U.S. Senate candidate Harold Ford, Jr. today asked his Republican opponents to join him in calling for the resignation of Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and supporting Colin Powell for the post. In a statement, Ford said:
"For the sake of our country and the safety of our troops, we need new leadership at the Pentagon. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld has lost the confidence of his military commanders, Iraqi leadership, Congress and the thousands of American service men and women who bravely and selflessly serve this country.
"When we ask our armed forces to make the commitment and sacrifice necessary to advance our interests and defend or freedoms, our leaders must share the responsibility and accountability. There is no more sacred obligation than to give our troops a strategy and plan to win. Secretary Rumsfeld has failed this test and it is time for him to step down.
"The nation's military and political efforts in Iraq and the Middle East would be significantly improved with the appointment of General Colin Powell as Secretary of Defense. The General possesses the institutional knowledge of the flawed pre-war planning and execution, and the expertise to know how to correct those mistakes. More importantly, he commands credibility, standing and stature in the eyes of war fighters, military leaders and allies -around the globe. The President should give General Powell veto power over every strategic and major military decision made in Iraq and Afghanistan, except for his of course.
"In addition, General Powell's experience resolving complicated and sensitive national security challenges is needed now more than ever. He will bring a respect for our military, a willingness to listen, a capacity to admit and correct mistakes, and an attention to detail that is absent now in the top job at the Pentagon.
"I stand with Generals Zinni, Eaton, Batiste, Swannack and Riggs - all of whom served in Iraq - in the call for new leadership at the Pentagon. Ed Bryant, Bob Corker and Van Hilleary should do the same."