Army Memo Released By ACLU Suggests Perjury In Lt. Gen. Sanchez Sworn Testimony on Torture

March 31, 2005 12:00 am

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WASHINGTON – The American Civil Liberties Union today sent a letter to Attorney General Alberto Gonzales asking him to open an investigation into possible perjury by Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez, the theater commander at the outset of the Iraq War. The ACLU said that a memo sent by Lt. Gen Sanchez flatly contradicts sworn testimony given by him before the Senate Armed Services Committee, in which he denied authorizing highly coercive interrogation methods.

“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. “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.”

Although the Washington Post first disclosed its existence, the memorandum at issue was initially withheld from public release by the Defense Department under national security grounds. The ACLU obtained a physical copy of the memorandum, however, under an ongoing Freedom of Information Act lawsuit, and released a hard copy on Tuesday.

The memorandum, dated September 14, 2003, was signed by Lt. Gen. Sanchez and laid out specific interrogation techniques, modeled on those used against detainees at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, for use by coalition forces in Iraq. These include sleep “management,” the inducement of fear at two levels of severity, loud music and sensory agitation, and the use of canine units to “exploit [the] Arab fear of dogs.”

During sworn testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee, Lt. Gen. Sanchez flatly denied approving any such techniques in Iraq, and said that a news article reporting otherwise was false.

Specifically, Senator Jack Reed (D-RI) asked 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.” To which Sanchez replied, using the acronym for Coalition Joint Task Force-7, “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.”

“We deserve to know if our military commanders are being honest when reporting to Congress and the American people what’s been done in our country’s name,” said Christopher E. Anders, an ACLU Legislative Counsel. “The attorney general clearly has to bring us those answers by appointing an independent investigator, and possible perjury is a good place to start.”

Earlier this month, the ACLU and Human Rights First filed a lawsuit charging Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld with direct responsibility for the torture and abuse of detainees in U.S. military custody. The action was the first federal court lawsuit to name a top U.S. official in the ongoing torture scandal in Iraq and Afghanistan; many of the charges are based on documents obtained through the FOIA lawsuit. The ACLU has also filed separate lawsuits naming Brig. Gen. Karpinski, Col. Thomas Pappas and Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez.

The ACLU’s letter to Gonzales is at:

The September Sanchez memo is available at:

The exchange with Senator Jack Reed is at:

More than 30,000 pages of other released documents are posted online at:

Details about the Rumsfeld lawsuit are online at:

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