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Army Times: 'Time for Rumsfeld to go'

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(CNN) -- An editorial to be published in an independent military publication Monday calls for Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld to be replaced.

And the Pentagon is countering by saying the new "chorus of criticism" is "old news."

The editorial will appear Monday in the four weekly publications that serve the four main branches of the U.S. military, according to the senior managing editor for Army Times Publications, the papers' parent company.

It is owned by the Gannett Company, publisher of USA Today and many local U.S. newspapers.

The editorial was posted Saturday on the Web sites of the four publications: Army Times, Navy Times, Air Force Times and the Marine Corps Times. (Read the editorialexternal link)

It reads: "It is one thing for the majority of Americans to think Rumsfeld has failed. But when the nation's current military leaders start to break publicly with their defense secretary, then it is clear that he is losing control of the institution he ostensibly leads."

The timing of the editorial's publishing was not prompted by Tuesday's midterm elections, said Army Times' editor Robert Hodierne.

It was inspired by Bush statement this week that he wants Rumsfeld and Vice President Dick Cheney in their posts through the end of his term, the editor said. (Watch Bush say Rumsfeld is staying on the job -- 1:20 Video)

Swaying conservative voters "is not our aim," Hodierne told CNN on Friday.

"Rumsfeld has lost credibility with the uniformed leadership, with the troops, with Congress and with the public at large," the editorial states. "His strategy has failed, and his ability to lead is compromised. And although the blame for our failures in Iraq rests with the secretary, it will be the troops who bear its brunt."

White House spokesman Tony Snow said the president was told about the editorial, and his reaction was to "shrug it off."

Defense Department spokesman Bryan Whitman downplayed the "new chorus of criticism."

[It] is actually old news and does not include commanders in the field, who remain committed to the mission," Whitman said.

"The assertion, without evidence, that senior military officers are 'toeing the line' is an insult to their judgment and integrity," he added.

Hodierne countered by saying that Rumsfeld has "lost the support and respect of the military leadership" considering "some of the public statements that military leaders are making."

"... With their [other military leaders'] disagreements, added up with all of the other missteps we believe he's made, it's time for him to be replaced," Hodierne said.

Whitman said Rumsfeld has always "clearly and accurately" described the challenges facing U.S. forces in Iraq and Afghanistan and that the "war on terror" will be a long struggle.

"This country and the leadership of the Defense Department are going to ensure that our military forces have the resources to successfully carry out their mission, and to suggest otherwise is simply wrong," he said.

This is the second time the military publications have urged Rumsfeld to vacate his post.

In May 2004, when the Abu Ghraib prison scandal broke, an Army Times editorial said: "This was not just a failure of leadership at the local command level. This was a failure that ran straight to the top."

Army Times Publishing is the world's largest publisher of defense and military-related periodicals, Hodierne said.

The four weekly newspapers, distributed in base convenience stores and commissaries around the world as well as delivered to subscribers, have a combined circulation of about 250,000.



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