Iraq: ‘Nightmare With No End In Sight’

Last Friday, retired Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez blasted the Bush administration's handling of the Iraq war, calling it a "nightmare with no end in sight."

OCTOBER 15, 2007 by Faiz Shakir, Amanda Terkel, Satyam Khanna,
Matt Corley, Ali Frick, and Jeremy Richmond
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‘Nightmare With No End In Sight’

Last Friday, retired Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez blasted the Bush administration’s handling of the Iraq war, calling it a “nightmare with no end in sight.” Sanchez, who has received praise from President Bush for his “strong leadership” and for doing “a fabulous job,” joins a growing list of military officials who have attacked the Iraq war. His critique is notable not only because he is the most senior military officer to speak out against the war so far but also because he served as the top American commander in Iraq from 2003-2004. “From a catastrophically flawed, unrealistically optimistic war plan to the administration’s latest surge strategy, this administration has failed to employ and synchronize its political, economic and military power,” Sanchez said. “There has been a glaring, unfortunate display of incompetent strategic leadership within our national leaders. … There is no question that America is living a nightmare with no end in sight.” He added, “Who will demand accountability for the failure of our national political leaders involved in the management of this war? They have unquestionably been derelict in the performance of their duty.”

MILITARY OFFICALS AGREE WITH SANCHEZ: Sanchez joins the “more than 20 retired U.S. generals [who] have broken ranks with the culture of salute and keep it in the family” to speak out publicly against the war. Maj. Gen. John Batiste said last year, “I think the current administration repeatedly ignored sound military advice and counsel with respect to the war plans. … And military leaders of all ranks, particularly the senior military, have an obligation in a democracy to say something about it.” On CNN’s Late Edition yesterday, two other retired generals agreed with Sanchez’s main indictments of the Bush administration’s war policy. “This war has been done on the cheap from the very beginning,” retired U.S. Army Brigadier General David Grange said. “So I think yes, the whole country, all the leadership in the country is at fault for not putting the nation at war to accomplish this mission.” Criticism has not been confined to retired generals. At Fort Leavenworth, KS — “the intellectual center of the United States Army” — young officers are undergoing an “outspoken re-examination of their role in Iraq,” questioning who “deserved blame” for the war’s “major errors.”

ABU GHRAIB LINGERS: Sanchez has a mixed record when it comes to Iraq. A memorandum written and signed by Sanchez on Sept. 14, 2003, contained as an enclosure the specific interrogation techniques authorized to be used in Iraq, and also noted that these methods were potentially in contravention of the Geneva Conventions. In testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee, Sanchez denied signing off on these interrogation methods. He was the top military commander during the Abu Ghraib scandal, though he denied knowing of the abuse and maintains that he moved quickly to investigate it when he found out. An internal investigation cleared him of charges relating to the incident. To maintain the credibility of his current criticisms of the Iraq war policy, Sanchez will need to address his record — and his current views — on torture.

CONSERVATIVES DISMISS SANCHEZ: When asked about Sanchez’s remarks on Fox News Sunday, right-wing pundit Bill Kristol dismissed the former general’s opinion out of hand. “He’s simply wrong about what’s happening in Iraq today,” said Kristol. Conservative columnist Charles Krauthammer called Sanchez “a distraction.” “Look. General Sanchez, who presided over the disastrous first year of occupation, criticizing the Bush administration is like George McClellan criticizing the Lincoln administration conduct of the Civil War when he was in command,” Krauthammer said. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) also refused to respond to Sanchez’s substantive criticisms, and instead pointed the finger back at the general himself. “I appreciate his service,” Graham told CNN, “but Abu Ghraib got out of control under his watch, the war in general got out of control under his watch. And it’s not time to blame people, but his criticism is a bit astounding to me given his role in the war itself.”

TIME TO RESET THE MISSION: Sanchez declared that “continued manipulations and adjustments to our military strategy will not achieve victory” and that the best the United States could hope for is to “stave off defeat.” “Given the lack of a grand strategy we must move rapidly to minimize that force presence and allow the Iraqis maximum ability to exercise their sovereignty in achieving a solution,” he said. The Center for American Progress has outlined just such a progressive strategy to end the war, “Strategic Reset,” which calls for a phased redeployment of troops out of Iraq coupled with a “diplomatic surge” to bring Iraqis and neighbors in the region together.


MEDIA — FOX NEWS LAUNCHES NEW BUSINESS CHANNEL: Rupert Murdoch’s latest venture — the Fox Business Channel (FBC) — launches today.  In an extensive report on the new FBC, Media Matters states that viewers can expect “rampant falsehoods, statements praising the Bush administration, suggestive questioning, scantily clad women, and celebrities discussing the news of the day.” FBC’s host, Neil Cavuto, for example, has a history of making inflammatory and ill-informed statements about the economy. After Bush adviser Karl Rove resigned from the White House, Cavuto asked: “Karl Rove leaving: A loss for Wall Street?” In May 2006, Cavuto interviewed Playboy founder Hugh Hefner and Playboy model Kara Monaco, who had just been named the 2006 Playmate of the Year, stating “this really is a big, big business story.” Explaining FBC’s new aims, Fox News CEO Roger Ailes said in February, “Many times I’ve seen things on CNBC where they are not as friendly to corporations and profits as they should be.” Murdoch’s recent acquisition of the Dow Jones & Company is already proving fruitful. CNBC, the rival that Murdoch seeks to “conquer,” purchased advertising on two Dow Jones websites, but was informed last Tuesday that they would not run on the day of Fox Business’s launch.

RADICAL RIGHT — FOX ALL STARS: ‘ANTI-AMERICAN’ AL GORE SHOULDN’T HAVE WON NOBEL FOR ‘BLOVIATING’ ABOUT GLOBAL WARMING: On Fox News Sunday, Weekly Standard editor William Kristol and conservative columnist Charles Krauthammer attacked former Vice President Al Gore’s Nobel Peace Prize win, calling him “anti-American” and derisively claiming that he got the award for “nothing” but “bloviating about global warming.” Sarcastically calling Gore’s win “deeply moving,” Kristol disparaged Gore and the Nobel prize itself, saying “it’s a prize given by bloviators to a bloviator.” Claiming that the Nobel Peace Prize is “the Kentucky Derby of the world left,” Krauthammer was even more shrill than Kristol, saying, “Al Gore now joins the ranks of Yasser Arafat, the father of modern terrorism.” He then claimed the award “has nothing to do with peace” and that the judges give “it to people whose politics are either anti-American or anti-Bush, and that’s why [Gore] won it.” Kristol and Krauthammer’s attacks continue the efforts of Fox and the right to undermine the importance of Gore and the IPCC’s efforts to make climate change a central issue on the world stage. But, as NPR’s Juan Williams noted when responding to Kristol and Krauthammer, Gore has taken the global lead on an issue that the Bush administration didn’t “even acknowledge for a long time.” Kristol and Krauthammer’s attacks are just “sour grapes,” Williams said, over Gore’s success in exposing and undermining the far right’s vast disinformation campaign against global warming science.

GLOBAL WARMING — BRITISH CLIMATE CHANGE SKEPTIC BACKED BY CORPORATE ENERGY LOBBY: Yesterday, news reports revealed that Stewart Dimmock, who filed a lawsuit seeking to prevent British schools from screening An Inconvenient Truth, was financially backed by energy lobbies seeking to discredit Al Gore’s film. Dimmock reportedly received funds from “a network of business interests, including ones with links to the fuel and mining industries,” as well as Scientific Alliance, a British group with links to Exxon Mobil. Dimmock’s case was seized upon by right-wing ideologues as a barometer for the scientific accuracy of An Inconvenient Truth. When London’s High Court finally issued its ruling last week, many media reports wrote that the judge found “nine scientific errors” in the film. Fox News seized upon the case and reported that the ruling had confirmed that “Al Gore exaggerated climate change.” In fact, the court found that the film was “broadly accurate,” allowing it to be shown in British schools accompanied by “guidance notes.” As Tim Lambert points out, in his ruling the judge did not actually say there were “errors” in the film, but merely “referred to the things that [Dimmock’s lawyer] alleged were errors.” News coverage also largely ignored the fact that the judge stated he was not attempting to perform “an analysis of the scientific questions” in his ruling.


The U.S. military believes it has dealt a “devastating and perhaps irreversible blows to al-Qaeda in Iraq” in recent months, leading some generals to advocate a “declaration of victory” over the group. “I think it would be premature at this point,” a senior intelligence official said of a victory declaration over AQI.

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is sticking up for Donald Rumsfeld in a battle with students and professors at Stanford University. “Universities ought to be places where all views are welcomed,” Rice told ABC News. “Stanford has always been a place that has been able to tolerate many different views.”

“As the chief federal trial judge in Manhattan, Michael Mukasey approved secret warrants allowing government roundups of Muslims in the days after the Sept. 11 attacks.” Confirmation hearings are set to begin on Wednesday, and detentions are likely to be a “hot topic.”

On Friday, Justice Department officials indicated that they may hold “new hearings for some” Guantanamo Bay “detainees to decide whether they are being properly held.” Lawyers for detainees say the move may be “a ‘massive’ repeat of the military’s combatant-status hearings originally held in 2004 and 2005.”

A new study by the Women’s Campaign Forum finds that the number of top women aides on Capitol Hill is rising. The study found “that 23 percent of top Senate staffers and 31 percent of top aides in the House are women, compared with 16 percent of Senators who are women and 17 percent of House Members.”

The Food and Drug Administration is “moving with unprecedented speed to launch a drug research center to be paid for by companies it regulates.” Its goal is to “streamline and improve the development of drugs and medical devices, a goal long sought by regulators and the biggest players in the industry.”

And finally: On Saturday, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice turned down the chance to “show off her ice-skating talents” during a visit to a rink in Russia. “There is this theory that ice skating is like riding a bicycle: you just get back on it, you immediately know how to do it,” she said. “I’m not going to take that chance — just in case it’s not true!” Rice was a competitive ice skater between the ages of 12 and 17, but hasn’t skated for the past 10 years.

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A new report shows cancer deaths declined on average 2.1 percent each year from 2002 to 2004, a rate “nearly twice the annual decrease from 1993 to 2002.”


MINNESOTA: The 2,600 members of the Minnesota National Guard who recently returned from 16 months in Iraq get “their first glimpse at a state program intended to help them overcome the challenges of life at home.”

OREGON: “For the second time in a week, opponents of new gay-rights laws have failed to get a referendum on the November 2008 ballot.”

FLORIDA: Florida lawmakers propose a budget with cuts “that take aim at schools, colleges and healthcare providers across the state.”


THINK PROGRESS: NPR correspondent Juan Williams: Weekly Standard editor Bill Kristol is pushing for “the next world war.”

BLOG OF LEGAL TIMES: Sara Taylor, a former White House aide to Karl Rove, has registered to lobby for an energy group.

INSIDE CABLE NEWS: Right-wing blogger Michelle Malkin will no longer appear on Fox News’s The O’Reilly Factor.

THE HORSE’S MOUTH: Even the conservative Wall Street Journal editorial page says the right-wing attack on the Frost family over SCHIP is wrong.


“After September the 11th…I authorized the National Security Agency to intercept the international communications of people with known links to al Qaeda and related terrorist organizations.”
–President Bush, 5/11/06


“Former chief executive Joseph P. Nacchio…said the NSA approached Qwest more than six months before the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks [about surveillance contracts].”
–Washington Post, 10/13/07

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