Retired Gen. Sanchez savages Iraq policy He calls U.S. leaders inept, mission flawed
By ERIC ROSENBERG Copyright 2007 Hearst News Service
WASHINGTON — Retired Army Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez, the former top military commander in Iraq, on Friday delivered a blistering critique of U.S. involvement in the Iraq conflict, calling American political leaders "incompetent."
Addressing an audience of journalists who cover the military, Sanchez said the armed force's mission to invade Iraq and overthrow Saddam Hussein was flawed from the start.
National leaders, said Sanchez, "have unquestionably been derelict in the performance of their duty. In my profession, these types of leaders would immediately be relieved or court-martialed."
On the U.S. occupation amid continuing sectarian strife in Iraq, Sanchez said: "There is no question that America is living a nightmare with no end in sight."
Sanchez — the most senior retired U.S. commander in Iraq to criticize the Bush administration — called the White House's post-invasion plans "unrealistically optimistic" and "catastrophically flawed."
Sanchez, who retired in 2006 after being replaced in Iraq after the Abu Ghraib prisoner abuse scandal, is vulnerable to criticism that he is shifting the blame from himself to the administration.
Sanchez refused to single out any particular individual for his harsh assessment, but instead criticized the "neglect and incompetence at the (White House) National Security Council level" for failures in Iraq. Sanchez said the State Department in particular "must shoulder responsibility for this catastrophic failure."
While he did not criticize any official by name on Friday, he promised he will do so later.