle; who in their right mind would stop drinking water?

    For some other reasons why Karpinski might be lying, remember that she’s claiming that she was fired because she was a woman. Charges like these play to the feminist base (look at all the feminist blogs that picked it up).

  4. Brian in MA Says:

    I dunno, after looking at the source of this news (the Homepage tells all), I’m inclined to believe it has as much credit as The Daily Kos when it comes to factual information about the War in Iraq. Namely, their philosophy is that any information that would hurt Bush or the Miltary is fine to post regardless of whether it is true or not.

    This seems like just another Rathergate Word Document or Newsweek Flush. The problem is they are trying to sell it to a discerning blogosphere, not pumping it into a bunch of mindless followers of whatever the magic box puts out.

    Our military is not a gang of rapists, they have laws and ordinances to follow with SEVERE consequences if they don’t abide by them. Who looks on a background check and finds “court marshall and dishonorable discharge” a fine trait in a candidate? And that is AFTER the military is done kicking you out.

  5. Justin Gardner Says:

    Indeed. But sometimes the military does sit on death certificates for a couple months. At least that’s according to somebody in the Pentagon’s PR office I know. You think it’s more likely that Karpinski is lying. I don’t. Right now, we’re both right.

    And by the way, the issues of rape and sexual assault have always been a problem between young men and women. Why should we believe that young men and women who are in combat changes that situation? And nothing in Karpinski’s remarks says she thinks the military is a “gang of rapists”, but could they be turning a blind eye to this behavior? Perhaps. The section I quote in particular seems almost too ridiculous to be true, but if it is, why in the hell is our military conducting their sexual assualt programs like this?

    And yes, I agree that the types of stories on Alternet can give the guise of completely unreliability because of their partisan nature, but this one caught my eye as one that may be have some validity.

    Again, I’m still going to wait and see.

  6. Karl Gallagher Says:

    Female soldier, just back from Iraq, calls BS on it. Never had trouble finding latrines.
    http://soldiergrrrl.livejournal.com/314093.html

  7. Justin Gardner Says:

    Good for her. But that doesn’t mean what Karpinski said didn’t happen Karl, so don’t confuse the two.

    Also, nobody said anybody had trouble finding the latrines. Here IS what she said.

    The latrine for female soldiers at Camp Victory wasn’t located near their barracks, so they had to go outside if they needed to use the bathroom. “There were no lights near any of their facilities, so women were doubly easy targets in the dark of the night,” Karpinski told retired U.S. Army Col. David Hackworth in a September 2004 interview.

    So, in fact, soldiergrrrl actually confirms one of Karpinski’s points: that bathrooms were far enough from barracks to potentially prove problematic at night. You ever walk 1/10th of a mile to get to a bathroom? Do you know how long that is? I won’t got into the math, but it’s 1.75 football fields. That’s a haul, and could be far enough away for trouble to happen AND for nobody to hear you, agreed?

  8. Brainster Says:

    “You think it’s more likely that Karpinski is lying. I don’t. Right now, we’re both right.”

    You mean right now we don’t know if she’s lying, not that both of us are right. Do I buy that some latrines aren’t well lit? Sure. Do I buy that some women were raped? Yep. Do I buy that at times there was fear going to the latrine? Yes. Do I buy that women denied themselves water so they wouldn’t have to pee at night and died of dehydration? I’m extremely skeptical.

  9. Karl Gallagher Says:

    Do you know how long that is?

    Um . . . between 500 and 600 feet. I’ve gone much further than that for a bathroom. By what standard is this considered a “haul”? Now I’ll agree it’s enough distance for trouble to happen, 20 feet can be plenty for that. But it’s not walking into a cave, it’s walking past barracks of mostly-law abiding male soldiers. So any noise–such as firing the weapons they’re issued–would be heard right away. So no, not agreed.

    I grant you don’t have much chance to go on military field operations, Justin, but bring a pedometer the next time you go to a Ren Faire. You’d be amazed how far apart those portapotties are.

  10. Justin Gardner Says:

    You mean right now we don’t know if she’s lying, not that both of us are right. Do I buy that some latrines aren’t well lit? Sure. Do I buy that some women were raped? Yep. Do I buy that at times there was fear going to the latrine? Yes. Do I buy that women denied themselves water so they wouldn’t have to pee at night and died of dehydration? I’m extremely skeptical.

    You’re right. We don’t know if she’s lying, but I think I’ve demonstrated that all of her statements could very well prove true given existing information you’ve pointed out yourself. Remember, you came out of the gate essentially calling her a liar (“Try digging on this story a little further; you’ll soon see that Karpinski’s full of it.”).

    I respect that you’re skeptical, but I think your comment was way too dismissive before you really dug into it. Just because Karpinski runs in left-wing circles now does not mean she’s lying, and I’m sorry that you assumed this so quickly.

    But it’s not walking into a cave, it’s walking past barracks of mostly-law abiding male soldiers. So any noise–such as firing the weapons they’re issued–would be heard right away.

    I didn’t say it’s like walking into a cave, but the longer somebody has to walk to the bathroom, the more likely of a target they could become. That was my point.

    As far as weapons going off, well, there’s nothing to suggest that these women had the ability to do that. True, some may have had sidearms, but they’re getting up in the middle of the night to take a leak in friendly environs. Would you carry your weapon with you? Again, I don’t think this is something either you or I can assume, so let’s not go down this road.

    I grant you don’t have much chance to go on military field operations, Justin, but bring a pedometer the next time you go to a Ren Faire. You’d be amazed how far apart those portapotties are.

    Oh trust me…I know. And the distance between where I am and the “Ye Olde Turkey Drumstickes” stand is always three times farther than anything I could imagine, heh.

  11. veronica Says:

    Hi
    Vet groups have held back on commenting till they are able to get confirmation on these accusations from women soldiers who where there. Until that information is found it would be nice if people would not spread this rumor like the gospel truth. It makes women soldiers look helpless.

  12. veronica Says:

    By the way they would have had side arms at but they might have not had bullets. In Kuwait probably no bullets. In Baghdad absolutely

  13. DosPeros Says:

    Does anyone think that Karpinski might have a bit of an ax to grind with the military. She took the brunt of the fall for Abu Ghraib (even though the left try to pin it on the zeigeist of the Bush Ad.) — and she is speaking in front of the “Commission of Inquiry for Crimes against Humanity Committed by the Bush Administration.” Yes, that sounds like a highly neutral fact finder.

    What better way to get back at the military/Pentagon and vindicate her own torture-stained career than blowing the whistle on mass-rape and corresponding mass suicides. None of this makes any sence — 1) yes, Veronica, good question, where the hell were their guns to shoot the rapist 2) did all the women die of dehydration together — they are soldiers — did the unsanitariness of pissing in the cot really outweigh the fear of death! For Godsake, the Army has Folgers cans or something similar I’m sure.

    I’m sure that a lot of bad things happen in Iraq, but this is a bit over-the-top without some hard evidence provided by someone other than Karpinski. I didn’t like Karpinski when she was on the hotseat for Abu Ghraib — those pictures look more like what happens when the denmother neglects the faternity, rather than a concerted and professional effort to extract information by torture. Anyway, with just this evidence, I don’t believe it.

  14. Justin Gardner Says:

    I respect your opinion Veronica, but nobody is spreading it like gospel truth around here. Those are Brainster’s words, not mine. As you can see in the comments, I acknowledge that this could be BS, but right now the facts seem to be lining up.

    Also, I don’t think this makes female soldiers seem helpless. The fact of the matter is that the majority of men are simply physically stronger than women. That’s why the majority of rapes are perpetrated against women. There’s nothing that’s going to change that fact. But none of that makes women “helpless.” But what can make them helpless is an inappropriate or inadequate response from the military apparatus to the reporting of sexual assaults. Because if you have nobody to turn to and prosecute the people who did this to you, you definitely are helpless at that point, unless you take matters into your own hands.

    I mean, to think that these women are getting assaulted, trying to report it, getting no answer and then living in fear because they probably know who did it…well, that’s just heartbreaking. And mind you, this is all while they’re serving their country fighting for freedom!

    In any event, all of the reasons I’ve stated above are more than enough for me to want to talk about it and try to challenge myself and others to get more information on the subject.

    Thanks for your comments.

  15. DosPeros Says:

    Is the “military apparatus” the same as the commanding officer and a JAG officer — or is there an actual apparatus involved?

  16. Justin Gardner Says:

    What I do think is that this has the potential to point out a problem in our military apparatus regarding appropriate response to sexual assaults

    Once again DP, you’re characterizing something in a very specific light so it’ll seem ridiculous. She’s not talking about mass rape or mass suicide. She’s talking about several cases that may have been avoided.

    Sure, Karpinski has an ax to grind. But both you and I know that doesn’t automatically make the information she’s presenting false.

    And by the way…

    I’ll reiterate: when I was at Victory, some knowledge of hte danger existed. My big question remains: if there was a danger, why were they telling women to protect themselves? Why not go after the guys doing it? (which is what happened.) As far as I know, not one single man was ever punished for the rapes I heard about on VM. No one was ever apprehended. So what’s going on here?

    That’s from a female soldier who was there. Read it for yourself.

    Also, more from the same soldier

    When I was at Camp Echo, they had these big fancy latrine/ shower combinations. But they didn’t have a lot for women. There were two, and they were fairly far away, too. In Echo, too, there was the fact that a woman two or three trailers away from me was woken one night by the intruder who had broken in, fondling her. The reaction of a senior NCO?

    “If that bitch had locked her door, I wouldn’t have to stand here.”

    “No, someone else’s NCO would have had to. He also had no proof she hadn’t locked her door. Rather than look at the task of protecting all women, he looked at merely one woman, and blamed her. That’s what happens when you look at it from the wrong end of the telescope. You don’t even protect one woman, and you leave all other women vulnerable, plus you free the would-be rapists to wander in the dark, searching for a victim. If all you can see is that small picture, that one woman, of course you’ll never solve the problem of rape.

    Blaming one victim personalizes rape, too, in that it makes it all about that one woman’s faults. I’m seeing criticism directed at Janis Karpinsky that one sees only directed at women in general or liberal men. Strangely, there’s no one stepping up to the plate, saying, “Well,she’s an asshole, but she has a good point.” Nope, it’s the opposite. This doesn’t work with men. Kobe Bryant lying about extra marital ‘sex’? Nope, that doesn’t discredit him at all, that documented lie. but Karpinsky is fair game for a lot of people. It’s funny in a not funny way that the two people held responsible for Abu Ghraib are two women: Janis Karpinsky, and Lynndie England. Both of them were judged as soldiers, but here’s the kick: they also got judged as women, and they failed. There was no official verdict, no openness, no transparency, but they got hit with an extra judgement the men didn’t have to face. By the way, who are those men? Can anyone name the men in Abu Ghraib without googling? I bet you can’t. They got judged and whisked away. It was England’s trial that was in the headlines. Not theirs. And Karpinsky remains the only general given a name and a face in the news.

    Here’s the thing: when you look at some of this crap all by itself, it seems fine. But you can’t do that, because it doesn’t happen in a vacuum. When you look at this big picture, there’s a lot wrong with it, but I remember that soldier, getting blamed for something she didn’t do, and all the woman who were left without protection because it was only that one woman who got blamed.

    Still feel the same way folks? Brainster? Karl? DP? Does this lend any validity to these charges Karpinsky is making or it simply liberal slant?

  17. Brainster Says:

    Hard to tell, Justin. She talks about the fear of rape, but there’s no discussion of not drinking any water late in the afternoon, or anybody dying from dehydration while she was there.

    The second post is rather confusing; is the first part of it a comment that she’s refuting? She’s clearly a feminist and a liberal (the ode to Jimmy Carter’s a pretty good giveaway).

  18. Justin Gardner Says:

    Confusing? She talks about the fear of rape in the first part and in the second one she talks about a) latrines being far away, b) a woman being sexual assualted and c) that woman being blamed for it. I’m not sure what you’re referring to when you say it’s confusing.

    In fact, these all seem consistent with Karpinsky’s claims. Maybe they’re not saying the exact same words, but they’re talking about the same types of things.

    And to another point, what bugs is that it seems your immediate skepticism of this information has to do with your partisan leanings. You even talk about it in this latest comment when you point out certain keywords like feminist, Jimmy Carter, etc and automatically your “unreliable” sensors go off. True, it all could be BS, but wouldn’t you rather give this story a little bit more leeway given that mutliple people are saying that female soldiers DID have something to fear from their male counterparts?

    One last thing…you need to reread that WND article you linked to because I think you got the info wrong. Karpinsky is talking about the Brig. Gen being in Kuwait and not realizing what’s going in Iraq. And furthermore, the WND article talks about the exact same things the one on Alternet did. So now you have a liberal source and a conservative source basically backing up Karpinsky’s claims. What are your thoughts on this?

  19. DosPeros Says:

    “Nope, it’s the opposite. This doesn’t work with men. Kobe Bryant lying about extra marital ’sex’? Nope, that doesn’t discredit him at all, that documented lie. but Karpinsky is fair game for a lot of people.”

    I always thought that Kobe Bryant hadn’t lied about extra marital sex — but in fact, he just denied the extra-marital rape part.

    Your right Justin. We should all assume that rape has occurred and there is a systemic attempt by the military to cover it up. There should be a full-scale Congressional inquiry into the dehydration deaths of frightened U.S. girl soldiers at the hands of an uncaring, patriarchial military aparatus. After all we have some good evidence:

    1. The long history of men raping women.
    2. Karpinski’s testimony
    3. The blog of Ginmar

    I did a cursor search of the IntelDump to see if Phil Carter has commented on this. I didn’t see anything – but if anyone knows different – I’d like to know.

  20. Jim Says:

    Couple of cultural comments on:

    1) Normally in a situation where rape becomes a threat to the women in th unit, guys in the unit start escorting them around, rptecting them, and it can even get to the level of gang violence if the suspected rapist is in another unit, and that can even be if it’s just the next platoon. That makes me wonder what was wrong in these women’s units that they didn’t get even that kind of protection.

    2) As for the NCO’s commnetsabout not locking her door, remember that this is in a cultural framework a person is considered responsible for everything that happens to them or in their area. If your weapon is stolen, you are atfault for failing to keep it secure. (That doesn’t absolve the thief; it’s just that you have a separate guilt of your own in the matter.)

    3) Because the basic presumption when it comes to rape or sexual harassment is different when it comes to a soldier of whatever sex – you are supposed to be armed and dangerous, aren’t you? If you can’t even defend yourself, up to and including killing the twat- droppings trying to harm you, how can we count on you to defend the nation? This was a big part of the disgust and disbelief that attended the dismissal of CSM McKinney when several (white – that was the rest of the disgust and disbelief) female sergeants major accused him of sexual harassment – what a bunch of defenseless pussies they must have been; after all, those are non-commissioned officers in the United States Army, not a bunch of rape-bait civilians.

  21. Meredith Says:

    Hey Jim,

    Just wondering about you.

    “what was wrong in these women’s units that they didn’t get even that kind of protection.”

    “you have a separate guilt of your own in the matter”

    “If you can’t even defend yourself, up to and including killing the TWAT – droppings trying to harm you, how can we count on you to defend the nation?”

    “what a bunch of defenseless PUSSIES they must have been”

    “not a bunch of rape-bait civilians”

    This is probably the most offensive post I have ever read on this site. You sound like a real nice guy.

  22. Justin Gardner Says:

    Jim, you’re really blaming the victims? You’re actually going there? Jeezus…

  23. Vacuum Pump Says:

    Matt from Orlando asking if you have an rss subscription feed for your blog?

Leave a Reply


NOTE TO COMMENTERS:


You must ALWAYS fill in the two word CAPTCHA below to submit a comment. And if this is your first time commenting on Donklephant, it will be held in a moderation queue for approval. Please don't resubmit the same comment a couple times. We'll get around to moderating it soon enough.


Also, sometimes even if you've commented before, it may still get placed in a moderation queue and/or sent to the spam folder. If it's just in moderation queue, it'll be published, but it may be deleted if it lands in the spam folder. My apologies if this happens but there are some keywords that push it into the spam folder.


One last note, we will not tolerate comments that disparage people based on age, sex, handicap, race, color, sexual orientation, national origin or ancestry. We reserve the right to delete these comments and ban the people who make them from ever commenting here again.


Thanks for understanding and have a pleasurable commenting experience.


Related Posts: