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Army Times calls for Rumsfeld's departure

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(CNN) -- An editorial to be published in a major military publication Monday calls for Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld's replacement.

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

The editorial will be in four independent publications that serves the U.S. Army, U.S. Navy, U.S. Marine Corps, and the U.S. Air Force, according to the senior managing editor for Army Times Publications, the papers' parent company.

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

It was inspired after Bush's stated earlier 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," he told CNN on Friday.

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

Army Times Publications publishes the Army Times, Navy Times, Air Force Times and the Marine Corps Times.

Whitman said Rumsfeld has always "clearly and accurately" described the challenges facing U.S. forces in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The Secretary of Defense has always said the "war on terror" will be a long struggle, Whitman said.

"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."

Owned by the Gannett Company, 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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