ACLU Letter to Attorney General Gozales Requesting Investigation of Possible Perjury by General Ricardo A. Sanchez

March 30, 2005

The Honorable Alberto Gonzales
Department of Justice
Robert F. Kennedy Building
Tenth Street and Constitution Avenue, N.W.
Washington, D.C.  20530

Make a Difference

Your support helps the ACLU stand up for human rights and defend civil liberties.

Give Now

Re: Request for Investigation of Possible Perjury by General Ricardo A. Sanchez; Renewal of Request for an Outside Special Counsel to Investigate and Prosecute Violations or Conspiracies to Violate Criminal Laws Against Torture or Abuse of Detainees

Dear Attorney General Gonzales:

The American Civil Liberties Union strongly urges you to open an investigation into whether General Ricardo A. Sanchez committed perjury in his sworn testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee on May 19, 2004.  We also renew our request, made in a letter to you of February 15, 2005 that you appoint an outside special counsel for the investigation and prosecution of any and all criminal acts committed in the mistreatment of detainees held in Abu Ghraib, other places in Iraq or Afghanistan, Guantanamo Bay, or transferred by the United States to foreign countries that engage in torture or abuse of prisoners.  An outside special counsel is the only way to ensure that all persons who violated the War Crimes Act, 18 U.S.C. 2441, or who violated, or conspired to violate, the Anti-Torture Act, 18 U.S.C. 2340-2340A, or other federal laws against torture and abuse will be held accountable and responsible for criminal wrongdoing.  

During sworn testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee on May 19, 2004, Senator Jack Reed asked General Sanchez, who commanded the Combined Joint Task Force Seven (CJTF-7) in Iraq, whether he ""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.""  General Sanchez testified in response that he ""never approved any of those measures to be used in CJTF-7 at any time in the last year"" and that he ""never approved the use of any of those methods within CJTF-7 in the 12.5 months that I've been in Iraq.""

However, a document that the Defense Department released to us late in the afternoon of Friday, March 25, 2005 specifically contradicts General Sanchez's testimony.  In a memorandum signed by General Sanchez and dated September 14, 2003, General Sanchez ordered the immediate implementation of a policy signed by him, entitled ""CJTF-7 Interrogation and Counter-Resistance Policy.""  The policy approved by him for interrogation of ""detainees, security internees and enemy prisoners of war under the control of CJTF-7"" specifically approves ""significantly increasing the fear level in a detainee,"" ""adjusting the sleep times of the detainee (e.g., reversing sleep cycles from night to day),"" ""sleep management:  detainee provided minimum 4 hours of sleep per 24 hour period, not to exceed 72 continuous hours.""  The policy also approves for detainees who are not prisoners of war (and sets up an individualized approval process for prisoners of war) additional techniques, including ""yelling, loud music, and light control:  used to create fear, disorient detainee, and prolong capture shock.  Volume controlled to prevent injury,"" and ""presence of military working dogs:  exploits Arab fear of dogs while maintaining security during interrogation.  Dogs will be muzzled and under control of MWD handler at all times to prevent contact with detainee.""

The September 14, 2003 memorandum signed by General Sanchez does not square with his testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee.  The need for General Sanchez and all high-level government officials to tell the truth could not be more important.  The nation cannot afford to have anyone covering up their wrongdoing when such horrific abuse was the result.  And the nation needs a clear accounting of the extent to which the United States government tortured and abused persons under its custody and control.  For these reasons, we urge you to order an investigation, and if appropriate, prosecution for any criminal acts arising from General Sanchez's testimony, as well as for any illegal actions taken pursuant to the September 14, 2003 memorandum.

We also emphasize again the need for you to appoint an outside special counsel.  There is an obvious public interest in investigating and prosecuting all persons committing torture or abuse or conspiring to commit those crimes against persons being held by the United States.  A small number of enlisted men and women and a few low-ranking military officers should not be the only persons held responsible, if civilians and top military officers also engaged in wrongdoing.  Given the increasing evidence of deliberate and widespread use of torture and abuse, and that such conduct was the predictable result of policy changes made at the highest levels of government, an outside special counsel is clearly in the public interest.  Moreover, your leadership at the Justice Department would clearly benefit from putting all these outstanding matters related to the torture issue to rest.            

Thank you for your attention to this matter, and we look forward to your response.

Very truly yours,

Anthony D. Romero
Executive Director
ACLU

Laura W. Murphy
Director
ACLU Washington Legislative Office

Christopher E. Anders
Legislative Counsel
ACLU Washington Legislative Office

Statistics image