Army Clears Top Abu Ghraib Case Officers
The Army has formally exhonerated LTG Ricardo Sanchez and other senior officers on his staff of criminal wrongdoing in the Abu Ghraib prison scandal.
The Army has cleared four top officers Ã¢€” including the three-star general who commanded all U.S. forces in Iraq Ã¢€” of all allegations of wrongdoing in connection with prisoner abuse at Abu Ghraib and will not be punished, officials said Friday.
Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez, who became the senior commander in Iraq in June 2003, two months after the fall of Baghdad, had been faulted in earlier investigations for leadership lapses that may have contributed to prisoner abuse. He is the highest ranking officer to face official allegations of leadership failures in Iraq, but he has not been accused of criminal violations.
After assessing the allegations against Sanchez and taking sworn statements from 37 people involved in Iraq, the Army’s inspector general, Lt. Gen. Stanley E. Green, concluded that the allegations were unsubstantiated, said the officials who were familiar with the details of Green’s probe. Green reached the same conclusion in the cases of two generals and a colonel who worked for Sanchez.
The officials who disclosed the findings spoke only on condition of anonymity because Congress has not yet been fully briefed on Green’s findings and the information has not yet been publicly released. Green had scrutinized the actions of Sanchez and 11 other officers.
This is hardly surprising and, indeed, is almost certainly the right outcome. Sanchez and his staff were focused on running the overall operations in Iraq. It’s simply unreasonable to hold them criminally responsible for the actions of subordinates several echelons beyond their span of control. Now, BG Karpinski, who actually commanded the prisons in Iraq, would be a reasonable target of such probes.