Saturday, May 22, 2004

Coming apart at the seams

They just couldn't keep this one sewed up.

The commander of the military police company assigned to the Abu Ghraib prison near Baghdad has said he will testify that the top U.S. general in Iraq was present during some interrogations at the prison and witnessed some of the abuse, according to a published report.

The Washington Post, in a story first released on its Web site Saturday night, said a military lawyer stated at an open hearing April 2 that Capt. Donald J. Reese told him that Lt. Gen. Ricardo S. Sanchez and other senior military officers were aware of the abuse at the prison.

...The Post said a transcript of the April hearing at Camp Victory in Baghdad shows Capt. John McCabe, the military prosecutor, asking Shuck, "Are you saying that Captain Reese is going to testify that General Sanchez was there and saw this going on?"

"That's what he told me," Shuck replied, according the transcript cited by the Post. "I am an officer of the court, sir, and I would not lie. I have got two children at home, I'm not going to risk my career."

Brig. Gen. Mark Kimmitt, the senior military spokesman in Iraq, told the Post that Sanchez was unavailable for comment Saturday night but would respond later.

...Shuck also said at the April hearing, according to the Post, that Capt. Carolyn A. Wood, supervisor of the military intelligence operation at Abu Ghraib, was "involved in intensive interrogations of detainees, condoned some of the activities and stressed that that was standard procedure, what the accused was doing."
  USA Today article

That fuck Sanchez, who was in charge of Abu Ghraib, and who gave the order to have military intelligence take command of "security of detainees", sat there in front of the Senate committee and testified under oath that he was shocked by those photos and that nothing was going on outside of those few bad apples all on their own, and that as soon as he knew about any abuses, he took immediate steps to halt it and fix things. The man should be court-martialed and jailed. Perhaps at Abu Ghraib.

Gentleman, I'll ask you to rise.

In accordance to the rules of this committee, will you raise your right hand?

I solemnly swear the testimony that I'm about to give the Senate committee of the United States the whole truth and nothing but the truth, so help me God.



...SANCHEZ [Opening statement]: Mr. Chairman, members of the committee, thank you for the opportunity to appear before the committee and talk to you about events in Iraq, and specifically the events at Abu Ghraib.

Before I talk about these events, I'm proud to report that over 150,000 coalition military personnel are doing great work in Iraq under very, very difficult circumstances. They are fighting an insurgency, rebuilding and protecting infrastructure, and setting the conditions for the inevitable turnover to an interim government on the 30th of June.

Those soldiers, sailors, airman and Marines of America and the people who support them are stunned, disappointed and embarrassed by the events that transpired at Abu Ghraib prison. However, like me, these great servicemembers also understand that we must continue with our mission.

Regarding the events at Abu Ghraib, we must fully investigate and fix responsibility, as well as accountability. I am fully committed to thorough and impartial investigations that examine the role, commissions and omissions of the entire chain of command, and that includes me.

As the senior commander in Iraq, I accept responsibility for what happened at Abu Ghraib, and I accept as a solemn obligation the responsibility to ensure that it does not happen again.

We have already initiated courts-martial in seven cases, and there may very well be more prosecutions. The Army Criminal Investigative Division investigation is not final, and the investigation of military intelligence procedures by Major General Fay is also ongoing.

We may find that the evidence produced in these investigations not only leads to more courts-martial, but causes us to revisit actions previously taken to determine whether to initiate judicial or nonjudicial action in cases which may have been handled to date by adverse administrative action.

In this regard, I must be very circumspect in what I say. We must let our military justice process work. It is a process in which the American people can and should have confidence, and one in which I take great pride.

I cannot say anything that might compromise the fairness or integrity of the process or in any way suggest a result in a particular case. I have taken an oath to support and defend the Constitution of the United States, and that includes ensuring that all persons receive a fair trial and, if found guilty, appropriate punishment.

This respect for the rule of law has been a guiding principle for my command. There is no doubt that the law of war, including the Geneva Conventions, apply to our operations in Iraq. This includes interrogations.

I have reinforced this point by way of orders and command policies. In September and October of 2003, and in May of 2004, I issued interrogation policies that reiterated the application of the Geneva Conventions and required that all interrogations be conducted in a lawful and humane manner, with command oversight.

In October 2003, I issued a memorandum for all coalition forces personnel that was entitled "Proper Treatment of Iraqi People During Combat Operations." I reissued this memorandum on the 16th of January after learning about the events that had taken place at Abu Ghraib.

On the 4th of March of 2004, I issued my policy memorandum number 18, entitled "Proper Conduct During Combat Operations." This document, which I also reissued in April, emphasized the need to treat all Iraqis with dignity and respect. This policy memorandum also contained a summary for distribution down to the individual soldier level that provided clear guidance and mandated training on the following points.

Follow the law of war and the rules of engagement.

Treat all persons with humanity, dignity and respect.

Use judgment and discretion in detaining civilians.

Respect private property.

And treat journalists with dignity and respect.

With regards to Abu Ghraib, as soon as I learned of the reported abuses, I ensured that a criminal investigation had been initiated and requested my superior appoint an investigating officer to conduct a separate administration investigation under Army Regulation 15-6 into this matter.

Within days of receiving the initial report, I directed suspension of key members of the chain of command of the unit responsible for detainee security at Abu Ghraib.

The criminal investigation, while still under way, resulted thus far in the decision to initiate court-martial proceedings against seven individuals. The administrative investigation that was conducted by Major General Taguba has caused me to change the way we conduct detention, internment and interrogation operations.

One significant change has been the addition to my staff of a general officer with responsibility for detention operations. As you know, Major General Geoffrey Miller was assigned this task and has taken numerous positive steps to eliminate the possibility that such abuse could occur in the future.

Well before I received the January 14th report and viewed the shocking photographs later on, I had directed steps be taken to improve the overall condition of detainees at Abu Ghraib.

Back in August 2003, I requested that subject matter experts conduct a comprehensive assessment of all detention operations in Iraq. This was the genesis for the report completed by Major General Ryder, the provost marshal general of the Army.

In September, a team headed by General Miller assessed our intelligence interrogation activities and human detention operations. We reviewed the recommendations with the expressed understanding, reinforced in conversations between General Miller and me, that they might have to be modified for use in Iraq where the Geneva Convention was fully applicable.

Plans for the new detainee camp at Abu Ghraib, which will now be called Camp Redemption, were begun in November of 2003 in order to relieve overcrowding of the facility. After a series of mortar attacks against the facility in September which killed and injured both Iraqi detainees and U.S. soldiers, I directed increased force protection measures be taken in order to protect coalition forces and detainees. The plans to upgrade the facilities for soldiers and detainees were also implemented.

And finally, the rate at which detainee case files were reviewed and recommended for release or continued internment was increased both in November of 2003 and again in February of 2004 in order to ensure that only those detainees who posed a threat to security were detained. Indeed, our February 2004 changes resulted in the review of over 100 cases per day.

The terrible events that occurred in the fall of 2003 have obviously highlighted additional problems that we have moved quickly to address.

SANCHEZ: While horrified at the abusive behavior that took place at Abu Ghraib, I believe that I've taken the proper steps to ensure that such behavior is not repeated.

I further believe that my actions have sent the correct message that such behavior is inconsistent with our values, our standards and our training.

I have faith in our military justice system to resolve the cases brought before it.

I would like to read the concluding paragraph of my memorandum to the command on proper conduct during combat operations. I believe it is an accurate summary of my standards and expectations.

"Respect for others, humane treatment of all persons, and adherence to the law of war and rules of engagement is a matter of discipline and values. It is what separates us from our enemies. I expect all leaders to reinforce this message."

In closing, the war in Iraq continues against a relentless enemy that is focused on preventing the Iraqi people from achieving their dream of freedom, prosperity and security. This awful episode at Abu Ghraib must not allow us to get distracted.

America's armed forces are performing magnificently, sacrificing every single day to defeat an enemy that is ruthless and elusive in his quest to terrorize Iraq and the world.

The honor and value systems of our armed forces are solid and the bedrock of what makes us the best in the world.

There has been no catastrophic failure, and America's armed forces will never compromise their honor.

America must not falter in this endeavor to defeat those who seek to destroy our democratic value systems.

In Iraq, the coalition military, including our 130,000 Americans, remain focused, and I guarantee you they will not fail.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

KENNEDY: When we had the secretary of defense here, General Abizaid, last week, he denied that there was any failure to take any of these reports seriously.

"The military, not the media, discovered these abuses," he said. And Specialist Joseph Darby reported the acts of abuse in Abu Ghraib prison in mid-January. And, according to Secretary Rumsfeld, by the next day investigations were authorized.

Yet now we learn, both from the front page of the New York Times today and the front page of the Wall Street Journal today, that the International Committee on the Red Cross observed the abuses in the prison during the two unannounced inspections in October 2003, and they complained in a strongly-worded written report of November 6.

This report was reviewed by senior military officials in Iraq, including two advisers to General Sanchez, according to this report.

So it appears that the military's first reaction was to restrict future Red Cross visits to the Abu Ghraib. That's the story in here: After the Red Cross had provided two critical reports, the reaction of the military dealing with the prison then was to restrict. They said, "You have to give us notice." And all of us understand what that means: If you're going to give notice prior to the inspections, it obviously compromises the inspections.

So according to those news reports, nothing was done in the prison for two months. And the military previously acknowledged that the worst abuses continued into December 2003.

So we have the secretary of defense saying one thing and we're learning from two newspapers another story. And that's why I think we are trying to find out what exactly, who was in charge, and who bears the responsibility, because these are completely conflicting stories within a period of just a few weeks here before this committee.

I don't know whether you have any reaction to those stories, whether you had a chance to see those this morning. I want to move on.

Quickly, I suppose it's fair to say who in Iraq or in CENTCOM is responsible for receiving and responding to the reports of violations of international law or conventions by U.S. military personnel.

SANCHEZ: I am responsible. If someone brings it to my attention, I am responsible. And I will not turn my back on any report that I receive.

KENNEDY: Well, you obviously didn't get these reports.

SANCHEZ: No, I didn't.

KENNEDY: Well, I'm asking who would have gotten these reports? Who would have received this report in the chain of command, General?

SANCHEZ: Senator, the November report was received by the brigade commander. And then the -- as I found out now, the CJTF staff assisted her in responding to that report.

KENNEDY: Well, do they get -- that brigade commander receive all of the reports or it's just -- who institutionally receives, within your organization, any of the -- like for the Red Cross violations that come on in? Who's in charge on that?

SANCHEZ: When the February '04 report came in, that's when I found out that the November working papers had been issued to the brigade commander. At that point, I immediately changed the procedure and required that those reports come to me as a senior commander in the country.


SANCHEZ: Yes, Senator.

What we did after I received the recommendations of General Miller is I then forwarded those to my staff and the commander of the detention center for execution -- correction, for modification in accordance with the Geneva Convention, since we knew that there was a difference in climates between the two different operations...part of our basic understanding in the July-August time frame was that we had a detainee situation that had not been faced by our Army in over 50 years.

That was the reason why I had requested the Ryder team to come in to assist us in establishing those operations, so that they would be efficient, effective and treating people with dignity and respect. ...

ALLARD: And the Ryder report, that was the first report in trying to deal with any hint of impropriety that was happening at the prison, is that correct?

SANCHEZ: Senator, there were investigations that had been conducted as a result of allegations of abuse that were out in the command, not at the detention centers at that point.

As we have stated before, there were allegations that at the point of contact, where the soldiers are fighting every single day, there were allegations from the ICRC that prisoners were being treated rough. And those were the allegations that were being investigated at that point in time.

As far as detention center abuses, at that point I did not have knowledge of that.

But I would like to make sure that the committee understands, we did have detention center problems. They were overcrowded. We didn't have the M.P.s in the right place. We were moving into facilities that had been destroyed or damaged by the war. We had an intelligence problem, in that the tactical units were not getting feedback from the detainees that moved into the detention centers.

And from Ambassador Bremer's point of view, he had a problem in that we weren't releasing detainees back into the population quickly enough, and he wanted us to come up with a system that would make that more efficient.

So let's be clear that we understood that there were problems in the detainee system linked to the intelligence system, linked to the political system that had to be addressed, and we were working on them.

But I would also like to remind you that these images are not the kind of thing that we thought was happening out there that anyone in the chain of command would have condoned or allowed to be practiced.

REED: Thank you.

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: 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.

SESSIONS: So, the system was set up to restrict these kind of activities. They could never be done even though, as Colonel Warren, the JAG officer said, could be acceptable under -- some of them at least can be acceptable under the Geneva Conventions. They had to make a written report and request the use before any of those could be used.

SANCHEZ: That is exactly right, sir.

SESSIONS: And were any of these ever approved by you?

SANCHEZ: Sir, the only approvals that I ever had at my desk was for continued segregation beyond 30 days. And there were 25 of those who were approved. I never saw any other method come to my level requesting approval.

SESSIONS: So the only request under this category of what some refer to as harsher treatment were the isolation requests, which are done in American prisons every day. And these isolation requests were, in fact, submitted to you in writing. And do you or your staff make an evaluation before you approved them?

SANCHEZ: Yes, sir, those came forward. My staff -- both the intel officer and my staff judge advocate evaluated those. And then my staff judge advocate brought them in to me, and I personally approved it.

SESSIONS: And I would like to note that in big print here, it says, "Safeguards: Approaches must always be humane and lawful. Detainees will never" -- in capital letters -- "be touched in a malicious or unwanted manner." Would that violate -- were the actions in this prison in violation of that directive? The allegations and the pictures we've seen, that would be in violation of that directive, would it not?

SANCHEZ: Sir, if those allegations are proved in the investigative process to be true, those would be violations.

SESSIONS: And it said Geneva Conventions must be complied with.

SANCHEZ: Absolutely, sir, that was always the standard.


Senator, I swore to tell you the truth and everything that I've told you in here is the truth.


SANCHEZ: ...and I never approved any interrogation methods other than continued segregation.


The decision by the Pentagon to send General Miller -- down the chain of command but to send General Miller by your testimony to Iraq and then your decision, General Sanchez, to put Colonel Pappas involved, am I correct, General Sanchez, that you're saying that that decision was made because of your concern that conditions at Abu Ghraib were, as I think someone else used the word -- maybe you did yourself -- dysfunctional? Is that correct?

SANCHEZ: Sir, that is exactly right. And it was dysfunctional in terms of the ability to defend the forward operating base. That was the judgment that I expressed in the issuance of that fragment.

LIEBERMAN: Got it. But that's what I wanted to clarify.

But at that time, the dysfunction that you saw at Abu Ghraib did not include your knowledge of prisoner abuse. Is that right?

SANCHEZ: Sir, that is exactly right.

Camp Redemption. Sheesh.

Lying sack of shit Sanchez

The world owes thanks to Specialist Joseph Darby for having the courage to make a complaining report regarding the activity at Abu Ghraib, or, obviously, the practices would have continued with the knowledge and approval of the highest ranking members of the U.S. armed forces.