Saturday, April 23, 2005

Goodbye, Blue Sky

Via insomnia, we see that in May 2004, Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez gave this testimony to the Senate at their hearing on Iraq prisoner abuse:

REED: 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. Is that correct?

SANCHEZ: 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.
Oooh, nice job with the careful nitpicky language there, Sanchez! Oddly enough, however, he wasn't nitpicky enough, since his testimony is in direct contradiction to his words eight months previously when, in September 2003, he wrote a memo authorizing interrogation techniques such as:
Presence of Military Working Dog: Exploits Arab fear of dogs ...
Sleep Management: Detainee provided minimum of 4 hours sleep per 24 hour period, not to exceed 72 continuous hours.
Yelling, Loud Music, and Light Control: Used to create fear...
But no worries! Perjury and torture are nothing to be concerned about in an Army officer, and Sanchez is now ollie ollie oxen free:
The U.S. Army has cleared four of its top officers of allegations of wrongdoing at the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq.

Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez became the senior commander in Iraq two months after the fall of Baghdad in 2003. Earlier investigations had faulted him for a lapse in leadership that may have contributed to the prisoner abuse.

But the Army's Inspector General office concluded the allegations were unsubstantiated. It came to the same conclusion for two generals and a colonel under Sanchez's command, defence officials said.
I can only imagine the depth of the relief Iraq's citizens must feel upon hearing that poor, innocent, wrongly accused Lt. Gen. Sanchez has been cleared of responsibility for the events that he approved! After all, they do have some familiarity with innocent people wrongly accused and punished; Iraqi blogger Riverbend described one such situation last May, at the same time poor Lt. Gen. Sanchez was pleading his innocence before the Senate:
In Abu Ghraib, they were seperated and M. suspected that her mother was taken to another prison outside of Baghdad. A couple of terrible months later- after witnessing several beatings and the rape of a male prisoner by one of the jailors- in mid-January, M. was suddenly set free and taken to her uncle's home where she found her youngest brother waiting for her. Her uncle, through some lawyers and contacts, had managed to extract M. and her 15-year-old brother from two different prisons. M. also learned that her mother was still in Abu Ghraib but they weren't sure about her three brothers.

M. and her uncle later learned that a certain neighbor had made the false accusation against her family. The neighbor's 20-year-old son was still bitter over a fight he had several years ago with one of M.'s brothers. All he had to do was contact a certain translator who worked for the troops and give M.'s address. It was that easy.

....They have been trying to get her brothers and mother out ever since. I was enraged- why don't they contact the press? Why don't they contact the Red Cross?! What were they waiting for?! She shook her head sadly and said that they *had* contacted the Red Cross but they were just one case in thousands upon thousands- it would take forever to get to them. As for the press- was I crazy? How could she contact the press and risk the wrath of the American authorities while her mother and brothers were still imprisoned?! There were prisoners who had already gotten up to 15 years of prison for 'acting against the coallition'... she couldn't risk that. They would just have to be patient and do a lot of praying.

By the end of her tale, M. was crying silently and my mother and Umm Hassen were hastily wiping away tears. All I could do was repeat, "I'm so sorry... I'm really sorry..." and a lot of other useless words. She shook her head and waved away my words of sympathy, "It's ok- really- I'm one of the lucky ones... all they did was beat me."