Tuesday, January 31, 2006

More Made Up Stories?

Brainster is reporting on a story told by COL Karpinski (formerly BG Karpinski). If that name sounds familiar it is because she was the officer in charge of the Army Reserve MP unit that was responsible for the Abu Ghraib scandal. Anyway, the demoted officer is now claiming that an Army Master Sergeant died of dehydration in September 2003, because she was too afraid to drink water in the evening, for fear of being attacked and raped on the way to the latrines. To make this even more scandalous, the Army supposedly changed her cause of death from "dehydration" to unstated in order to cover up this incident.

Karpinski testified that a surgeon for the coalition's joint task force said in a briefing that "women in fear of getting up in the hours of darkness to go out to the port-a-lets or the latrines were not drinking liquids after 3 or 4 in the afternoon, and in 120 degree heat or warmer, because there was no air-conditioning at most of the facilities, they were dying from dehydration in their sleep."

"And rather than make everybody aware of that - because that's shocking, and as a leader if that's not shocking to you then you're not much of a leader - what they told the surgeon to do is don't brief those details anymore. And don't say specifically that they're women. You can provide that in a written report but don't brief it in the open anymore."

For example, Maj. Gen. Walter Wojdakowski, Sanchez's top deputy in Iraq, saw "dehydration" listed as the cause of death on the death certificate of a female master sergeant in September 2003. Under orders from Sanchez, he directed that the cause of death no longer be listed, Karpinski stated. The official explanation for this was to protect the women's privacy rights.

Now first of all this story seems rather unlikely. After all, would a senior NCO sit and die of dehydration for fear of going outside, or peeing in a bottle? Remember, these aren't drunken sorority girls at a frat house, these are professional soldiers who in Iraq are required to wear body armor and carry an M-16 everywhere they go. But even if we put this aside, who is this woman who died? Brainster points out that there are websites like icasualties which track coalition casualties in Iraq, and none list a female senior NCO dying in that time period. Master Sergeant is not the most common rank in the army, in fact there is no record of any female Master Sergeants dying for the entire Iraq war!

I thought that maybe they missed this soldier. Since the DoD releases casualty notices on defenselink.mil , I figured I would double check there. Same thing, no female senior NCOs died for ANY REASON in August, September or October 2003. Did the pentagon just make this woman disappear somehow? More likely Karpinski has adopted the new "fake but accurate" standard for stories. If anyone can find this mystery woman, by all means, let me know.

UPDATE: CNN keeps another list here. Same thing, this woman does not exist.