Last weekend, Donnamaria Carpino, the woman who has accused Maj. Gen. David R.E. Hale of sexual misconduct, made a direct request to FBI Director Louis Freeh for protection and to have the Justice Department place a wire-tap on her home phone. She also requested an investigation of a series of threatening phone calls she believes originated from within the Pentagon.
A fire set in her yard at dawn yesterday has literally brought home the possibility her life could be in danger.
Who is Donnamaria Carpino? And what has she done to warrant such threats?
She connects the harassment with her decision to blow the whistle on Hale and for her criticism of senior ranking generals who have come to Hale’s aid using questionable tactics.
Carpino created a controversy last month with allegations the U.S. Army allowed Hale, the former deputy chief of the U.S. Army’s Office of the Inspection General, to retire in the middle of an investigation of charges involving coerced sex, the compromise of classified materials, and the religious persecution of an enlisted Muslim-American family stationed in Turkey. Recent Army Times and Washington Times stories indicate Army Chief of Staff Gen. Dennis Reimer may have “bent” or violated Army regulations to allow Hale to retire less than eight days after putting in his retirement papers. Secretary of Defense William Cohen has ordered his chief legal counsel, Judith Miller, to investigate the circumstances surrounding the retirement of Hale.
Attempts to contact Hale for his comments were unsuccessful. Hale’s military attorney, Lt. Col. William Killgallin, is in Turkey and a sergeant in his office said, “we sure don’t know where he is.” Aspokesman for the office of public affairs for the secretary of the Army said, “He is a retired citizen, we aren’t tracking him.”
In last Friday’s Washington Times front page story, Carpino was “described to the press as a ‘stalker’” by Maj. Gen. John G. Meyer, the chief of Army public affairs. Prior to the Washington Times story, Carpino states, “I had five or six hang-up calls, and three calls which said ‘you are probably a spy’ or declared me to be a ‘Mata Hari.’” In the latest telephone attack, the caller stated “since you cannot be embarrassed into being silent, they will probably have to do it the old-fashioned way.”
This call prompted Carpino to directly ask for the intervention of the director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Louis Freeh.
Fearing the previous threatening phone calls were being made from within the Pentagon, she made two calls to the FBI’s field office in Washington and last March made a personal visit to the office. Carpino says she was interrogated by two “grossly overweight” women who she mistakenly thought were FBI agents. The women declined to give Carpino their names.
According to Carpino, her purse was taken from her and searched in another room out of her sight. After running an identity check on her in the National Crime Information Center, she was escorted by an armed guard to a locked 5-foot by 7-foot interrogation room which contained a two-way mirror, a window of security glass, a TV camera and a microphone. She was interviewed through the security glass by the two agents who were in an adjoining room. The press officer of the Washington field office said the two women were accidentally misidentified to Carpino as being “agents.” An FBI agent had told her to wait at the front desk and two agents would come to interview her.
After the interview the two investigative analysts suggested she contact the Department of Defense. When Carpino asked for the agents’ names, they refused, stating “because when we are out on the street, we are not protected.”
The FBI’s Washington field office media spokesperson said Carpino’s description of FBI interview process for citizens attempting to make a complaint was “accurate,” and added investigative analysts are not armed, which explains the security glass and locked room.
The next day Carpino requested U.S. attorney for the eastern district of Virginia, John Fillipini, to authorize a FBI wiretap of her home phone. According to Carpino, Fillipini stated “he would help her and would talk to his boss.” In a subsequent conservation Fillipini stated, again according to Carpino, “the Department of Defense would have to handle this,” referring to the threatening phone calls.
Fillipini failed to respond to several voice messages requesting his comments.
Following Fillipini’s instructions, Carpino contacted Patty Langford of the Department of Defense IG’s Office of Program Integrity. Langford told Carpino, Defense wouldn’t do a wire-tap because it “would take too long.” Langford declined to return phone calls requesting a comment on Carpino’s statement.
Carpino, whose home phone is unlisted, has little doubt that the calls are being made by Pentagon insiders or friends of Hale or Gen. Reimer, the Army chief of staff.
Carpino claims Reimer violated Army regulations to allow “his friend” Hale to retire during the investigation. She also alleges Army Chief of Public Affairs Maj. Gen. John G. Meyer, was orchestrating a behind-the-scenes smear campaign to label her as the stalker” of Hale and transform Hale into the victim.
Gen. Meyer, a former military policeman, is described by Pentagon media insiders as being a “novice” who “brings no special training or credentials” to the job of chief of Army public affairs. Carpino believes the Washington Times story Friday concerning General Meyer’s actions and revelations linking Hale to the Israeli “black program” may have prompted the latest threatening phone call. “If the Army wants me to wear the ‘Scarlet Letter’ that’s OK with me, but it doesn’t change the truth.”
Ironically, the Secretary of Defense William Cohen, publicly proclaimed on April Fool’s Day 1997, “propaganda has no place in Department of Defense public affairs programs.” Secretary Cohen may be required to order an investigation of the actions of Major General Meyer, the Army’s top public affairs officer.
Another Pentagon reporter who has knowledge of Meyer’s “counterattack” against Carpino is Time Magazine’s Mark Thompson. When Thompson’s story about “what has happened to me runs in this week’s edition of Time, I expect the phone to ring off the hook with more anonymous calls from inside the Pentagon.” Carpino asks, “And if the Director of the Federal Bureau Investigation won’t help me, who will?”
“Perhaps the fire department,” says Carpino.
Meanwhile, a second fire at approximately 9 am, bought Sgt. James Gannon of the Occoquan, Virginia, police department to her home. Gannon states it wasn’t “really a fire” and was more “like smoldering mulch which looked like it was self-started, perhaps by a cigarette.” Gannon used a garden hose to put the fire out which had been reported by an unknown person walking a dog. The Washington field office of the FBI reports it had been raining all night in the area and the rain stopped around dawn, making it somewhat remote that the fire started by a cigarette. Carpino wasn’t home at the time and Sgt. Gannon left his business card.
Later in the morning, in a phone conversation with Sgt Gannon, Carpino claims Gannon said, “This is ludicrous,” referring to Carpino’s claim to be at the center of major controversy and in need of protection.
“If your story had been in the Washington Post, Time Magazine and the Washington Times we would have heard of you.” “What do you think they are going to do,” said Gannon, “shoot you with a ray-gun?”
Sgt. Gannon must have thought better of the “ray-gun” comment, because he showed up at Carpino’s front door a few minutes later to investigate the fires. The local fire marshall was called to determine if the fires had been set using an accelerant.