- The Washington Times - Saturday, May 11, 2002

The Army yesterday accepted the resignation of a legislative liaison who officials say went too far in asking Congress to save an $11 billion artillery system Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld wants to cancel.
The resignation of Kenneth A. Steadman, a political appointee, was announced yesterday along with the results of an investigation into who faxed lawmakers "inflammatory and misleading talking points" aimed at salvaging the Crusader system, the Army said.
The probe found that despite Mr. Rumsfeld's preliminary decision to terminate the Crusader program, Army Secretary Thomas White asked deputies to prepare a document in support of the program because it was still in President Bush's budget.
But the document "contained inappropriate, inaccurate and offensive language and did not represent the Army's view," the Army said in a statement. It said a probe by the Army inspector general found Mr. Steadman delivered a draft of the document to members of Congress and staff without getting it approved by Mr. White or another superior.
An undisclosed number of staff members who work for Mr. Steadman and helped draft the document remain in their jobs. The Army said it is "taking appropriate action" against them, but did not explain, or say who they were.
Mr. Rumsfeld said yesterday that he considers the matter closed and does not think Mr. White had been disloyal.
"He was without knowledge of what took place," Mr. Rumsfeld told reporters. "In my view, he has addressed the subject. I believe that it has been handled properly."
Though Mr. White continued to push for the Crusader after being told of Mr. Rumsfeld's preliminary decision to kill it, he stopped doing so after learning of Mr. Rumsfeld's "final decision," Mr. Rumsfeld said.
Mr. Rumsfeld said he expected the Pentagon would be able to convince enough members of Congress to get the program killed.
The document said Mr. Rumsfeld's office wanted a "quick kill" of the Crusader program to demonstrate his political prowess and so the money could be diverted to other systems, a defense official said on the condition of anonymity. It also predicted soldiers would die in combat if the system were canceled.
"I am personally and professionally disturbed by the preparation and distribution of these so-called talking points that I find frankly offensive and insulting to the Department of the Army and Department of Defense," Mr. White said in the Army statement released yesterday.
"I have made clear within the Army that this action was repugnant and contrary to the interests of our troops and country," he said.

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