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Rumsfeld’s Resignation Decided Yesterday, Bush Tells Reporters

By John D. Banusiewicz
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Nov. 8, 2006 – The decision to change leadership at the Pentagon came yesterday, after President Bush had had a chance to meet with his prospective nominee for secretary of defense and to have the last in a series of conversations with outgoing Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, the president told reporters at the White House today.

Bush announced he intends to nominate Texas A&M University President Robert M. Gates, who ran the CIA from November 1991 to January 1993, to succeed Rumsfeld.

“I have been talking with Don Rumsfeld over a period of time about fresh perspective; he likes to call it fresh eyes,” Bush said. “He himself understands that Iraq is not working well enough fast enough, and he and I are constantly assessing. … As you know, we're constantly changing tactics, and that requires constant assessment. And so he and I both agreed in our meeting yesterday that it was appropriate that I accept his resignation.”

The president said that while Gates would bring a new perspective to the job, he found that he and his prospective nominee are like-minded when it comes to what needs to happen in Iraq. “He understands we're in a global war against these terrorists,” Bush said. “He understands that defeat is not an option in Iraq. And I believe it's important that there be a fresh perspective, and so does Secretary Rumsfeld.”

Bush acknowledged that the fight in Iraq has been tough and that progress hasn’t always been as quick or evident as he would have liked, but he reasserted his belief that abandoning the effort would make victory impossible. “I wish this had gone faster,” he said. “So does Secretary Rumsfeld. But the reality is that it's a tough fight, and we're going to win the fight. And I truly believe the only way we won't win is if we leave before the job is done.”

Bush did not provide a timeline on when Rumsfeld would leave office.

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