ACLU: Gen. Sanchez possibly perjured himself at 2004 Senate inquiry

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Wednesday, April 6, 2005

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) claims that a recently obtained 18-month-old memo shows that a top U.S. commander of armed forces in Iraq was untruthful when he testified before the United States Congress last year on Iraqi prison abuse. The September 14, 2003 memo was among government documents concerning the U.S. invasion of Iraq. The ACLU gained access to the documents after successfully suing the government under the U.S. Freedom of Information Act.

The 2003 memo seemingly contradicts sworn testimony by Sanchez given during the Senate Hearing on Iraq Prison Abuse. Intentionally being untruthful at a Congressional hearing is considered the crime of perjury.

On May 19th, 2004, during those hearings, Jack Reed, a Democratic U.S. senator from Rhode Island, asked Sanchez about claims of abuse of Iraqi prisoners under U.S. care. "General Sanchez, today's USA Today, sir, reported that you ordered or approved the use of sleep deprivation, intimidation by guard dogs, excessive noise and inducing fear as an interrogation method for a prisoner in Abu Ghraib prison," Reed asked Sanchez. "Is that correct?"

"Sir, that may be correct that it's in a news article, but I never approved any of those measures to be used within CJTF-7 at any time in the last year." He then reiterated, "I have never approved the use of any of those methods within CJTF-7 (Coalition Joint Task Force-7) in the 12.5 months that I've been in Iraq," Gen. Sanchez's answered at the hearing.

But Sanchez's 2004 answer is at odds with the 2003 memo bearing his signature, which specifically addressed sleep deprivation ("sleep management"), intimidation by guard dogs ("presence of military working dog"), excessive noise ("yelling, loud music, and light control"), and inducing fear ("fear up harsh"). The following are excerpts from the memo:

Z. (S/NF) Sleep Management: Detainee provided minimum 4 hours of sleep per 24 hour period, not to exceed 72 continuous hours.

Y. (S/NF) Presence of Military Working Dog: Exploits Arab fear of dogs while maintaining security during interrogations. Dogs will be muzzled and under control of MWD handler at all times to prevent contact with detainee.

AA. (S/NF) Yelling, Loud Music, and Light Control: Used to create fear, disorient detainee and prolong capture shock. Volume controlled to prevent injury.

E. (S/NF) Fear Up Harsh: Significantly increasing the fear level in a detainee.

The label "S/NF" stands for Secret/Not Releasable to Foreign Nationals. Information is properly exempted from The Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) if it contains National Security Information.

The only section in the memo that Gen. Sanchez labeled "U" for Unclassified was:

(U) The purpose of all interviews and interrogations is to get the most information from a detainee with the least intrusive method, always applied in a humane and lawful manner with sufficient oversight by trained investigators or interrogators. Operating instructions must be developed based on command policies to insure uniform, careful, and safe application of interrogations of detainees.

The ACLU said it sent a letter to Attorney General Alberto Gonzales requesting an "Investigation of Possible Perjury by General Ricardo A. Sanchez" and renewing their prior request "for an Outside Special Counsel to Investigate and Prosecute Violations or Conspiracies to Violate Criminal Laws Against Torture or Abuse of Detainees."

Sources

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