"Weapons of Mass Deception"


Rumsfeld hit by a Right hook

By Alec Russell in Washington
(Filed: 16/12/2004)

Donald Rumsfeld, the US defence secretary, faced a blistering attack from the Right yesterday as an influential neo-conservative figure accused him of "breathtaking arrogance" and called for him to resign.

William Kristol, the editor of the Weekly Standard, the house journal of the neo-conservative movement, said no wartime defence secretary had ever "so breezily dodged responsibility and so glibly passed the buck".

In particular he savaged Mr Rumsfeld's airy response last week to criticism from soldiers in Iraq over the lack of equipment and resources.

The assault fuelled speculation that the defence secretary may step down long before the end of President George W Bush's second term.

The White House resisted calls to sack Mr Rumsfeld over the Abu Ghraib prison abuse scandal last year, partly because of concern that to fire him would undermine Mr Bush's re-election campaign.

Mr Rumsfeld is keen for a chance to rehabilitate his reputation, and also to see through his planned overhaul of the Pentagon.

The thinking is that the White House is keen to keep him until after next month's Iraqi elections. Scott McClellan, the White House spokesman, said Mr Bush thought Mr Rumsfeld was doing a "great job" in a time of war and "we appreciate" his leadership.

Yesterday's assault on Mr Rumsfeld is linked in Washington to the ambitions of Senator John McCain, the maverick, hawkish Republican, who said this week he had lost confidence in the Pentagon chief. He is thought to be positioning himself as a putative opponent of Mr Bush in the event of a disaster in Iraq, and line himself up as a successor in 2008.
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Milton Frihetsson, 20:01


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