Bush Selects Rumsfeld for Another Term as Secretary of Defense
By Ralph Dannheisser
Washington File Staff Writer
Washington - President-elect George W. Bush has chosen Donald
Rumsfeld, a veteran of several prior Republican administrations, to be
his secretary of defense.
Rumsfeld, who was the youngest defense secretary when he served in the
post previously under President Ford, would be returning to the
Pentagon after an absence of almost a quarter century.
It had been widely speculated that Bush would name Rumsfeld, now 68,
to head the Central Intelligence Agency, but his choice for defense
came as something of a surprise. The Secretary-designate joked about
this in his remarks at a joint news conference after Bush announced
his selection December 28, saying he looked forward to working with
"the very fine national security team" that includes Vice
President-elect Dick Cheney, Colin Powell, Condoleezza Rice, "and your
director of central intelligence, whoever that may be."
"And I guess we can confirm today, Mr. President-elect, that it's not
me," he said.
Introducing Rumsfeld, Bush said "This is a man who has got great
judgment, he has got strong vision, and he's going to be a great
secretary of defense - again."
Rumsfeld first came on the national scene as a member of the House of
Representatives from Illinois, winning election at the age of 30 in
He served as director of the Office of Economic Opportunity and as
U.S. ambassador to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization under
President Nixon, White House chief of staff in the Ford administration
before his first term as defense secretary, and as a special envoy to
the Middle East in the Reagan administration.
Bush took the occasion of the Rumsfeld selection announcement to
restate and expand on some of his views on the United States' military
posture, starting with a comment that "the foundation of peace is to
have a military ready to keep the peace, ready for every danger, equal
to every challenge."
He cited three goals for the nation's defense: "One is to strengthen
the bond of trust between the American President and those who wear
our nation's uniform. Secondly is to defend our people and allies
against missiles and terror. And thirdly is to begin creating a
military prepared for the dangers of a new century."
With respect to the contentious issue of missile defense, Bush
declared that "to defend our forces and allies and our own country
from the threat of missile attack or accidental launch, we must
develop a missile defense system."
He indicated that he had chosen Rumsfeld in part because he was
impressed with his work as chairman of the Commission to Assess the
Ballistic Missile Threat to the United States, which in 1998 evaluated
the nation's vulnerability to missile attack.
"I felt he did an extraordinary job with a delicate assignment," Bush
said. "He brought people together who understand the realities of the
modern world. In picking Don Rumsfeld, we'll have a person who is
thoughtful and considerate and wise on the subject of missile
Rumsfeld, in his response, termed the start of the 21st century
"clearly not a time at the Pentagon for presiding or calibrating
"Rather, we are in a new national security environment," he said, one
that requires careful attention to "information warfare, missile
defense, terrorism, defense of our space assets and the proliferation
of weapons of mass destruction throughout the world.
"History teaches us that weakness is provocative," Rumsfeld said. "The
task you have outlined is to fashion deterrence and defense
capabilities, so that our country will be able to successfully
contribute to peace and stability in the world."
(The Washington File is a product of the Office of International
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