Melanie Hunter | Senior Editor | Wednesday, November 08, 2006
"After a series of thoughtful conversations," Bush said, he and Rumsfeld agreed that "the timing is right for new leadership at the Pentagon." Calling Rumsfeld a "superb leader during a time of change," Bush said the outgoing secretary "appreciates the value of bringing in a fresh perspective during a critical period in this war."
And Gates will give the Defense Department that "fresh perspective," Bush said. Gates joined the CIA in 1966 and served under six presidents, including former President George H.W. Bush from 1991 to 1993.
Gates, currently president of the Texas AM University, is considered to be a close friend of the Bush family, according to the Associated Press. His nomination must be confirmed by the Senate.
"If confirmed by the Senate, Bob will bring more than 25 years of national security experience and a stellar reputation as an effective leader with sound judgment," said Bush. Gates is also serving as a member of the Baker Hamilton Commission, which is studying the situation in Iraq.
Bush said his decision to replace Rumsfeld was not a political one. He also said that U.S. troops would not be pulled out of Iraq before the job is done.
"To our enemies: do not be joyful. Do not confuse the workings of our democracy with a lack of will. Our nation is committed to bringing you to justice," the president said.
"To the people of Iraq: do not be fearful. As you take the difficult steps toward democracy and peace, America's gonna stand with you. We know you want a better way of life, and now is the time to seize it," he said.
"To our brave men and women in uniform: Don't be doubtful. America will always support you. Our nation is blessed to have men and women who volunteer to serve and are willing to risk their own lives for the safety of our fellow citizens," Bush added.
Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), who is expected to be the next speaker of the House, earlier called for Rumsfeld to step down.
Pelosi told a press conference Bush must "signal a change of direction," adding that the administration needed to "change the civilian leadership at the Pentagon."
After Bush's announcement, Pelosi said, "I think it will give us a fresh start."
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