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Retired U.S. commander speaks out for Democrats

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  • Greg Cannon
    http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20071124/pl_nm/iraq_usa_democrats_dc;_ylt=At0A44UYWEOL5g7Q1fsQ0xes0NUE Retired U.S. commander speaks out for Democrats By Randall
    Message 1 of 1 , Nov 24 10:48 AM

      Retired U.S. commander speaks out for Democrats

      By Randall Mikkelsen 1 hour, 16 minutes ago

      WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The general who led U.S. forces
      in Iraq after the invasion launched by Republican
      President George W. Bush spoke out for Democrats on
      Saturday, backing legislation aimed at withdrawing
      American troops.

      Retired Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez, in the Democratic
      weekly radio address, acknowledged that Bush's
      escalation strategy this year had improved security in
      Iraq. But he said Iraqi political leaders had failed
      to make "hard choices necessary to bring peace to
      their country."

      "There is no evidence that the Iraqis will choose to
      do so in the near future or that we have an ability to
      force that result," said Sanchez, an increasingly
      vocal critic of what he called Bush administration
      policy failures in Iraq.

      He endorsed the latest attempt by Democrats in the
      House of Representatives to use Iraq-war funding
      legislation to push for a reduction of U.S. troops.
      The House passed a measure last week that would have
      set a goal of withdrawing all U.S. combat troops from
      Iraq by December 15, 2008, but Republicans in the
      Senate blocked it.

      Such attempts have regularly failed to overcome Bush's
      opposition and a reduction in violence in recent
      months has eased some of the political pressure on the
      White House for a change in strategy.

      But Sanchez urged a rapid cut in the U.S. military
      presence by shifting the troops' main mission away
      from combat, and he said the House measure "makes the
      proper preparation" for a troop reduction.

      "It is well past time to adopt a new approach in Iraq
      that will improve chances to produce stability in the
      Middle East," he said. "I urge our political leaders
      to put aside partisan considerations and unite to
      lessen the burden our troops and their families have
      been under for nearly five years."

      The Pentagon said Iraq strategy should be guided by
      current commanders there. Spokesman Bryan Whitman,
      asked about Sanchez's remarks, said, "I think our
      military commanders that are on the ground in Iraq
      today are in the best position to make recommendations
      to the nation's leadership about the progress that's
      being made and the best strategy to embark upon."

      Sanchez commanded the U.S.-led coalition in Iraq from
      June 2003 until July 2004 as the anti-U.S. insurgency
      took hold. He retired in 2006 and blamed the Abu
      Ghraib prisoner abuse scandal for wrecking his career.

      Last month Sanchez blamed the Bush administration for
      a "catastrophic failure" in leadership of the war,
      saying it had left the United States mired in Iraq
      with no clear way out.

      He said in the radio address that it would take at
      least a decade for the U.S. Army to recover from the
      war's degradation to military readiness.

      Sanchez also endorsed a provision in the House
      legislation that would have required all U.S.
      government employees -- such as CIA agents -- to abide
      by the U.S. Army's field manual on interrogations.

      The manual bans internationally condemned
      interrogation techniques such as "waterboarding," or
      simulated drowning, which the CIA is believed to have
      used on at least three terrorism suspects since the
      September 11, 2001, attacks on the United States.

      (Editing by David Alexander and Bill Trott)
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