Tuesday, June 5

The Nexus of Failure Bewteen Gen Sanchez, Gitmo and Abu Ghraib

Many people have reported the news that yesterday Retired Lt. Gen Ricardo Sanchez joined the chorus of other former generals including Gen Wesley Clark, Gen Batiste, Gen Odom and Gen Eaton as well as a host of others like Sen Harry Reid who've stated that the Iraq War Is Lost (Militarily).

On the same day it was announced that the Military Tribunals which were intended to prosecuted "Alien Unlawful Enemy Combatants" had been evicerated by not one - but TWO seperate judges independant of each other.

Gen Sanchez knows where more than a few bodies are buried for the Bush Administration.

He was not only overall commander for the Iraq Theater when it began, and the insurgency exploded, he was also the commander who implemented Donald Rumsfeld's 29 expanded interrogation techniques in order to "Gitmo-ize" Iraq and Abu Ghraib as documented in HBO's Ghosts of Abu Ghraib.

From the ACLU FOIA Files.

September 2003
[Sanchez] authorizes the use of 29 interrogation techniques for use in Iraq, including the use of dogs, stress positions, sensory deprivation, loud music and light control, based on Rumsfeld’s April 16 techniques and suggestions from captain of military unit formerly in Afghanistan.

Sanchez also, as commanding officer for the theater is the one who shifted jurisdiction over Tier 1a/1b at Abu Ghraib from it's overall commander Gen. Karpinski (who was essentially head MP) to Gen Geoffrey Miller who worked with Military Intelligence and had just been transfered in - from Gitmo.

As a result of his involvement Sanchez was been included on a list of U.S. War Criminals by Amnesty International over two years ago.

I bring all this up because Sanchez has a bit more to lose in coming out so strongly against the Bush Administration than Gen Batiste did in losing his gig with CBS.

Gen Karpinski, who was demoted to Colonel even though she had absolutely nothing to do with the events on Tier 1a/1b had to go to Spanish Television to make the point that she had obtained signed documents by Rumsfeld authorizing civilian contractors to do the same types of things that happenedd on Tier 1a.

Former U.S. Army Brigadier General Janis Karpinski told Spain's El Pais newspaper she had seen a letter apparently signed by Rumsfeld which allowed civilian contractors to use techniques such as sleep deprivation during interrogation.

Karpinski, who ran the prison until early 2004, said she saw a memorandum signed by Rumsfeld detailing the use of harsh interrogation methods.

Can you imagine what Sanchez might have copies of?

And conversely can you image what the Pentagon might have tucked away which could potentially hang Sanchez for violations of the Uniform Code of Military Justices prohibition against the Maltreatment of Prisoners?

Not to mention the Geneva Conventions, and the U.S. prohibition against torture.

This bring us to the Military Commission Act which was nothing more than an attempt to cover-up the numerous War Crimes commited at Gitmo, Abu Ghraib and Bagram AFB in Afghanistan.

It allowed for the use of coerced evidence.

It allowed for various forms of torture by changing the War Crimes Act to comport with the Bybee Memo allowing for any type of treatment short of death or organ failure to be excluded as "torture".

It suspended habeas corpus for "unlawful alien enemy combatants".

It established a "Combat Status Review Tribunal" system to evaluate whether someone should be or should be considered and "alien unlawful enemy combatant" that simply doesn't work.

But the fatal flaw in the MCA as it was exposed this week is something I pointed out last year when it was passed.

Clearly if one is found by the CSRT to not be an Unlawful Combatant, one would not automatically go free. What should occur - in a far more prefect world than this one - is that they would then be relegated to the regular Civilian or Courts Martial as a "Lawful Enemy Combatant". The CSRT itself is far from a "Get out of GITMO Free" Card. If the CSRT finding is "Unlawful", the detainee then skips "Go" and heads forward to his Military Tribunal Only if the President subsequently seeks to press charges -- if he does not, that person disappears into a [legal] black hole. Forever.

This is the legal blackhole that Omar Khadr and get this - Salim Hamdan - yes, that Salim Hamdan - have now fallen into.

In separate decisions, Army Col. Peter Brownback and Navy Capt. Keith Allred said that designation was insufficient under the Military Commissions Act of 2006.

Brownback said the act specifically limited trials to detainees tagged as "unlawful enemy combatants" and barred trials of "lawful enemy combatants." Without a more specific designation, a military commission has no authority to act, he found.

"A person has a right to be tried only by a court that has jurisdiction over him," said Brownback, who ruled in the Khadr case.

Allred used slightly different logic to reach the same conclusion. He said Hamdan "is either entitled to the designation as a prisoner-of-war or he is an alien unlawful enemy combatant. Or he is entitled to another status."

In trying so hard to cover their tracks for thier War Crimes, Bush and Co have created a system that is completely unworkable.

The chief Guantanamo defense counsel, Marine Corps Col. Dwight Sullivan, noted that each captive now held there was classified as an "enemy combatant," not an "unlawful enemy combatant."

Sullivan, who oversees the defense of all military commission cases, declared the war court "a complete failure." He urged the Pentagon to end its efforts to prosecute Guantanamo detainees under the Military Commissions Act.

"The system right now should just stop," Sullivan said. "The commission is an experiment that failed, and we don't need any more evidence that it is a failure."

Of course rather than shift all of the Gitmo detainees into a normal POW situation or try them under standard Courts Martial the government instead intends to appeal - except the appeals court for the Military Commissions doesn't exist yet.

Isn't that just dandy?

I don't know, maybe it's guilt, maybe it's the fact that the firewall that the MCA establish around his War Crimes is begining to crack and crumble like a wet cookie that Ricardo Sanchez is finally now telling the truth. Maybe it's something else - like honor.

If indeed the Iraq War is lost - it's because Sanchez Lost It for us by refusing chosing to implement a Clearly Illegal Order when there really might have been an chance of affecting "Hearts and Minds" before Abu Ghraib turned those hearts against us permanently.

Whatever it is, I think things are going to be very, very intesresting between now and September.

In fact, it might just get very intesting later today during the Republican Debate if they get asked about Sanchez' statement, the Judges decision in these Gitmo cases (Damn those Activist Military Judges), or better yet - the Libby Verdict.

Yes, indeed - we live in interesting times.


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