A group of military newspapers added their voices this week to criticism of Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld '54, calling for his resignation and charging that the Pentagon leader "has lost credibility with the uniformed leadership, with the troops, with Congress and with the public at large."
The criticism of Rumsfeld's management of the Iraq war comes just days before midterm elections, as Democrats and some Republican candidates fault the Bush administration for its handling of the war.
The Military Times Media Group, including the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps papers, are private newspapers published by the Gannett Company, which also publishes USA Today.
The editorial said that a "new chorus of criticism is beginning to resonate. Active-duty military leaders are starting to voice misgivings about the war's planning, execution and dimming prospects for success."
It also cited a quotation from Gen. John Abizaid, the chief of U.S. Central Command, that "sectarian violence is probably as bad as I've seen it ... and that if not stopped, it is possible that Iraq could move towards civil war."
The White House forcefully countered the editorial's assertions. Press Secretary Tony Snow called the editorial "a shabby piece of work" and said it was "dramatically at odds with what we've been seeing on the ground in Iraq."
Snow citied another general, Gen. George Casey, the commander of forces in Iraq, who said, "The situation is hard, but Iraq is not a country that's awash in sectarian violence." Casey reports to Abizaid.
Snow also noted that the Military Times papers are "a Gannett publication" and do not necessarily reflect the views of military officials.
The Pentagon did not return a call seeking comment.
In the hotly contested race for New Jersey's Senate seat, both the Republican and Democratic candidates have strongly criticized Rumsfeld.
"I see Donald Rumsfeld as having an inability to change with the times," Republican candidate Tom Kean Jr. said in a recent interview with The Daily Princetonian. He added that "horrendous mistakes" have been made in the Iraq war.
Democratic incumbent Robert Menendez said in a news release in September that "Secretary Rumsfeld's resignation would be a step in the right direction, but ultimately the country needs a new plan to change the direction in Iraq."
In 2005, Rumsfeld told CNN's Larry King that he had twice offered to resign during the Abu Ghraib prisoner abuse scandal. Several retired generals, including former Central Command head Gen. Anthony Zinni, have called for his resignation over alleged mishandling of the war.
Rumsfeld majored in politics at Princeton and competed on the wrestling team with another future secretary of defense, Frank Carlucci '52. He wrote a senior thesis entitled "The Steel Seizure Case of 1952 and its Effect on Presidential Powers."
Rumsfeld was first appointed secretary of defense under President Gerald Ford at the age of 43, making him the youngest person to ever serve in that capacity. Twenty-five years later, President Bush once again asked Rumsfeld to serve as defense secretary, making him the oldest man to ever hold the job.
—Rumsfeld heads class of Princetonians in Bush administration (Jan. 17, 2001) —Reading Rummy: An insider's view of the U.S. defense secretary (Nov. 20, 2002)