Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Open and shut

A while ago I reported that Lt General Ricardo Sanchez, previously commander of US forces in Iraq, was facing legal action in both Germany and the US alleging that he was responsible for the torture and abuse of Iraqi detainees by US forces in Iraq. Those cases just became open and shut. The ACLU has obtained a copy of the September 2003 memo in which Sanchez lays out the techniques which may be used by US Army interrogators when questioning detainees. Twelve of the 29 techniques authorised violate either US Army regulations or the Geneva Conventions. Several of these techniques, including isolation, "stress positions", and use of military working dogs to "exploit(s) Arab fear of dogs" were used to abuse and torture prisoners at Abu Ghraib.

So far the US government has not done anything to hold Sanchez responsible, even for his gross violations of US military regulations (in another incident, he personally ordered a prisoner of war to be held "off the books" and hidden from Red Cross inspectors). It's a sad indictement of the current state of the US that private individuals have to do this through the courts, rather than being able to rely on the federal government to enforce its own laws.