Scoop Emerges from MRE Confab: Former Top General in Iraq Hits War Progress -- and Reporters

Article excerpt

An appearance by the former top U.S. general in Iraq at the annual conference of the Military Reporters and Editors group in Arlington, Va., led to national headlines, including a story that would top the web site of The New York Times on Friday and that paper's front page on Monday.

Lt. Gen Richard S. Sanchez called the Bush administration's handling of the war incompetent and warned that this country was "living a nightmare with no end in sight." He called the current "surge" a "desperate" move and just the latest in the "catastrophically flawed, unrealistically optimistic war plan."

He headed U.S. forces in Iraq from June 2003 to June 2004. He left the Army in 2006 and had made few public statements since.

An article in Army Times opened today: "The former top commander of forces in Iraq lambasted reporters Friday for having 'agenda-driven biases' he called 'a threat to democracy,' and then laid out the Bush administration and Congress for bad planning and no clear end state for the war in Iraq."

Sanchez said, "After more than fours years of fighting, America continues its desperate struggle in Iraq without any concerted effort to devise a strategy that will achieve victory in that war-torn country or in the greater conflict against extremism."

The New York Times reported, "Asked following his remarks why he waited nearly a year after his retirement to outline his views, he responded that that it was not the place of active duty officers to challenge lawful orders from civilian authorities. General Sanchez, who is said to be considering a book, promised further public statements criticizing officials by name. 'There was been a glaring and unfortunate display of incompetent strategic leadership within our national leaders,' he said, adding later in his remarks that civilian officials have been 'derelict in their duties' and guilty of a 'lust for power.'

"The White House had no initial comment....

"Questioned by reporters after his speech, he included the military and himself among those who made mistakes in Iraq, citing the failure to insist on a better post-invasion stabilization plan. …