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CNN BREAKING NEWS

Secretary of the Army Resigns

Aired April 25, 2003 - 19:15   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: We have some breaking news to report. We have just learned that Thomas E. White, the 18th secretary of the Army is stepping down. For more on this we go now to Jamie McIntyre standing by at the Pentagon. Jamie, what does it mean?
JAMIE MCINTYRE, CNN SENIOR PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well, Anderson, just a short statement from the Pentagon a short while ago that Tom White has submitted his resignation as secretary of the Army to Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld. That Donald Rumsfeld has accepted his resignation, expressing his appreciation to Secretary White for what he called his long and able service to the country, first as career Army officer and then ad secretary of the Army.

Now, Secretary White has had a somewhat contentious relationship with Rumsfeld since the first day he got here. He was under fire initially for failing to divest himself of all of his Enron stock and holdings. He was a former Enron executive. And then he was in a somewhat contentious relationship with the secretary over the question of the reshaping of the Army. In particular, Secretary White wanted to preserve the Crusader, very heavy artillery piece that the Army was working on. Secretary Rumsfeld killed that program and there was some resentment among some people in the secretary of defense's office that Secretary White might have done lobbying on the Hill to try to save that particular project.

It was speculated many times he might be fired but he never was. In fact, Secretary Rumsfeld often expressed his support of Secretary White. But today we learned that Secretary White has resigned and Donald Rumsfeld has accepted his resignation -- Anderson.

COOPER: Yes, you mentioned he worked for Enron. He worked there for actually about 11 years, (UNINTELLIGIBLE) 1990 to 2001. But as secretary of the Army, what were his responsibilities? Most people probably never even heard of this guy.

MCINTYRE: Well each of the services are headed up by civilian. Because of course in the U.S. there's civilian control of the military.

The secretary of the Army's job is mainly to make sure the Army is properly equipped and ready to respond in a time of war. And he's essentially the boss of the Army chief of staff who is the top Army officer, General Eric Shinseki. And under Shinseki and White, the Army has been transforming to a lighter, mobile force. But, as I said, there have been a couple of issues in which I think the Army secretary felt that Secretary Rumsfeld wasn't accepting his advice on some key matters. And that's basically his job, though. To be the top civilian in charge of the Army.

COOPER: All right, Jamie McIntyre at Pentagon, thanks very much for the update.

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