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Rumsfeld Pays Price For Voter Anger Over Iraq

Former CIA Director Robert Gates attends a press conference at the Oval Office of the White House 08 November 2006 in Washington, DC. Photo courtesy of Tim Sloan and AFP.
by Staff Writers
Washington (AFP) Nov 08, 2006
US President George W. Bush announced the resignation Wednesday of Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld following an election defeat of his Republican Party blamed largely on the disastrous US war in Iraq.

"After a series of thoughtful conversations, Secretary Rumsfeld and I agreed that the timing is right for new leadership at the Pentagon," Bush told a White House press conference after the opposition Democrats won control of the House of Representatives for the first time since 1994.

Bush said he was nominating Robert Gates, a former director of the Central Intelligence Agency and current president of Texas A and M University, to replace Rumsfeld.

Democratic leaders have been pressing for Rumsfeld's resignation for months, holding the aggressive politician responsible for the violence still wracking the nation three and a half years after US troops toppled Saddam Hussein.

Bush acknowledged that the problems in Iraq had played a major role in Tuesday's Democratic election victories.

"I recognize that many Americans voted last night to register their displeasure with the lack of progress being made there," he said.

But he denied Rumsfeld's departure was a result of the election defeat, saying the change at the Pentagon had been in the cards prior to Tuesday.

"Win or lose, Bob Gates was going to become the nominee," he said, adding that he had discussed the job with Gates on Sunday and then confirmed Rumsfeld's departure with the secretary of defense on Tuesday.

"Don Rumsfeld's a patriot who served our country with honor and distinction," Bush said. "He is a trusted adviser and friend, and I'm deeply thankful for his service to our country."

He added, however, that Rumsfeld "also appreciates the value of bringing in a fresh perspective during a political period in this war."

"I am making a change at the secretary of defense to bring a fresh perspective as to how to achieve something I think most Americans want, which is a victory" in Iraq, Bush said.

Gates headed the Central Intelligence Agency from 1991 to 1993 and is currently president of Texas A and M University.

He has also been working on the bipartisan Iraq Study Group, which is due to present Bush with policy recommendations on the Iraq crisis in the coming weeks.

The recommendations of the panel, headed by former secretary of state James Baker and former congressman Lee Hamilton, are expected to provide a framework for a policy overhaul concerning Iraq and other Middle East problems.

Bush called Gates "a steady, solid leader who can help make the necessary adjustments in our approach to meet our current challenges".

"If confirmed by the Senate, Bob will bring more than 25 years of national security experience and a stellar reputation as an effective leader with sound judgment," he said.

"He served six presidents from both political parties and rose from an entry-level employee in the CIA to become the director of central intelligence," he said.

Source: Agence France-Presse

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US Losses Rise Again In Iraq
Washington DC (UPI) Nov 07, 2006
Insurgents and militias in Iraq are continuing to inflict significantly higher rates of casualties per day on U.S. forces. The total number of U.S. troops killed in Iraq through Nov. 6 since the start of operations to topple Saddam Hussein on March 19, 2003, was 2,832, according to official figures issued by the U.S. Department of Defense.

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