Jun 12, 2004

Sanchez and Abu Ghraib

Washington Post:

Lt. Gen. Ricardo S. Sanchez, the senior U.S. military officer in Iraq, borrowed heavily from a list of high-pressure interrogation tactics used at the U.S. detention center in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and approved letting senior officials at a Baghdad jail use military dogs, temperature extremes, reversed sleep patterns, sensory deprivation, and diets of bread and water on detainees whenever they wished, according to newly obtained documents.

 

The U.S. policy, details of which have not been previously disclosed, was approved in early September, shortly after an Army general sent from Washington completed his inspection of the Abu Ghraib jail and then returned to brief Pentagon officials on his ideas for using military police there to help implement the new high-pressure methods.

The documents obtained by The Washington Post spell out in greater detail than previously known the interrogation tactics Sanchez authorized, and make clear for the first time that, before last October, they could be imposed without first seeking the approval of anyone outside the prison. That gave officers at Abu Ghraib wide latitude in handling detainees.

Unnamed officials at the Florida headquarters of the U.S. Central Command, which has overall military responsibility for Iraq, objected to some of the 32 interrogation tactics approved by Sanchez in September, including the more severe methods that he had said could be used at any time in Abu Ghraib with the consent of the interrogation officer in charge.

As a result, Sanchez decided on Oct. 12 to remove several items on the list and to require that prison officials obtain his direct approval for the remaining high-pressure methods. Among the tactics apparently dropped were those that would take away prisoners’ religious items; control their exposure to light; inflict “pride and ego down,” which means attacking detainees’ sense of pride or worth; and allow interrogators to pretend falsely to be from a country that deals severely with detainees, according to the documents.

The high-pressure options that remained included taking someone to a less hospitable location for interrogation; manipulating his or her diet; imposing isolation for more than 30 days; using military dogs to provoke fear; and requiring someone to maintain a “stress position” for as long as 45 minutes. These were not dropped by Sanchez until a scandal erupted in May over photographs depicting abuse at the prison.


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