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Ex-Iraq Commander to Signal: No Harsh Interrogation Methods Approved
By Leon Worden
Signal Multimedia Editor
Sunday, April 4, 2005
*MEDIAMANDATORY CREDIT: The Signal newspaper of Santa Clarita, Calif.
day after the American Civil Liberties Union accused him of lying to Congress about the interrogation tactics he approved for Abu Ghraib and other U.S.-run prisons, the former U.S. commander in Iraq told The Signal he stands by his sworn testimony.
"There is nothing that I would change in my congressional testimony," Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez wrote in an e-mail message from his home station in Germany, where he remains in command of the Army's V Corps.
On Tuesday, under pressure from the ACLU, the Pentagon declassified a Sept. 14, 2003, memo in which Sanchez outlined his "interrogation and counter-resistance policy" for use throughout Iraq.
The policy stated it was "modeled on the one implemented for interrogations conducted at Guantanamo Bay, but modified for applicability to a theater of war in which the Geneva Conventions apply."
Approved techniques fell into two categories. Some, intended to intimidate or evoke fear including sleep deprivation and "fear up harsh: significantly increasing the fear level in a detainee" were authorized for blanket use, subject to "general safeguards."
Harsher methods, such as the use of military dogs, stress positions, strong light and sound, isolation and good cop-bad cop which, the memo cautioned, might run afoul with the Geneva Conventions required Sanchez's approval on a case-by-case basis.
"Use of (the harsher methods) on enemy prisoners of war must be approved by me personally prior to use," the memo states. Requests for approval were to be made in writing.
A second memo from Sanchez a month later, dated Oct. 12, 2003, outlined interrogation techniques for use on civilian "security detainees" and did not include the harsher methods.
At the center of the ACLU's allegation is Sanchez's testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee.
At the May 19, 2004, hearing, Sen. Jack Reed, D-R.I., asked Sanchez if he ever "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."
Sanchez told the Senate panel that he "never approved any of those measures to be used within (Coalition Joint Task Force-7) at any time in the last year. ... I have never approved the use of any of those methods within CJTF-7 in the 12.5 months that Išve been in Iraq."
CJTF-7 was the moniker for the Iraqi theater of operations at the time.
In a written statement Friday, ACLU Executive Director Anthony D. Romero said Sanchez's Senate testimony was "utterly inconsistent" with the memos, and he called for an investigation by a special White House counsel.
Queried about the ACLU's allegations, Sanchez told The Signal on Saturday, "I remain totally behind the Senate Armed Services Committee testimony." He said he never approved nor did he receive any individual requests to use the harsher methods.
"As the congressional record shows, the memorandums were well established as fact," Sanchez said by e-mail. "The questions I was responding to were related to my approval of any specific requests from interrogators for the use of the interrogation techniques as required by the policy. None were ever received or approved by me."
"I have no intentions of engaging in a public debate with the ACLU or anyone else," Sanchez said.
Although more clarifying, Sanchez's latest comments are consistent with a statement he made to The Signal last summer.
In July, Brig. Gen. Janis Karpinski, the former U.S. prison commander in Iraq, told The Signal she had seen Sanchez's signature of approval on "at least two" requests from the military intelligence commander at Abu Ghraib for the use of dogs, isolation and sleep deprivation.
Sanchez responded to Karpinski's claim by saying he remained "totally behind" his congressional testimony.
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