Democrats add to pressure for Rumsfeld to be removed

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The Independent US

Pressure grew yesterday on the US Defence Secretary, Donald Rumsfeld, to resign despite a declaration of support from President George Bush, who insisted his "steady leadership" was still required.

With six former generals calling for Mr Rumsfeld's resignation, accusing him of arrogance and poor management over his handling of the war in Iraq, Democrats yesterday sought to add to the pressure.

"My view is that the Secretary should step aside," New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson told the CBS's Face The Nation television programme. "Besides the fact that the Iraq war has been mismanaged ... we should listen to what these generals are saying."

Those calling for Mr Rumsfeld to step aside include Major-General John Batiste, who commanded the 1st Infantry Division in Iraq, and Major-General Charles Swannack, who led the 82nd Airborne Division. The former Nato commander General Wesley Clark, who sought the Democratic nomination for the presidency in 2004, has also called for him to be replaced.

"These are six distinguished military officers," said Mr Richardson. "They basically are saying that Secretary Rumsfeld on issues relating to military strategy ... didn't listen to them. This reaches a new level ... of not being willing to admit mistakes, not being willing to change a course, policy that is just not working."

Both the Republican party and the Pentagon hit back. In a memo released to civilian military analysts, the Pentagon maintained he did listen to advice from his commanders. "US senior military leaders are involved to an unprecedented degree in every decision-making process," it said.

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