Have They No Shame?
Every Saturday, the president of the
gives a radio address to the nation. It is followed by the Democratic response, usually given by a senator or representative. This past Saturday the Democrats chose retired Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez to give their response, the same general accused in at least three lawsuits in the United States U.S. and Europe of authorizing torture and cruel, inhumane and degrading treatment of prisoners in . This, combined with the Democrats’ endorsement of Attorney General Michael Mukasey despite his unwillingness to label waterboarding as torture, indicates that the Democrats are increasingly aligned with President Bush’s torture policies. Iraq
Sanchez headed the Army’s operations in
Brig. Gen. Janis Karpinski, who headed Abu Ghraib at the time, worked under Gen. Sanchez. She was demoted to colonel, the only military officer to be punished. She told me about another illegal practice, holding prisoners as so-called ghost detainees: “We were directed on several occasions through Gen. [Barbara] Fast or Gen. Sanchez. The instructions were originating at the Pentagon from Secretary Rumsfeld, and we were instructed to hold prisoners without assigning a prisoner number or putting them on the database, and that is contrary to the Geneva Conventions. We all knew it was contrary to the Geneva Conventions.” In addition to keeping prisoners off the database there were other abuses, she said, like prison temperatures reaching 120 to 140 degrees, dehydration and the order from Gen. Geoffrey Miller to treat prisoners “like dogs.”
And it’s not just about treatment of prisoners. In 2006, Karpinski testified at a mock trial, called the Bush Crimes Commission. She revealed that several female
Former military interrogator Tony Lagouranis, author of “Fear Up Harsh,” described the use of dogs: “We were using dogs in the
Reed Brody of Human Rights Watch elaborated on Sanchez: “For those three months of mayhem that were occurring right under his nose, he never stepped in. And, also, he misled Congress about it. He was asked twice at a congressional hearing whether he ever approved the use of guard dogs. This was before the memo came out. And both times he said he never approved it. [W]e finally got the actual memo, in which he approves ‘exploiting Arab fear of dogs.’ ” Brody dismissed the military report clearing Sanchez of any wrongdoing: “It’s just not credible for the Army to keep investigating itself and keep finding itself innocent.”
This is not about politics. This is about the moral compass of the nation. The Democrats may be celebrating a retired general who has turned on his commander in chief. But the public should take pause.
The Democrats had a chance to draw a line in the sand, to absolutely require Mukasey to denounce waterboarding before his elevation to attorney general. Now they have chosen as their spokesman a discredited general, linked to the most egregious abuses in
Amy Goodman is the host of “Democracy Now!,” a daily international TV/radio news hour airing on 500 stations in