Tim Russert revealed two very interesting pieces of information this morning on Don Imus regarding the future of Donald Rumsfeld and his standing in the Pentagon:
1. After Rep. Jack Murtha appeared on Meet the Press and advocated troop withdrawal several officials in the Pentagon called Russert to tell him “Murtha is right.”
2. A source “close to the President” told Russert that Bush “won’t fire Rumsfeld because it would be the equivalent of firing himself.”
IMUS: Is there anything going on with the Rumsfeld story that is – I mean, the President is pledging this support and all that, and that’s usually the kiss of death, but not always. But probably not with this guy. But what do you hear?
RUSSERT: Well, I knew something was happening when I had John Murtha on several months ago and he talked about his plan for a timetable. And I got several calls from people at the Pentagon and others and they said, “You know Murtha’s right.” And I was stunned because you don’t usually get those kinds of calls. They were obviously people who would not allow me to broadcast their names. And then it continued with General Zinni who came on “Meet the Press” and said that Secretary Rumsfeld should resign. So the last couple of weeks, as I talked to people, one former general said we have the equivalent of a civil war going on at the Pentagon. The generals are trying to reclaim control of the war because they do believe serious mistakes were made. That’s a very serious statement. And then, someone very close to the President said to me, you know, he won’t fire Rumsfeld because it would be the equivalent of firing himself. He can’t acknowledge that it was such a big mistake, in so many ways. And so Rumsfeld will stay. And that’s the decision that the President has made and I think Rumsfeld will stay and try to see this through.