Democrats appear to have recruited retired Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez to run for the U.S. Senate in Texas, setting the stage for the party to field a well-known candidate in the 2012 race to replace retiring Republican Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison.
Former Texas Lt. Gov. Ben Barnes, a Democrat, confirmed that Democratic Senate campaign chief Patty Murray, D-Wash., was referring to Sanchez on Thursday when she said Democrats were close to announcing a candidate in Texas.
Sanchez, reached by phone at his San Antonio home, asked where the reports of a Senate run came from and then said, "I can neither confirm nor deny."
Sanchez, the former top military commander in Iraq who was left under a cloud from the Abu Ghraib prison scandal, would not discuss the Senate race. But he did respond to questions about his career and political philosophy.
"I would describe myself as during my military career as supporting the president and the Constitution," Sanchez said. "After the military, I decided that socially, I'm a progressive, a fiscal conservative and a strong supporter, obviously, of national defense."
I'm out on people who authorized torture at Abu Ghraib.
Sanchez was commander of coalition forces during a period when abuse of prisoners occurred at Abu Ghraib and at other locations. In a memo signed by General Sanchez and later acquired by the ACLU through a Freedom of Information Act request, techniques were authorized to interrogate prisoners, included "environmental manipulation" such as making a room hot or cold or using an "unpleasant smell", isolating a prisoner, disrupting normal sleep patterns and "convincing the detainee that individuals from a country other than the United States are interrogating him."  On May 5, 2006 Sanchez denied ever authorizing interrogators to "go to the outer limits". Sanchez said he had told interrogators: "...we should be conducting our interrogations to the limits of our authority." Sanchez called the ACLU: "...a bunch of sensationalist liars, I mean lawyers, that will distort any and all information that they get to draw attention to their positions." 
The Washington Post, 6/12/2004:
Lt. Gen. Ricardo S. Sanchez, the senior U.S. military officer in Iraq, borrowed heavily from a list of high-pressure interrogation tactics used at the U.S. detention center in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and approved letting senior officials at a Baghdad jail use military dogs, temperature extremes, reversed sleep patterns, sensory deprivation, and diets of bread and water on detainees whenever they wished, according to newly obtained documents.
The U.S. policy, details of which have not been previously disclosed, was approved in early September, shortly after an Army general sent from Washington completed his inspection of the Abu Ghraib jail and then returned to brief Pentagon officials on his ideas for using military police there to help implement the new high-pressure methods.
The documents obtained by The Washington Post spell out in greater detail than previously known the interrogation tactics Sanchez authorized, and make clear for the first time that, before last October, they could be imposed without first seeking the approval of anyone outside the prison. That gave officers at Abu Ghraib wide latitude in handling detainees.
Unnamed officials at the Florida headquarters of the U.S. Central Command, which has overall military responsibility for Iraq, objected to some of the 32 interrogation tactics approved by Sanchez in September, including the more severe methods that he had said could be used at any time in Abu Ghraib with the consent of the interrogation officer in charge.
As a result, Sanchez decided on Oct. 12 to remove several items on the list and to require that prison officials obtain his direct approval for the remaining high-pressure methods. Among the tactics apparently dropped were those that would take away prisoners' religious items; control their exposure to light; inflict "pride and ego down," which means attacking detainees' sense of pride or worth; and allow interrogators to pretend falsely to be from a country that deals severely with detainees, according to the documents.
The high-pressure options that remained included taking someone to a less hospitable location for interrogation; manipulating his or her diet; imposing isolation for more than 30 days; using military dogs to provoke fear; and requiring someone to maintain a "stress position" for as long as 45 minutes. These were not dropped by Sanchez until a scandal erupted in May over photographs depicting abuse at the prison.
I'm out on generals in general. I'm particularly out on generals who implicitly or otherwise approved of torture. I'm out on conservative Democrats -- especially those who describe themselves as 'fiscal conservatives', because it's nothing but a dog whistle to the TeaBaggers -- and I'm out on anybody Ben Barnes happens to like. (Barnes, in a political legacy prior to becoming one of Washington's wealthiest lobbyists, gave us both the Sharpstown scandal and Dubya's appointment to the Texas Air National Guard.)
Having said that, Sanchez will probably be the party's nominee for all of the reasons to which I object. Sanchez is precisely the kind of candidate Texas Democrats love to nominate, and why they can't win a statewide election: because they continue to think Texans will vote for Republican Lite (the very definition of insanity in action). That, and a continuing strategy to chase a demographic that so far still cannot drag itself to the polls on Election Day in sufficient numbers to make a difference in the sad politics of the Great State.
"He's got a very compelling story," Barnes said. "He's the one guy who could unite the Hispanic vote. He'll get the conservative Hispanic businessman."
Yeah, all twenty-five of them in the entire state. Just like Tony Sanchez, Rick Noriega, Linda Chavez-Thompson, Hector Uribe ...
But hey, McBlogger likes him. And he hates everybody. Update: So does jobsanger. Paul Burka thinks any Democrat is a lost cause, but that's just his inner Republican talking.