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Rumsfeld quits; Bush taps Gates for post

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  • Greg Cannon
    http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20061108/ap_on_go_ca_st_pe/rumsfeld_resigns Rumsfeld quits; Bush taps Gates for post By ROBERT BURNS and KATHERINE SHRADER,
    Message 1 of 1 , Nov 8, 2006
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      Rumsfeld quits; Bush taps Gates for post

      Press Writers 1 hour, 3 minutes ago

      WASHINGTON - After years of defending his secretary of
      defense, President Bush on Wednesday announced Donald
      H. Rumsfeld's resignation within hours of the
      Democrats' triumph in congressional elections. Bush
      reached back to his father's administration to tap a
      former CIA director to run the Pentagon.

      The Iraq war was the central issue of Rumsfeld's
      nearly six-year tenure, and unhappiness with the war
      was a major element of voter dissatisfaction Tuesday —
      and the main impetus for his departure. Even some GOP
      lawmakers became critical of the war's management, and
      growing numbers of politicians were urging Bush to
      replace Rumsfeld.

      Bush said Robert Gates, 63, who has served in a
      variety of national security jobs under six previous
      presidents, would be nominated to replace Rumsfeld.
      Gates, currently the president of Texas A&M
      University, is a Bush family friend and a member of an
      independent group studying the way ahead in Iraq.

      The White House hopes that replacing Rumsfeld with
      Gates can help refresh U.S. policy on the deeply
      unpopular war and perhaps establish a stronger rapport
      with the new Congress. Rumsfeld had a rocky
      relationship with many lawmakers.

      "Secretary Rumsfeld and I agreed that sometimes it's
      necessary to have a fresh perspective," Bush said in
      the abrupt announcement during a postelection news

      In a later appearance at the White House with Rumsfeld
      and Gates at his side, Bush praised both men, thanked
      Rumsfeld for his service and predicted that Gates
      would bring fresh ideas.

      "The secretary of defense must be a man of vision who
      can see threats still over the horizon and prepare our
      nation to meet them. Bob Gates is the right man to
      meet both of these critical challenges," Bush said.

      But underscoring that he would not bow to those
      pushing for a quick U.S. withdrawal, Bush also said,
      "I'd like our troops to come home, too, but I want
      them to come home with victory."

      In brief remarks, Rumsfeld described the Iraq conflict
      as a "little understood, unfamiliar war" that is
      "complex for people to comprehend." Upon his return to
      the Pentagon after appearing with Bush and Gates,
      Rumsfeld said it was a good time for him to leave.

      "It will be a different Congress, a different
      environment, moving toward a presidential election and
      a lot of partisanship, and it struck me that this
      would be a good thing for everybody," Rumsfeld told

      There was little outward reaction among officials at
      the Pentagon, beyond surprise at the abrupt

      Asked whether Rumsfeld's departure signaled a new
      direction in a war that has claimed the lives of more
      than 2,800 U.S. troops and cost more than $300
      billion, Bush said, "Well, there's certainly going to
      be new leadership at the Pentagon."

      Voters appeared to be telling politicians that the
      sooner the war ends the better. Surveys at polling
      places showed that about six in 10 voters disapproved
      of the war and only a third believed it had improved
      long-term security in the United States.

      Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman said Rumsfeld was not
      leaving immediately. Rumsfeld planned to deliver a
      speech on the global war on terrorism at Kansas State
      University on Thursday.

      Just last week Bush told reporters that he expected
      Rumsfeld, 74, to remain until the end of the
      administration's term. And although Bush said
      Wednesday that his decision to replace Rumsfeld was
      not based on politics, the announcement of a Pentagon
      shake-up came on the heels of Tuesday's voting.

      With his often-combative defense of the war in Iraq,
      Rumsfeld had been the administration's face of the
      conflict. He became more of a target — and more
      politically vulnerable — as the war grew increasingly
      unpopular at home amid rising violence and with no end
      in sight.

      Gates ran the CIA under the first President Bush
      during the first Gulf war. He retired from government
      in 1993.

      He joined the CIA in 1966 and is the only agency
      employee to rise from an entry level job to become
      director. A native of Kansas, he made a name for
      himself as an analyst specializing in the former
      Soviet Union and he served in the intelligence
      community for more than a quarter century, under six

      Numerous Democrats in Congress had been calling for
      Rumsfeld's resignation for many months, asserting that
      his management of the war and of the military had been
      a resounding failure. Critics also accused Rumsfeld of
      not fully considering the advice of his generals and
      of refusing to consider alternative courses of action.

      Sen. Carl Levin (news, bio, voting record) of Michigan
      and Rep. Ike Skelton (news, bio, voting record) of
      Missouri — the top Democrats on the Armed Services
      committees — said the resignation would be a positive
      step only if accompanied by a change in policy.

      "I think it is critical that this change be more than
      just a different face on the old policy," Skelton

      Rumsfeld, 74, has served in the job longer than anyone
      except Robert McNamara, who became secretary of
      defense during the Kennedy administration and remained
      until 1968. Rumsfeld is the only person to have served
      in the job twice; his previous tour was during the
      Ford administration.

      Rumsfeld had twice previously offered his resignation
      to Bush — once during the Abu Ghraib prisoner abuse
      scandal in spring 2004 and again shortly after that.
      Both times the president refused to let him leave.

      Gates took over the CIA as acting director in 1987,
      when William Casey was terminally ill with cancer.
      Questions were raised about Gates' knowledge of the
      Iran-Contra affair, and he withdrew from consideration
      to take over the CIA permanently. Yet he stayed on as
      deputy director.

      Then-National Security Adviser Brent Scowcroft, who
      has been a critic of the younger Bush's policies,
      asked Gates to be his deputy in 1989 during the
      administration of Bush's father. The elder President
      Bush, a former CIA director himself, asked Gates to
      run the CIA two years later.

      Gates won confirmation, but only after hearings in
      which he was accused by CIA officials of manipulating
      intelligence as a senior analyst in the 1980s.

      Melvin Goodman, a former CIA division chief for Soviet
      affairs, testified that Gates politicized the
      intelligence on Iran, Nicaragua, Afghanistan and the
      Soviet Union. "Gates' role in this activity was to
      corrupt the process and the ethics of intelligence on
      all of these issues," Goodman testified.

      The Bush administration's use of intelligence on Iraq
      has been a central theme of criticism from Democrats
      who say the White House stretched faulty intelligence
      from U.S. spy agencies to justify invading Iraq in

      Gates has taken a much lower profile since leaving
      government. He joined corporate boards and wrote a
      memoir, "From The Shadows: The Ultimate Insider's
      Story of Five Presidents and How They Won the Cold
      War." It was published in 1996.

      Gates is a close friend of the Bush family, and
      particularly the first President Bush. He became the
      president of Texas A&M University in August 2002. The
      university is home to the presidential library of the
      elder Bush.
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