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Republican lawmaker calls for Rumsfeld to resign

Republican lawmaker calls for Rumsfeld to resign

Rep. Chris Shays, who is facing a tough challenge from an anti-war Democrat, on Wednesday called for Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld to resign _ a rare demand from a longtime Republican.
The Connecticut lawmaker also accused officials at the Defense Department of withholding information about the Iraq war from Congress.
"I am losing faith in how we are fighting this war," Shays, a longtime supporter of the conflict, said in an interview. "I believe we have to motivate the Iraqis to do more."
The call reflects efforts by Republicans and Democrats ahead of the Nov. 7 legislative elections to shore up their positions about a war with which Americans have grown increasingly weary and bitter. The elections, in which all 435 seats on the House of Representatives and 33 of the Senate's 100 seats are on the ballot, could shift the Congress out of Republican control.
Shays, who was elected in 1987, said defense officials stopped cooperating with his congressional subcommittee after he proposed setting a timeline for troop withdrawals. Shays, who had previously opposed such a timeline, offered the plan in August following his 14th trip to Iraq since the war began.
Rumsfeld "simply is refusing to cooperate with a committee that oversees the Department of Defense," said Shays, a moderate Republican who has voted against the party rank-and-file on a number of issues in the past. "To me he has crossed the line."
"I think Donald Rumsfeld needs to step down," said Shays, who is chairman of the House Government Reform subcommittee on national security, emerging threats and international relations.
The Pentagon had no comment and referred to Rumsfeld's recent remarks. Asked on a flight to Nicaragua earlier this week whether he would resign, Rumsfeld responded, "No, no, no." He said he had spoken to President George W. Bush and he had voiced his support.
Several congressional Democrats have clamored for Rumsfeld's resignation, but it is rare for a lawmaker in Bush's political party to argue that the Pentagon chief should step down. Republican candidate Tom Kean Jr., who is seeking a Senate seat in New Jersey, also has called for Rumsfeld's resignation.
Shays is in one of the most competitive House races this year. His opponent, Democrat Diane Farrell, has opposed the war and advocates an exit strategy for U.S. troops. Farrell lost to Shays by 4 percentage points two years ago.
Farrell's campaign pointed out that she has been calling for Rumsfeld's resignation for months and said this is just the latest change in Shays' position.
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Associated Press Writers Anne Plummer Flaherty and Lolita Baldor in Washington contributed to this report.


Updated : 2021-04-13 09:58 GMT+08:00