May 06, 2004
Democratic members of Congress began calling Thursday for Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld’s resignation over the U.S. military’s abuse of Iraqi prisoners, but the White House reaffirmed President Bush’s support of the embattled Cabinet officer.
Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, demanded Rumsfeld’s ouster ``for the good of our country, the safety of our troops, and our image around the globe.’’
``If he does not resign forthwith, the president should fire him,’’ Harkin said.
The top House Democrat indicated she, too, wanted Rumsfeld out. Asked if she thought Rumsfeld should quit, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., replied, ``Yes, I do.’’ She did not immediately elaborate.
Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., did not call for Rumsfeld’s resignation but said the secretary and his deputy, Paul Wolfowitz, ``bear ultimate responsibility for this catastrophe.’’
Harkin’s statement came as White House spokesman Scott McClellan said Bush ``absolutely’’ wants Rumsfeld to remain in office.
In a Thursday editorial, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch called for Rumsfeld to resign over the ``botched handling’’ of the investigation into the prisoner abuse at Iraq’s Abu Ghraib prison and over earlier Iraq war decisions. And, a column in The New York Times by Thomas L. Friedman called on President Bush to fire Rumsfeld ``today, not tomorrow or next month.’’
Asked about the column, Republican Sen. John McCain told CBS’ ``The Early Show,’’ ``I don’t presume to tell the president what he should do, but it’s obvious that there’s a lot of explaining that Secretary Rumsfeld and others have to do.’’
More this afternoon, stay tuned…