MADRID -- The former US commander of the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq said in an interview appearing yesterday that the outgoing US defense secretary, Donald H. Rumsfeld, authorized the mistreatment of detainees there.
Former US Army Brigadier General Janis Karpinski was quoted as saying in Spain's El País newspaper that she had seen a letter apparently signed by Rumsfeld that allowed civilian contractors to use techniques such as sleep deprivation during interrogation. Karpinski, who ran the prison until early 2004, said she saw a memorandum signed by Rumsfeld detailing the use of harsh interrogation methods.
"The handwritten signature was above his printed name and in the same handwriting in the margin was written: 'Make sure this is accomplished,' " El País yesterday quoted her as saying. "The methods consisted of making prisoners stand for long periods, sleep deprivation . . . playing music at full volume . . . Rumsfeld authorized these specific techniques."
The Geneva Convention says prisoners of war should suffer "no physical or mental torture, nor any other form of coercion" to secure information.
"Prisoners of war who refuse to answer may not be threatened, insulted, or exposed to any unpleasant or disadvantageous treatment of any kind," the document states.
A spokesman for the Pentagon declined to comment on Karpinski's accusations, while US Army officials in Iraq could not immediately be reached for comment.
Karpinski was withdrawn from Iraq in early 2004, shortly after photographs showing US troops abusing detainees at the prison were published around the world. She was subsequently removed from active duty.