George W. Bush has expressed full support for his Secretary of State for Defence amid growing calls from retired military commanders for Donald Rumsfeld to resign. In a television interview, the US Defence Secretary answered his critics.
“I intend to serve the president at his pleasure,” Rumsfeld said on Al Arabiya TV. “Obviously if, out of thousands and thousands of admirals and generals, if every time two or three people disagreed we changed the Secretary of Defence of the United States, it would be like a merry-go-round.” Six retired generals have spoken out. One of them, John Batiste, called for “fresh blood” in the Pentagon, saying new civilian leadership was needed which “understands teamwork and does not lead with intimidation.” The US president praised what he called Donald Rumsfeld’s “energetic and steady leadership.” But the retired generals, some of whom led troops in Iraq, accuse the Defence Secretary of arrogance and ignoring his field commanders. Amid calls for him to step down, Donald Rumsfeld faces fresh controversy – with claims featured in an online magazine that he was closely involved in the harsh treatment of a detainee at Guantanamo Bay.