Thursday, November 09, 2006

Rumsfeld resigns after Democrats win House; nominee Gates has CIA and Rice connections

"President Bush emerged from an election in which his party took what he described as a 'thumping' and ousted Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld yesterday, saying that a 'fresh perspective' is needed to guide the military through the difficult war in Iraq.
Speaking at a White House news conference the day after Democrats took control of the House of Representatives, and possibly the Senate, an apparently chastened and conciliatory Bush said he was nominating former CIA director Robert M. Gates to replace the long-embattled Rumsfeld." [1] *

"According to General Franks, Mr. Rumsfeld was the impetus behind one of the most contentious decisions of the war: canceling the deployment of the First Cavalry Division, which was to reinforce the initial invasion force. That left the American military with fewer troops as the insurgency was beginning to develop.
It was also Mr. Rumsfeld who insisted that the Pentagon take the lead in overseeing postwar planning and the administration of Iraq in the first critical months of the occupation after the ouster of Saddam Hussein from power." [2]

"But Bush turned to him [Rumsfeld] at Cheney's suggestion, made in part as a way of providing a counterweight to Colin L. Powell, who had already been chosen as secretary of state. Conservatives were nervous about the power that the moderate, multilateralist Powell, a former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, might wield over defense as well as foreign policy.
. . . Although Rumsfeld was considered less an ideologue than an unyielding iconoclast, he brought with him to the Pentagon's executive suites and advisory councils a collection of neoconservatives with strong views on the Middle East, Russia, China and other foreign policy issues. They clashed at nearly every turn with officials of Powell's State Department, setting up an internal conflict that would run through Bush's entire first term." [3]

"A longtime Soviet analyst who spent two decades at the Central Intelligence Agency, Mr. Gates served as deputy to Brent Scowcroft, the national security adviser, during the administration of George H. W. Bush. There, he worked closely with Mr. Baker and Condoleezza Rice. Gen. Michael V. Hayden, now the C.I.A. director, also served on the staff of the National Security Council at the time. **
Mr. Gates was confirmed in 1991 as director of central intelligence after a bruising confirmation fight in which subordinates alleged that he had politicized reporting on the Soviet Union.
. . . Since March, as a member of Mr. Baker’s Iraq Study Group, Mr. Gates has been pondering the central defense policy quandary facing the administration.
. . . First picked by President Reagan in 1987 to succeed Mr. Casey [CIA director William Casey], Mr. Gates withdrew in the face of senators’ concern that he had not been candid about his knowledge of the Iran-contra affair. " [4]

"Gates began his career in Air Force intelligence and then worked as a CIA analyst. While climbing the ranks at the CIA, he took detours to serve on the National Security Council for Presidents Carter, Reagan and the elder Bush." [5]

* Soon-to-be House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has said that "Democrats want to move us in a new direction – ensuring that 2006 is a year of significant transition with Iraqis assuming responsibility for their country and with the responsible redeployment of U.S. forces" [6] and "I hope the departure of Mr. Rumsfeld will mark a fresh start toward a new policy in Iraq, signaling a willingness on the part of the President to work with the Congress to devise a better way forward." [7]
** "When Gen. Michael Hayden became CIA director six months ago, his mission was to calm a troubled agency, get it out of the headlines and restore its professionalism.
. . . Hayden is now firmly ensconced at the CIA, and he's putting a military man's imprint on the place. He still wears his blue Air Force uniform to work." [8] So if Gates is confirmed as the new Defense Secretary, then the former director of the CIA will now be heading the Defense Department while a current Air Force General is heading the CIA. And Gates also worked in Air Force intelligence.

[1] The Washington Post. Bush Ousts Embattled Rumsfeld; Democrats Near Control of Senate. November 9, 2006.
[2] The New York Times. Rumsfeld, a Force for Change, Did Not Change With the Times Amid Iraq Tumult. November 9, 2006.
[3] The Washington Post. A Meek Departure From the War Cabinet. Rumsfeld Ends His Stormy Tenure at Defense Dept. November 9, 2006.
[4] The New York Times. Robert Gates, a Cautious Player From a Past Bush Team. November 9, 2006.
[5] The Washington Post. Associated Press. Gates' Views Have Differed From Bush. November 10, 2006.
[6] Nancy Pelosi: House Democratic Leader. On the Issues: Iraq. (No date).
[7] Nancy Pelosi: House Democratic Leader. Pelosi: ‘I Hope the Departure of Mr. Rumsfeld Will Mark A Fresh Start Toward a New Policy in Iraq.’ November 08, 2006.
[8] The Washington Post. For Hayden, Repair Work At the CIA. November 8, 2006.

related posting
Why wasn't Condoleezza Rice at the recent White House meeting on Iraq? October 23, 2006.

posted: thursday, november 9, 2006, 3:00 PM ET
update: saturday, november 11, 2006, 3:23 AM ET


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