Defense conservatives in and out of government are lamenting the ouster of Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld and the nomination of former CIA Director Robert M. Gates as a takeover attempt by anticonservative Republicans.
Specifically, conservatives say Mr. GatesisanagentofformerSecretary ofStateJamesA.BakerIIIandformer National Security Adviser Brent Scowcroft,whoarefromthe“realist” school of national security advocates and who oppose the Bush administration’saggressivewaronterrorism.
Mr.Bakercurrentlyleadsthespecial task force on Iraq, also being headed by former Rep. Lee H. Hamilton, that is expected to recommendchangingthecourseofthewar on terrorism.
“This is a victory for defeatism,” said a former high-ranking defense official, opposed to the Baker-Scowcroftteam,ofMr.Gates’nomination.
The nomination of a career CIA officer also is seen by defense conservatives as marking the beginning of a power grab of the Defense Department by the CIA, which had been kept at bay by Mr. Rumsfeld’s policy of improving the military’s own intelligence capabilities, independent of the CIA.
Mr. Gates is expected to appoint key aides who share his pro-CIA views, we are told.
Among the first officials likely to be replaced, officials tell us, is Stephen Cambone, a close Rumsfeld adviser and undersecretary of defense for intelligence.
Mr. Cambone is known to want to stay on in the plum post, but the betting among officials is that Mr. Gates willappointoneofhiskeyaidestothe intelligenceundersecretaryposition and someone likely to have a CIA, as opposed to Pentagon, background.
Peter W. Rodman, assistant defense secretary for international security affairs, part of the policy shop, toldhisstaffonNov.9thatheplansto step down.