Rumsfeld’s Critics Increasingly Coming from Republican PartyBy Douglas Jehl and David Firestone
The New York Times -- WASHINGTON
Last Friday, the Republican chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee and his top Democratic colleague sent a private letter to Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld that questioned the propriety of comments made by a top Pentagon general, William G. Boykin.
Rumsfeld not only did not respond, but on Tuesday, after the chairman, Sen. John Warner, R-Va., made the letter public, the defense secretary said he knew nothing about it. “It may be somewhere around the building,” Rumsfeld told reporters on Capitol Hill, “but I am not aware of it.”
The episode was described this week by senior Republican congressional officials as emblematic of what some have publicly described as the high-handedness and lack of respect shown by Rumsfeld, whose steps and missteps over the past month have drawn increasing Republican ire.
On issues varying from Boykin -- who has likened the war against Islamic militants to a battle against Satan -- to Rumsfeld’s own views about the war on terrorism, and the gap between Rumsfeld’s glossy public assessments and the more roughly hewn private views that leaked out this week, senior Republicans have joined Democrats in publicly complaining that the Pentagon has left them in the dark and exposed on critical and sensitive political issues.
Warner, a former Secretary of the Navy who as chairman of the Armed Services Committee is the Pentagon’s most powerful congressional overseer, would not comment for this article. But he was described by other senators and senior Republican staff members as being particularly angry. One senior Republican congressional official, who would not speak for the record, said he had concluded that Rumsfeld’s approach was doing harm to the White House and that he had become “a millstone around the president’s neck.”