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ARLINGTON, Va. — The American Civil Liberties Union is charging that Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez lied to Congress last year when testifying on the Abu Ghraib prison uproar.

Under pressure from the ACLU, the Pentagon this week released a Sept. 14, 2003, memo signed by Sanchez, outlining approved tactics for learning information from prisoners at Abu Ghraib and other detention facilities across Iraq.

Among the techniques Sanchez approved were sleep deprivation, loud music and sensory overload, and the use of canine units to “exploit Arab fear of dogs.”

When asked about those tactics by Sen. Jack Reed (D-R.I.), during a May 2004 hearing, Sanchez said, “I never approved any of those measures to be used within CJTF-7 at any time in the last year.”

Sanchez led the top military command in Iraq, Coalition Joint Task Force 7, from June 2003 to July 2004.

“Lt. Gen. Sanchez’s testimony, given under oath before the Senate Armed Services committee, is utterly inconsistent with the written record, and deserves serious investigation,” said Anthony D. Romero, ACLU Executive Director in a statement. “This clear breach of the public’s trust is also further proof that the American people deserve the appointment of an independent special counsel by the attorney general.”

The memo also raises questions on Pentagon findings that there was no formal policy to thwart international laws on the treatment of detainees, says the ACLU.

“General Sanchez authorized interrogation techniques that were in clear violation of the Geneva Conventions and the Army’s own standards,” said ACLU attorney Amrit Singh. “He and other high-ranking officials who bear responsibility for the widespread abuse of detainees must be held accountable.”

Pentagon officials, however, are backing Sanchez.

“There have now been 10 major lines of inquiry, to include one done by an independent panel, that have found there was no policy that condoned or encouraged abuse of any type,” said Defense Department spokesman Lt. Col. John Skinner.

The argument may become one of semantics on how the word “approved” is defined.

Sanchez’s memo states he was setting policy for all units in Iraq.

“I approve the use of specified interrogations and counter-resistance techniques,” he wrote, but added written consent and legal review would be needed for use of the more controversial tactics on a case-by-case basis.

“What some fail to point out,” said Skinner, is the “use of dogs” was a technique that required prior approval by Gen. Sanchez before it could be used for a specific detainee. Gen. Sanchez testified no one ever sought his approval to use this technique — so he therefore never approved its use with a detainee.

That and other controversial techniques were rescinded in a follow-up memo issued in October 2003.

The general wrote that “CJTF-7 is operating in a theater of war in which the Geneva Conventions are applicable. Coalition forces will continue to treat all persons under their control humanely,” but he also repeatedly pointed out that several of the techniques could violate the Geneva Conventions.

“Other nations that believe that (Enemy Prisoner of War) protections apply to detainees may view this technique as inconsistent with Geneva” Conventions, wrote Sanchez, regarding at least three tactics he was approving.

Both Sanchez and Pappas have since returned to their home stations in Germany after more than a year in Iraq. Sanchez remains in command of the Heidelberg-based V Corps and Pappas still commands the 205th MI Brigade in Darmstadt.


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