- The Washington Times - Friday, December 29, 2000

President-elect George W. Bush yesterday named Donald H. Rumsfeld to be secretary of defense 23 years after he completed a term in that job in the Ford administration.
Mr. Rumsfeld promised yesterday to direct the development of a missile-defense system and to help Mr. Bush fulfill his promise to restore the prowess of the military.
"History teaches us that weakness is provocative. 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," he said.
Mr. Bush praised his nominee as a man of strength and experience. "There's no question in my mind that his record of service to the country is extraordinary," the president-elect 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."
Mr. Rumsfeld, 68, has a lengthy resume that includes being elected to Congress before he was 30, serving as White House chief of staff, becoming the youngest man ever to head the Defense Department and holding the post of U.S. ambassador to NATO. He received the Presidential Medal of Freedom, co-chaired Sen. Bob Dole's 1996 presidential campaign, and ran large private-sector concerns, including biotech firm Gilead Sciences Inc., pharmaceutical company G.D. Searle & Co. and electronics manufacturer General Instrument Corp.
Mr. Rumsfeld led a panel that reported in 1998 that the United States could face the prospect of a direct missile attack by small nations, such as Iraq, Syria and North Korea, as early as 2003. That clashed sharply with official estimates that it would take decades for those nations to develop intercontinental missiles.
The report shook official Washington and led Republicans, including Mr. Bush, to demand development of a system to detect and shoot down incoming missiles.
The choice of Mr. Rumsfeld was something of a surprise. Republicans close to Mr. Bush had been signaling for days that Mr. Rumsfeld was in line to head the CIA and that former Sen. Daniel R. Coats of Indiana would be his choice for defense.
Senate conservative leaders had been pushing for Mr. Coats, but Mr. Coats did not impress the president-elect in an interview last week. Mr. Bush was said to be unimpressed by other candidates for the job as well, such as former Defense Department official Paul D. Wolfowitz.
Mr. Rumsfeld has close connections with the incoming Bush administration. He was the political mentor of Vice President-elect Richard B. Cheney, who followed Mr. Rumsfeld as White House chief of staff and later as defense secretary. Mr. Rumsfeld took an active role in Mr. Bush's remarkable fund-raising operation, which took in $70 million before the primary season hit its peak and which drove most serious Republican rivals out of the race almost before it began.
Mr. Rumsfeld joins a national security team already heavy with veterans. Mr. Bush's first appointment was retired Gen. Colin Powell, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff during the Gulf war, to be secretary of state. He then appointed former Stanford Provost Condoleeza Rice as his national security adviser.
Mr. Powell, Mr. Cheney, Miss Rice and Mr. Rumsfeld will form the core of Mr. Bush's foreign-policy team.
"One of the things that's really important for the American people to understand is, I'll be getting some of the best counsel possible… . There's going to be disagreements. I hope there is disagreement, because I know that disagreement will be based upon solid thought," said Mr. Bush. "And what you need to know is that if there is disagreement, I'll be prepared to make the decision necessary for the good of the country."
This is the second surprise appointment from the Bush team, which has shown a talent so far for keeping news under wraps and confounding pundits and even close advisers. Just a week ago, Mr. Bush surprised everyone by naming former Missouri Sen. John Ashcroft as attorney general. Gov. Frank Keating of Oklahoma was thought to be Mr. Bush's choice.
Mr. Bush expects to make more nominations today, perhaps naming Gov. Tommy G. Thompson of Wisconsin to head the Department of Health and Human Services. The president-elect said yesterday that he does not expect to finish his Cabinet before the new year, but this could be done by the end of next week. "Don't hold me to it, though," he said.
Mr. Bush said he thinks he is making good progress on naming his Cabinet, with eight of the 14 top positions filled, given the monthlong uncertainty over the winner of the presidential election.
"As to the deputy secretaries and assistant secretaries and legal counsels for all the departments … we feel like we're making pretty darn good progress, but it's hard to move quickly until we get the secretaries named," he said.
Mr. Bush has yet to name heads for the departments of Transportation, Health and Human Services, Veterans Affairs, Interior, and Energy. The most important remaining opening is at the Department of Education, crucial because of Mr. Bush's promise to make education the major focus of his administration.
"Let me just put it to you this way: On Inauguration Day, we'll be ready to assume our respective offices," Mr. Bush said.
Mr. Bush also made a series of secondary appointments, including naming Ari Fleischer his White House press secretary. The campaign press secretary, Karen Hughes, was named earlier this month to a higher-ranking position as a senior adviser to Mr. Bush. She will continue to advise him on communications, along with policy issues.
Mr. Bush also named Joseph Hagin, former deputy campaign manager, as his deputy chief of staff for operations. Former campaign policy director Joshua Bolten will serve as deputy chief of staff for policy.
Mr. Cheney, meanwhile, tapped a pair of his former deputies at the Defense Department to join his staff. Lewis "Scooter" Libby will become Mr. Cheney's chief of staff and foreign-policy adviser and former Defense Department general counsel David Addington will become the vice president's counsel.
None of the staff appointments made by Mr. Bush and Mr. Cheney require Senate confirmation, as will Mr. Rumsfeld and the other Cabinet-level officers.

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