President Bush reacted to the deaths of four Blackwater contractors in Fallujah in 2004 by proclaiming in a hastily arranged video conference with officials that the United States would "kill" anyone who threatened to derail the "march to Democracy" in Iraq, according to a new book released last month by the former commander of US soldiers in Iraq.
In the book "Wiser in Battle: A Soldier's Story," Lt. Gen Ricardo Sanchez writes that after the bodies of the four Blackwater contractors were dragged through the streets of Fallujah in 2004 and hung off a bridge Bush became unhinged.
In a video conference with national security and military officials Sanchez writes that Bush said, "If somebody tries to stop the march to democracy, we will seek them out and kill them! We must be tougher than hell! This Vietnam stuff, this is not even close. It is a mind-set. We can't send that message. It's an excuse to prepare us for withdrawal."
"There is a series of moments and this is one of them. Our will is being tested, but we are resolute. We have a better way. Stay strong! Stay the course! Kill them! Be confident! Prevail! We are going to wipe them out! We are not blinking!"
Sanchez is highly critical of Bush's policies in his book, which he first laid out during a speech last September at a veterans summit sponsored Congressman Solomon Ortiz, a Corpus Christi Democrat.
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"My assessment is that we have a crisis in national political leadership," Sanchez said. "When will America recognize the danger we face? When will the corrosive partisanship of American politics end and allow for a bipartisan solution to arguably the most dangerous threat our nation has faced in over 60 years?"
Sanchez received a standing ovation following his remarks.
But Sanchez also played a role in the Abu Ghraib prison abuse scandal, which has come to symbolize the U.S. as a nation that authorized torture.
Sanchez has said he was simply acting on orders by Bush and former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld.
Specifically, Sanchez said an action memorandum, dated Feb. 7, 2002, and signed by President Bush, that stated that the Geneva Convention did not apply to members of al-Qaeda or the Taliban led him to institute a “dozen interrogation methods beyond” the Army’s standard practice under the convention, according to a 2004 report on the prisoner abuse at Abu Ghraib prepared by a panel headed by James Schlesinger.
Sanchez said he based his decision on “the President's Memorandum,” which he said had justified "additional, tougher measures" against detainees, the Schlesigner report said.
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