How long does Donald Rumsfeld think the American public can remember something? Only about eight months.
Last October, the LA Times reported Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld was itching to promote Army Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez, the man who had been in charge of American troops in Iraq. Rumsfeld, however, realized Sanchez was politically “radioactive.” The American public was still too steamed about Sanchez’s role in the torture at Abu Ghraib prison. Rumsfeld, counting on the short attention span of the American public, decided to “wait until after the Nov. 2 presidential election and investigations of the Abu Ghraib scandal have faded” to hand Sanchez his promotion.
Well, that day came yesterday. The New York Times reported Gen. Ricardo Sanchez is now being considered for a new, top-level position: the head of American military operations in Latin America. It would be a big promotion.
In case you actually have forgotten what made Sanchez so “radioactive,” here’s a refresher:
First, there was the 9/14/03 classified memo signed by Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez which authorized prisoner interrogation tactics that were harsher than accepted Army practice. These tactics ended up setting the scene for the subsequent abuse at Abu Ghraib and included 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.”
Sanchez also issued an order on 10/12/03, shortly before the most publicized abuses occurred at Abu Ghraib, “explicitly calling for interrogators to assume control over the ‘lighting, heating…food, clothing, and shelter’ of those being questioned there.” Sanchez directed intelligence officers to work with the military police to “manipulate an internee’s emotions and weaknesses.” Many in Congress believe the “language in the memo helped set the stage for the abuses and were part of a Washington-inspired effort to squeeze more information from Iraqis.”
Sanchez also was involved in the development of “‘wish lists’ of harsh interrogation techniques” which included tactics such as “low-voltage electrocution, blows with phone books and using dogs and snakes.”
Finally, when Department of Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld wanted to secretly hold a prisoner in Iraq away from the eyes of the Red Cross (which was monitoring prisoner abuse at the time), he told Sanchez not to assign the prisoner a serial number and not to “acknowledge that we are detaining him to any international organization.” A Pentagon official acknowledged Sanchez’s decision to comply with Rumsfeld’s order was in violation of international law.
Prove Rumsfeld wrong. Remember why Sanchez does not deserve a promotion.