'Morning Joe' Skips Over Potential Democrat Senate Candidate's Ties to Abu Ghraib Scandal

Former Army Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez is expected to be a Democratic contender in the Texas 2012 Senate race. However, when Politico's Mike Allen brought news of his probable candidacy to MSNBC's "Morning Joe" Monday,  he omitted the fact that Sanchez commanded the U.S. ground forces in Iraq while the infamous abuses at the Abu Ghraib prison took place.

Sanchez, when he retired from the Army in November of 2006,  told a local paper that the Abu Ghraib scandal was "the sole reason" he was forced to retire. The scandal occurred in the summer and fall of 2003, and involved humiliations, beatings, and sexual abuse of prisoners at the hands of U.S. soldiers at Abu Ghraib prison near Baghdad. Sanchez was the commander of coalition forces in Iraq during that time.
 

The story of the abuses became public in the spring of 2004. Sanchez removed himself from overseeing the investigation into the abuses and was replaced as commander in Iraq in June, 2004.

Politico's chief White House correspondent Mike Allen, in announcing Sanchez's possible candidacy, simply reported that Sanchez was a retired general and "commanded U.S. troops in Iraq."

To be fair, according to the USA Today, the Army reported in 2005 that an inspector general's investigation "cleared Sanchez of accusations of dereliction of duty in his oversight of prison operations in Iraq."

Sanchez was never directly connected with the abuses. The AP stated at the time of his retirement that "Sanchez has not been accused of any misconduct but has been criticized by some for not doing more to avoid mistreatment of Iraqi prisoners." Sanchez still claims he did not know of the abuses at the time he was commander of forces in Iraq.

That said, in the fall of 2003, Sanchez allowed certain interrogation tactics to be used at the prison. The general personally had to approve the tactics for each instance of use.

The Washington Post's Phillip Carter wrote in 2008 that "rightly or wrongly, Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez will forever be connected to the Abu Ghraib abuse scandal."

Maybe so, but that won't stop biased outlets like MSNBC's "Morning Joe" from noting the matter as a potential and relevant issue in a campaign for public office.

A transcript of the segment, which aired on April 18 at 6:25 a.m. EDT, is as follows:

MIKA BRZEZINSKI: Politico has news, Mike, about a contender for Republican Senator Kay Bailey Hutchinson's seat there, who is running as a Democrat.

MIKE ALLEN, chief White House correspondent, Politico: Yeah Mika, this really surprised me. Retired Gen. Ricardo Sanchez, commanded U.S. troops in Iraq, lives in San Antonio, is going to be the Democrat, probably, to run for that seat. Democrats had had their eye on Texas. That was one of the six states that they hoped to switch over. They talked about a six-in-'12 flips next month – next year. But you need a candidate to do that, and there have been no new Democrats in Texas, tons of Republicans. But Gen. Sanchez is someone that could appeal to businessmen, could appeal to conservative Hispanics. Democrats are very, very excited about this one.

Matt Hadro
Matt Hadro
Matt Hadro was a News Analyst for the Media Research Center's News Analysis Division from 2010 through early 2014