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Democrats Push Bush To Sack US Defense Chief Rumsfeld

A very unhappy Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld. Photo courtesy of AFP.
by Staff Writers
Washington (AFP) Sep 04, 2006
US Democrats on Monday stepped up pressure on President George W. Bush to sack Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld ahead of legislative elections in November. With Congress returning this week from a month-long holiday, the effort was spearheaded by US Senator Barbara Boxer, who announced plans to offer an amendment to a defense spending bill calling on the president to immediately appoint a new secretary of defense.

Her move comes as opposition Democrats expressed outrage over comments last week by Rumsfeld which compared critics of US Iraq policy to Nazi appeasers, saying they fail to understand the fascist nature of Islamic terrorism.

In a largely symbolic move unlikely to garner support from Bush's Republican allies in Congress, Boxer's resolution slams the defense chief's remarks as a national affront, and the final straw in his controversial tenure at the helm of the Pentagon.

"These slanderous comments apply directly to the American people," the text of her legislation reads.

Meanwhile, Democrats in Congress in a letter Monday to Bush called for a complete overhaul of US Iraq policy, including "changing the civilian leadership at the Defense Department."

"We do not believe the current civilian leadership at the Department of Defense is suited to implement and oversee such a change in policy," read the letter signed by top House and Senate Democrats.

"Unfortunately, your stay the course strategy is not working," the Democrats' letter continued.

"With daily attacks against American and Iraqi troops at close to their highest levels since the start of the war, and sectarian violence intensifying, we can only conclude that our troops are caught in the middle of a low-grade civil war that is getting worse," read the letter signed by Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and other top Democrats.

They also called for transitioning the US mission in Iraq to counter-terrorism and force protection, and beginning the phased redeployment of US forces from Iraq before the end of 2006, among other measures.

Boxer's draft Senate resolution also accuses Rumsfeld of failing to adequately plan for post-war operations in Iraq, leading to widespread violence, a rise of sectarian militias, and the rapid growth of Iraq's raging insurgency.

"The Senate calls on the president to appoint a new secretary with the vision and leadership qualities necessary to lead the Department of Defense," the draft text read.

Boxer's bill also condemns Rumsfeld for failing to give "the brave men and women serving in the armed forces of the United States the protections and respect they deserve," and for mismanaging the "extremely costly" US operations in Iraq.

"As of August 31, 2006, 2,635 troops have lost their lives in Iraq and 19,773 have been wounded. On September 30, 2006, the total cost of the Iraq war will reach 318.5 billion dollars," according to Boxer's draft bill.

Bush has stuck by Rumsfeld despite repeated calls by lawmakers and recently retired senior US military officers for the defense secretary to step down.

Several US Democrats this week voiced support for the bill.

"I think he should resign. He's fundamentally incompetent," Democratic National Committee chairman Howard Dean told CBS television's "Face the Nation" program Sunday.

Meanwhile, a leading Senate Democrat, Joseph Biden, called Rumsfeld an "impediment" in the war effort.

"He is not someone who is offering answers, and the rest of the world looks at what he has to say and continues to lose confidence in our ability," Biden said.

But top Republicans remained firm in their support of the controversial defense chief. "I think Secretary Rumsfeld has done an excellent job," Senator Mitch McConnell told US television Sunday.

"He'll be remembered as one of the great secretaries of defense."

Source: Agence France-Presse

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August In Iraq Makes For More Dog Days
Washington DC (UPI) Sept 1, 2006
U.S. forces in Iraq continued to suffer the same old levels of low but grinding attrition through the dog days of August. The total number of U.S. troops killed in Iraq through Thursday, Aug. 31, since the start of operations to topple Saddam Hussein on March 19, 2003, was 2,635, according to official figures issued by the U.S. Department of Defense.

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