Speaking to a handful of coffee drinkers in Colorado Springs this week, Retired Lt. Gen. Claudia Kennedy blasted the Bush administration for "arrogant and disrespectful" policies that have damaged U.S. credibility abroad.
"I know a crisis when I see one," Kennedy, the first woman to be named a three-star Army general, told patrons at Pike's Perk downtown. "We are not being led faithfully by the president."
The state Republican Party was quick to dismiss Kennedy's remarks, which she made campaigning for Democratic presidential hopeful John F. Kerry.
"The Kerry campaign has continually trotted out these former military officers," said Bill Ray, a spokesman for the state GOP. "There's no focus on what Kerry has done. He voted to go to war in Iraq."
A former intelligence advisor to President Clinton, Kennedy said campaign rhetoric against Kerry has glossed over his evolving position, one of initial support for the president, but then disappointment with the way he has conducted the war.
Bush policies have cost the United States important allies during a war in which promises of locating weapons of mass destruction have vaporized and hundreds of troops return home in caskets, Kennedy said.
Human rights violations by U.S. troops in the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq hurt the nation's reputation, she said, adding America "owes the world" an ethical military. She noted Bush's "secretive and closed style" has squelched divergent views while controlling the flow of facts, including preventing the release of medical records and videotape that could reveal more horrors in the Iraqi prison.
-- Michael de Yoanna