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White House Seeks "Czar" To Oversee Wars

Reuters | April 11, 2007

The White House wants to appoint a high-profile overseer to manage the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan but has had trouble finding someone to take the job, The Washington Post reported on Wednesday.

At least three retired four-star generals approached by the White House in recent weeks have turned down the position, the report said.

The war "czar" would report directly to U.S. President George W. Bush and national security adviser Stephen Hadley and would have authority to issue directions to the Pentagon and the State Department, the newspaper said.

Retired Marine Gen. John "Jack" Sheehan, a former top NATO commander, was among those who rejected the job, the newspaper reported.

"The very fundamental issue is, they don't know where the hell they're going," Sheehan told the Post.

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Sheehan said he believes that Vice President Dick Cheney and his hawkish allies remain more powerful within the administration than pragmatists looking for a way out of Iraq, the Post reported.

"So rather than go over there, develop an ulcer and eventually leave, I said, 'No, thanks,' " Sheehan told the paper.

Retired Army Gen. Jack Keane and retired Air Force Gen. Joseph Ralston were also approached and said they were not interested in the position, the newspaper said, citing sources.

Ralston declined to comment while Keane confirmed he turned down the job, the Post said.

The White House has not publicly disclosed its interest in creating the position, hoping to find someone to fill the post before the job is announced.

Officials said they were still considering options to reorganize the White House's management of the two wars, the Post said.

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