Cheney in charge

A retired general turns down the White House "war czar" job because he figures the vice president's views still prevail.

Published April 11, 2007 3:04PM (EDT)

The Washington Post says that the White House is looking for a "war czar" to oversee the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. The catch? Dick Cheney already has the job, and he's not letting go.

That's how retired Marine Gen. Jack Sheehan sees it, anyway. Sheehan says the White House offered him the "war czar" job recently but that he turned it down because he thinks Cheney and his people still have the most pull within the administration. "There's the residue of the Cheney view -- 'We're going to win, al-Qaida's there' -- that justifies anything we did," Sheehan said. "And then there's the pragmatist view -- how the hell do we get out of Dodge and survive? Unfortunately, the people with the former view are still in the positions of most influence."

The even more "fundamental issue"? Sheehan said that administration officials "don't know where the hell they're going." And that, he said, made it easy for him to say that he wouldn't be going back to work for the government. "Rather than go over there, develop an ulcer and eventually leave, I said, 'No, thanks.'"

The Post says two other retired generals, Army Gen. Jack Keane and Air Force Gen. Joseph Ralston, have also turned away inquiries about the job.

By Tim Grieve

Tim Grieve is a senior writer and the author of Salon's War Room blog.

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