The U.S. military command on Sunday denied a Washington Post report that the top U.S. general in Iraq was present during some interrogations at the Abu Ghraib prison and witnessed some abuse of Iraqi inmates.
In a story published Sunday, The Post said a military lawyer testified at an open hearing last month that Capt. Donald J. Reese told him that Lt. Gen. Ricardo S. Sanchez and other senior military officers were aware of the abuse at the prison.
The military lawyer, Capt. Robert Shuck, represents Staff Sgt. Ivan L. "Chip" Frederick II, one of seven members of the 372nd Military Police Company facing criminal charges in the abuse of Iraqi inmates. Reese is the company commander.
"There was a news report published May 23, 2004, which suggests that Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez, commander of Multinational Forces-Iraq was aware of, and in some instances, present at Abu Ghraib while detainee abuse was occurring," the U.S. military said in a statement. "This report is false, and . . . Sanchez stands by his testimony before congressional committees" that he was unaware of the abuses until he ordered an investigation into the allegations in January.
The scandal received worldwide exposure last month when CBS's "60 Minutes II" broadcast photos of American guards abusing and sexually humiliating Iraqi prisoners.