RIFT WITH RUMMY?
NYT has a couple of pieces indicating some tension among the NSC team.
Donald Rumsfeld, US defence secretary, said on Tuesday he had not been told by President George W. Bush or the National Security Council that the White House was to restructure the handling of postwar Iraq before the media were briefed on the plan by NSC officials.
Mr Bush has ordered the creation of an “Iraq Stabilization Group,” which will be run by Condoleezza Rice who is head of the NSC, which co-ordinates foreign policy in the White House.
In an interview with the Financial Times and three European news organisations, Mr Rumsfeld insisted that the new NSC role appeared to be no different from the policy-co-ordinating structure that had existed for more than a year.
He said he did not know why Ms Rice, Mr Bush’s national security adviser, had felt it necessary to send a memorandum about the new organisation to cabinet officials or brief the New York Times about the move.
“That’s what the NSC’s charter is,” Mr Rumsfeld said. “The only thing unusual about it is the attention. I kind of wish they’d just release the memorandum.”
The White House sought today to play down differences with Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, who voiced a rare public complaint on Tuesday after being left in the dark about a change in the handling of postwar Iraq.
“The Pentagon continues to be, has been and continues to be the lead agency overseeing our efforts in Iraq,” the chief White House spokesman, Scott McClellan, said a day after Mr. Rumsfeld expressed his annoyance in an interview with The Financial Times of London, which first published his remarks on its Web site late Tuesday.
The misunderstanding, if it was that, concerns the Iraq Stabilization Group, whose creation was announced on Monday by President Bush. The new group is to be run by the national security adviser, Condoleezza Rice, and is to include representatives from the State Department and other agencies.
News that a new entity was being set up has stirred speculation that the move is an effort to give the State Department a greater say in the reconstruction of postwar Iraq. The civilian administrator in Iraq, L. Paul Bremer III, and Gen. John Abizaid, the top military officer in Iraq, both report to the defense secretary.