WASHINGTON – One of the most highly watched posts in President Bush's second-term Cabinet reshuffle appears to be set: Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld (search) will keep his job, FOX News has learned.
Bush asked Rumsfeld to stay on at the Pentagon on Monday during their weekly meeting, and the defense secretary agreed, a senior administration official said on Friday.
Bush feels that Rumsfeld is a "strong and capable leader" who in challenging times is the "right man to lead the Defense Department," the official told FOX News.
Rumsfeld's future had been the subject of much speculation, after revelations about abuses at Abu Ghraib (search) and other U.S.-run prisons in Iraq. Though Bush steadfastly backed his Defense chief — one of the more hawkish members of his administration — the acerbic-tongued 72-year-old had many detractors in Congress and the military.
Rumsfeld has also been blamed for poor postwar planning, his tenure having been marked by an unanticipated insurgency in Iraq and more than 1,250 U.S. deaths.
It had been widely believed at the Pentagon that Rumsfeld wanted to stay on, at least for a time, in order to oversee the continuing transition in Iraq and shepherd his plan for a fundamental transformation and modernization of the U.S. military.
Rumsfeld has a longtime government relationship with Vice President Dick Cheney (search), dating back to the Ford administration.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.