NEWSWEEK: War General Shinseki on Criticism for Not Pushing Harder to Stop Rumsfeld From Going Into Iraq With Too Few Troops: 'Probably That's Fair, Not My Style'.
NEW YORK, April 16 /PRNewswire/ -- "I walked away from all this two and a half years ago," General Eric Shinseki, former chief of staff of the Army -- who alone warned Congress in the winter of 2003 that occupying Iraq would require "several hundred thousand troops," tells Newsweek in the current issue. With some critics arguing that Shinseki should have pushed harder to stop Rumsfeld from going into Iraq with too few troops, Shinseki tells Newsweek in the April 24 issue (on newsstands Monday, April 17), "Probably that's fair. Not my style." There was, he added cryptically, "a lot of turmoil" at the Pentagon in the lead-up to the war, which was "partly" Rumsfeld's fault. Shinseki had no desire to join the chorus of retired generals calling for Rumsfeld's resignation. He was circumspect about criticizing Rumsfeld at all, but pointedly said that the "person who should decide on the number of troops [to invade Iraq] is the combatant commander"- Gen. Tommy Franks, and not Rumsfeld.
(Photo: http://www.newscom.com/cgi-bin/prnh/20060416/NYSU002 )
The former four-star general appeared to be torn between his strong sense of duty and an uneasy conscience. Shinseki was clearly uncomfortable with the role of martyr, report Assistant Managing Editor Evan Thomas and National Security Correspondent John Barry. It has been reported that at the 40th reunion of the class of '65 at West Point last fall, Shinseki's classmates were wearing caps emblazoned "Ric Was Right." Last week, Newsweek e-mailed Shinseki to ask about the reports, Shinseki called back to say he had heard "rumors" about the caps. When asked if he was in attendance, Shinseki tells Newsweek, "Well, I saw a cap."
The Revolt of the Retired Generals has created considerable discomfort in the E-Ring of the Pentagon and at the White House. Rumsfeld is bothered by the furor. "He's concerned about the impact on the institution," Lawrence DiRita, Rumsfeld's counselor tells Newsweek. The controversy, DiRita says, can "make generals clam up around civilians, and civilians wonder, 'Is this the next general who is going to leak to The New York Times?'" For now, Bush has no intention of firing Rumsfeld. "He likes him," says a close friend of the president's, who requested anonymity in discussing such a sensitive matter. "He's not blind. He knows Rumsfeld sticks his foot in it." Adds a senior Bush aide, who declined to be named discussing the president's sentiments: "I haven't seen any evidence that their personal rapport is at all diminishing. They see each other often and talk often."
The old generals can be quite biting about Rumsfeld; but their criticisms are probably best understood as "the first salvos in the war over 'Who Lost Iraq," Douglas Macgregor, a retired U.S. Army colonel, tells Newsweek. "Yes, Rumsfeld should go," says Macgregor. "But a lot of the generals should be fired too. They share the blame for the mess we are in."
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