FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
ACLU Obtains September 2003 Memo Central to Abu Ghraib Story
NEW YORK -- A memo signed by Lieutenant General Ricardo A. Sanchez authorizing 29 interrogation techniques, including 12 which far exceeded limits established by the Army's own Field Manual, was made public for the first time by the American Civil Liberties Union today.
"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."
The ACLU has a lawsuit pending against Sanchez alleging direct responsibility for the torture and abuse of detainees in U.S. military custody. The existence of the memo and excerpts of it were previously published in The Washington Post, but it is being reprinted in full here for the first time.
The Defense Department initially refused to release the September Sanchez memo on national security grounds. After the ACLU filed legal papers specifically challenging the withholding of the memo on those grounds, the Defense Department reconsidered its position and released the document to the ACLU late in the afternoon on Friday, March 25, 2005. At the same time, the Defense Department released a previously leaked October 12, 2003 Sanchez memo that superseded the September Sanchez memo.
In a letter sent yesterday to Judge Alvin K. Hellerstein, who is overseeing the case, the ACLU said that the Department of Defense (DOD) "has demonstrated a singular disregard for this Court's repeated orders and has continued to engage in a pattern of delay." DOD has asked four times for extensions in turning over documents.
The Sanchez memo dated September 14, 2003, specifically allows for interrogation techniques involving the use of military dogs specifically to "Exploit(s) Arab fear of dogs?," isolation, and stress positions.
The September Sanchez memo is posted online at /cpredirect/17561.
The October Sanchez memo is posted on line at /cpredirect/17560.
More than 30,000 pages of other released documents are posted online at /torturefoia.
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. Details about the Rumsfeld lawsuit are online at www.aclu.org/rumsfeld.
The FOIA lawsuit is being handled by Lawrence Lustberg and Megan Lewis of the New Jersey-based law firm Gibbons, Del Deo, Dolan, Griffinger & Vecchione, P.C. Other attorneys in the case are Singh, Jameel Jaffer, and Judy Rabinovitz of the ACLU; Arthur N. Eisenberg and Beth Haroules of the NYCLU; and Barbara Olshansky and Jeff Fogel of the Center for Constitutional Rights.