From Abu Ghraib to the darling of progressives?
posted at 2:00 pm on April 17, 2011 by Ed Morrissey
I swear, sometimes it is difficult to keep up with progressives and Democrats. First they demand an exit from Iraq, and then the most progressive administration in decades starts signaling that they want to stay in Iraq longer than George Bush did. Speaking of Bush, remember when the Left screamed about the “imperial Presidency” because Bush went to war in Iraq without sufficient consultation with Congress? Their champion in 2008, Barack Obama, took us to war in Libya without any consultation with Congress in 2011. Not only that, but the White House openly scoffed at the idea that Congressional approval was necessary at all.
And remember Abu Ghraib, the scandal that the Left used to demand the resignation of Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and to paint the entire Bush administration as torturers? You know, the one where the ACLU found memos from the commanding general that authorized the use of dogs in interrogations of prisoners held there, which the Left went bonkers over? Guess who the Democrats have apparently picked to run for the open US Senate seat in Texas:
Democrats appear to have recruited retired Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez to run for the U.S. Senate in Texas, setting the stage for a potentially competitive race in 2012 for the seat of retiring Republican Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison.
Former Texas Lt. Gov. Ben Barnes confirmed that Washington Sen. Patty Murray, the head of the Democratic Senate campaign committee, was referring to Sanchez Thursday when she said that Democrats were very close to announcing a candidate in Texas.
Sanchez, reached by phone at his San Antonio home, said, “I can neither confirm nor deny.”
Let’s try to make some sense of this selection. Are Democrats now saying that Rumsfeld as SecDef had responsibility for Abu Ghraib while the military commander actually in charge of the theater that reported to Rumsfeld did not? Or are they withdrawing their accusations entirely? This isn’t just a case of allowing Sanchez to retire in honorable peace after a slew of vicious allegations about the integrity of everyone in that chain of command; they’re now endorsing him for further public service.
That should at least require some sort of reconciliation of their positions from the Bush era to now, and not just on Abu Ghraib, but also on Guantanamo — as Sanchez’ memo outlines practices beyond anything used at Gitmo. Pass the popcorn, because this should be good.
Update: Pass the popcorn to RedState, too:
Senator Patty Murray, who steers the Democrats’ Senate campaign arm and vaguely teased reporters earlier this week of a top Texas recruit, said in 2004 that all those responsible for Abu Ghraib — no matter where they fell in the chain of command — must be held to account for their actions.
“These actions are a disservice to the thousands of American soldiers in the region who serve us honorably each and every day, and, sadly, are likely to make their efforts to calm a troubled region even harder,” Murray said of the controversy.
When former President George Bush tapped then-White House Counsel Alberto Gonzales to fill the nation’s top law enforcement post, Murray joined Senator Maria Cantwell in opposing the nomination over his green-lighting of Sanchez’s interrogation techniques.
In a 2004 statement, Senator Patrick Leahy accused Sanchez of authorizing “the use of techniques that were contrary to both U.S. military manuals but also international law.” “Given this incredible overstepping of bounds, I find it incredible that the reports generated thus far have not recommended punishment of any kind for high-level officials,” he added.
And to Jim Geraghty:
But sooner or later, Sanchez will have to take stands on the usual domestic, economic, and social issues in what remains a very conservative state, where Democrats haven’t won a statewide race in seventeen years. So Sanchez will either become something akin to Zell Miller, a Democrat who is apostate on so many issues that his own party’s grassroots outside the state can’t stand him (and conservatives make him their favorite member of the opposition), or he’ll have to try to sell liberalism in Texas — in a year when the top of the ticket is Barack Obama, no less. …
Sanchez did call for a “Truth Commission” to investigate interrogation tactics under the Bush administration, a stance that may not play well in the Lone Star State[.]
However, Sanchez probably will have a tougher time getting donations and support from the liberal grassroots – and it’s not unthinkable that some progressive Democrat might jump in, lest the party’s face in Texas be the man they hold responsible in part for a terrible national scandal. At Daily Kos, Sanchez is described as “complicit in one of the worst abuses in recent US military history, and worse, was part of an effort to sweep it under the carpet.” Also, ThinkProgress accuses him of lying to Congress; they write, “Sanchez himself wrote and signed a 2003 memo that included specific interrogation tactics approved for use despite noting that they may violate the Geneva Conventions. In testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee, Sanchez denied signing off on these interrogation methods.”
Maybe Democrats realize that winning a Senate race in Texas with Barack Obama on the ticket would be akin to attempting to get Texans to forget the Alamo, and they’d rather not run a realistic candidate in that slot who might succeed better in an off year.