SANCHEZ SPEAKS….The stakes keep getting higher: Friday brought the harshest criticism we’ve heard yet of the Iraq war from a retired military commander:

In a sweeping indictment of the four-year effort in Iraq, the former top commander of American forces there called the Bush administration’s handling of the war “incompetent” and said the result was “a nightmare with no end in sight.”

Lt. Gen. Ricardo S. Sanchez, who retired in 2006 after being replaced in Iraq after the Abu Ghraib prisoner abuse scandal, blamed the Bush administration for a “catastrophically flawed, unrealistically optimistic war plan” and denounced the current addition of American forces as a “desperate” move that would not achieve long-term stability.

….”There has been a glaring and unfortunate display of incompetent strategic leadership within our national leaders,” he said, adding that civilian officials have been “derelict in their duties” and guilty of a “lust for power.”

Between the New York Times account and the Washington Post account, it seems that Sanchez attacked (a) the Bush administration, (b) the Pentagon, (c) Congress, (d) the National Security Council, (e) the “inter-agency process,” (f) the State Department, and (g) the media. I don’t doubt they all deserve it, but at the same time that’s a suspiciously sweeping indictment for a senior guy who says he realized the war was FUBAR the day he took command in 2003 but didn’t speak out about it until now.

In any case, Sanchez promised “more to follow later” and said he would make further public statements in which he names names. Pass the popcorn.