Army Reserve Brigadier General Janis Karpinski has been reduced in rank to a colonel after an army investigation found her guilty of dereliction of duty and shoplifting, the army said.
Gen. Karpinski is the highest-ranking officer to be punished in the wake of the prisoner abuse scandal at the Iraqi prison.
“Today, the president approved a recommendation to vacate the promotion of Brigadier General Karpinski from her rank of brigadier general,” said the army in a statement.
“This decision reduces her to the rank of colonel in the US Army Reserve.”
She had headed the military police unit that ran the facility when inmates were maltreated.
Gen. Karpinski was also arrested for shoplifting at a US air force base in the US but failed to report it to her superiors or on official forms that asked if she had ever been arrested, according to an official familiar with the investigation.
She commanded the prison during the period in late 2003 and early 2004 when military guards were photographed abusing and humiliating Iraqi prisoners.
She has maintained she knew nothing of the abuse and said she has been made a “convenient scapegoat” by her superiors.
The army said a probe by its inspector general substantiated allegations against her of dereliction of duty, however she was absolved of any specific actions that directly contributed to the abuse.
“Though Brigadier General Karpinski’s performance of duty was found to be seriously lacking, the investigation determined that no action or lack of action on her part contributed specifically to the abuse of detainees at Abu Ghraib,” the army said.
The army inspector general cleared Lieutenant General Ricardo Sanchez, the US commander in Iraq at the time, of responsibility for the scandal.
Three of his top aides were also cleared over the scandal.
Seven low-level soldiers have been convicted and two more are awaiting trial.
The army also said disciplinary action has been taken against five officers besides Gen. Karpinski, but they have not yet been identified.
Before being demoted, Karpinski was given a career-ending memorandum of reprimand and removed from her command by the army’s vice chief of staff, General Dick Cody.