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Gates Nominates Mullen to Replace Pace as Pentagon Leader

U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates annouced Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Peter Pace's retirement Friday, saying Navy Adm. Mike Mullen has been nominated to replace him. The NewsHour discusses the new leadership with two journalists specializing in the military.

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  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    The Pentagon reshuffle. We hear from two reporters who cover military affairs and the Pentagon, Josh White of the Washington Post, and Mark Thompson of Time magazine.

    Mark Thompson, to you first, what's going on?

  • MARK THOMPSON, Time Magazine:

    Well, Basically, Judy, the taint of the war has become pervasive. And over the past year, we've seen all the top war leaders in the military and the civilians at the Pentagon depart the scene. Basically, Secretary Gates said, "Listen, the trouble this guy would run into, General Pace, if we re-nominated him to be chairman on Capitol Hill, basically wouldn't be worth it." So basically they're cutting their losses and trying to start with a fresh slate.

  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    Josh White, it did sound as if Secretary Gates was trying to put the blame, if you will, or the onus of this decision on Capitol Hill, the senators who would have been voting, debating. Is that where the onus really lies?

  • JOSH WHITE, Washington Post:

    Well, at this point, what he said is, he went to Congress, he went to some senior leaders, especially with the Armed Services Committee, and asked how this would go. How would a confirmation hearing go forward with Chairman Pace having to answer some very difficult questions? And they warned him very frankly that it would not go well, that it would be ugly.

    It's the kind of issue that the Pentagon really doesn't want to have to deal with at this point, a dissection of the last several years of the war. They've been going through this over the last several months. I think it's a recognition that the past is something that Secretary Gates wants to put behind him, and he wants to move away from the Rumsfeld Pentagon, from the Rumsfeld war policies, and look forward to finding a solution.

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