Published November 06, 2003
WASHINGTON – A high-ranking House Democrat on Wednesday took Donald Rumsfeld (search) to task, saying the defense secretary should do the country "a service" and resign from his post.
Referring to a memo leaked last month in which Rumsfeld asked his four top aides several ponderous questions about gauging the success in the war on terror, Rep. Charles Rangel (search) of New York said Rumsfeld doesn't have the strategy for getting U.S. troops out of Iraq nor a clue whether efforts in Iraq have been successful or not.
"The whole idea of having a leaked report that says that there is no game plan, he doesn't know whether he's winning or losing, that he's asking questions outside of the box — he's not supposed to be asking questions, he's supposed to be giving answers to those questions. Our men and women that are dying every day are entitled to a game plan," Rangel told Fox News' Neil Cavuto.
"We owe it to the troops to have some type of plan and he's the guy that's responsible for this, he ought to come up with a plan or resign."
On Sunday, Rumsfeld appeared on a "Fox News Sunday" and spoke in specific detail about U.S. postwar planning and what has been achieved in Iraq.
"We now have over 100,000 Iraqis who are serving in the Army, the police, the site protection, the civil defense, the border patrols. It's gone from zero up to 100,000. Our plan is to take it in excess of 200,000 by next year. And it will be Iraqis that will be out killing and capturing the remnants of the Saddam Hussein regime," Rumsfeld said, adding that it is impossible for the Iraqi security forces to go from zero to 100,000 troops without a plan.
But Rangel, the ranking Democrat on the House Ways and Means Committee (search), said he is incensed that the secretary says the contents of the leaked memo reflect his thinking. Among the questions in the memo, which ended up in reporters' hands last month after a Pentagon staffer made photocopies of it, Rumsfeld asked, "Is the U.S. winning or losing the global war on terrorism?"
"Is our current situation such that 'the harder we work, the behinder we get?' It is pretty clear that the coalition can win in Afghanistan and Iraq in one way or another, but it will be a long, hard slog," he stated in the memo.
Rumsfeld also posed some of his own discussion topics, including, "It is not possible to change [the Department of Defense] fast enough to successfully fight the global war on terror, an alternative might be to try to fashion a new institution, either within DoD or elsewhere — one that seamlessly focuses the capabilities of several departments and agencies on this key problem."
Rumsfeld wrote that in terms of cost and benefit, the "ratio is against us! Our cost is billions against the terrorists' costs of millions."
"He doesn't know whether we're winning or losing, he doesn't know whether we're creating more terrorists than we're killing, and ... he has no answers to the problems of how the hell we're going to get out of Iraq," said Rangel, who added that he's not "overly impressed" that the greatest military power in the world "knocked off" the military "running around in Iraq."
"If he doesn't know, he will to have to step aside so we can find somebody who can tell us whether we're winning or losing," Rangel added.
Rumsfeld said based on numbers alone, the United States is clearly winning the war on terror — many more terrorists are being killed or captured than are coalition troops. But he acknowledged that he does not know how to measure how many terrorists are being created in radical Islamic schools and elsewhere.
"Our goal has to be to continue doing what we're doing on the global war on terror. And that is going well. We are capturing and killing a lot of terrorists," he said. "But we also have to think about the number of new ones that are being created, it seems to me. And the memo I wrote raised that question. How might we do that? How do we win that battle of ideas? And it's not going to be so much the United States as it is other people from other countries who see their religion hijacked and taken away from them."
Rangel also complained that troops on the ground in Baghdad aren't happy with their circumstances and morale is suffering as a result.
"I think the worst thing the most harmful thing that a combat soldier can read ... is that the people back home have no clue how long you're going to stay there, who the enemy is, and when can you possibly determine victory. It just seems to me that that is what is really undermining the morale of the troops," Rangel said.
On Wednesday, vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Peter Pace inadvertently revealed elements of the plan to rotate troops in and out of Iraq in the coming months.
Speaking at a House Armed Services Committee, Pace said that currently four divisions are in Iraq, but in the next rotation, only three will remain.
According to a plan signed by Rumsfeld on Wednesday and expected to be released Thursday, the 101st Airborne (search) will be replaced by U.S. Marines (search). In the revised rotation schedule, heavy armored divisions are to be rotated with lighter Marines units, Army light infantry and motorized divisions and National Guard and Reserve units with specialties in military policing and civil affairs.
The plan foresees the total number of U.S. troops in Iraq dropping by more than 20,000 by May, assuming that Iraqi forces will continue to be quickly trained to take over.
On Sunday, Rumsfeld said that process is moving quickly, and likely will depend on recruiting ex-Iraqi soldiers to take over.
"We've been recruiting them for six months. We've been putting them in the police force. We've been putting them in the border patrol and the site protection and in the Army," he said.
Finally, Rangel said he was angered by Rumsfeld's "lack of sensitivity" over the deadly helicopter crash in Baghdad this weekend that killed 15 American soldiers.
During his weekend appearance on "Fox News Sunday," Rumsfeld said, "One has to say that this is a tragic day for those young men and women who are serving our country so wonderfully, and my prayers and sympathy go to the families and the loved ones of those that were killed and wounded."
He added that days like that will occur in war, and Americans must recognize that.
Fox News' Bret Baier contributed to this report.