As we told you yesterday, General Ricardo Sanchez, the former top commander in Iraq, called Sunday night for a truth commission to investigate torture, and declared that the practice never produced actionable intelligence.
And last night, speaking to MSNBC’s Keith Olbermann, Sanchez repeated his call for the commission. He added that, in the aftermath of the effort, “we must have all options open, from commendation to prosecution,” so that we can “move forward and regain the moral high ground that we have lost.”But he also made what appeared to be a more startling claim, at least considering its source. Sanchez said that he was speaking out in order to “ensure that the future leaders of America clearly understand the failures that occurred, so that our soldiers are never abandoned on the battlefield again like mine were.”
Was Sanchez saying that the soldiers tried for abuses at Abu Ghraib were “abandoned” by civilian leaders like President Bush and Donald Rumsfeld, who blamed the scandal on “a few bad apples,” while denying what we now know — that the roots of the abuse lay in policies approved at high levels of the administration? If so, that would be a pretty explosive allegation coming from the top commander of our Iraq forces at the time.
Olbermann didn’t follow up, so Sanchez’s implication isn’t totally clear. But we’re hoping to ask him ourselves today, so we’ll keep you posted.