Defense Analysts Debate Whether Secretary Rumsfeld Should Go
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RAY SUAREZ: Appearing on three Sunday morning news programs, the president’s top communications aide, Dan Bartlett, dismissed renewed calls for Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld’s resignation.
DAN BARTLETT, Top White House Communications Aide: We recognize that he has his critics. We recognize that he’s made some very difficult decisions. Some people don’t like his bedside manner. But what President Bush looks to in Secretary Rumsfeld is to bring him the type of information he needs to make the right decisions in this war.
RAY SUAREZ: The latest criticism comes following the release of Bob Woodward’s third book about the administration at war, called “State of Denial.” It depicts disagreements among the president’s top advisers about dealing with post-war Iraq and the man running the war, Donald Rumsfeld. The book also suggests top military commanders executing the war in Iraq were repeatedly frustrated with Rumsfeld’s leadership at the Pentagon.
The secretary, who was traveling over the weekend, said the president had in recent days reached him by phone to express his continued support.
TONY SNOW, White House Press Secretary: I think what the president simply wanted to do is, given all the press attention and everything that’s been going on, to say, “Don, I still have faith in you, and I support you.”
RAY SUAREZ: In the book, Woodward writes that former Chief of Staff Andrew Card tried to persuade Mr. Bush to fire Rumsfeld on two separate occasions. “Card outlined his problems with Rumsfeld and how he believed it was time for a change. He said, however, so far his advice on the Rumsfeld situation had been considered and rejected.”
Card hasn’t denied that he discussed replacing Rumsfeld with the president but said Woodward’s book takes the discussion out of context. Just last month, a group of retired generals called for Rumsfeld to step aside at a forum put together by Senate Democrats.
MAJ. GEN. JOHN BATISTE (Ret.), U.S. Army: Our nation’s treasure in blood and dollars continues to be squandered under Secretary Rumsfeld’s leadership. Losing one American life due to incompetent war-planning and preparation is absolutely unacceptable.
RAY SUAREZ: Rumsfeld has acknowledged he offered his resignation to the president twice, but Mr. Bush refused to accept it.