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Retired Gen. Sanchez, Who Set the Stage for Abu Ghraib, Calls for a Torture Truth Commission

Via Zachary Roth at TPMmuckraker, The Huffington Post reports that retired Gen. Ricardo Sanchez, commander of U.S. troops in Iraq from 2003 to 2004, called for a truth commission on torture. He’s the first such Bush-era senior official or military officer who might face sanctions* * from such a commission to propose creating one.

Sanchez, you’ll recall, received a wink-and-nod mixed message from Gen. Geoffrey Miller, then the commander of the Guantanamo Bay detention facility, to “Gitmo-ize” interrogations in Iraq. (The mixture in that message is that Guantanamo was supposed to be exempt from the Geneva Conventions while Iraq was supposed to apply them, so “Gitmo-izing” meant violating international law that on paper Sanchez was supposed to follow.) Shortly thereafter, Sanchez issued a September 2003 memorandum authorizing SERE-derived interrogation techniques like “military working dogs, stress positions, sleep deprivation, loud music, and light control.” Although a scandalized U.S. Central Command withdrew Sanchez’s memo the following month, the damage was done, according to the Senate Armed Services Committee’s recent torture report (pdf), as Abu Ghraib guards and interrogators that fall acted in line with Sanchez’s instructions. His career basically ended as a result — well, that and the disastrous war he presided over — and Sanchez has expressed bitterness that his future should have to be blighted by something as trivial as an international disgrace and possible war crime.

Maybe this is Sanchez’s attempt at accepting responsibility for his failings. He should be commended if so. On the other hand, Sanchez has never really demonstrated an aptitude for strategy, so it could be he’s blundering into his latest mistake out of an expectation that he’ll be vindicated.

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