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Gates Forced Pace To Resign To Avoid Congressional Oversight Of Iraq War

By Amanda Terkel on June 8, 2007 at 2:11 pm

"Gates Forced Pace To Resign To Avoid Congressional Oversight Of Iraq War"

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Gen. Peter Pace is the first Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff not to be renominated for a second term since the military was centralized under the joint chiefs position 21 years ago.

Today, Defense Secretary Robert Gates announced that the reason he made this unusual decision was because the administration wants to avoid a “contentious” nomination hearing with hard questions about the war in Iraq:

However, after consultations over the course of several weeks with Republican and Democratic senators, I concluded that because Gen. Pace has served as chairman and vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff for the last six years, the focus of his confirmation process would have been on the past, rather than the future.

[flv http://video.thinkprogress.org/2007/06/pacegates.320.240.flv]

Appointed as chairman by Donald Rumsfeld, Pace has been intimately involved in the U.S. failures in Iraq and has consistently touted the administration’s rosy rhetoric, despite the reality on the ground. Some highlights of his tenure:

On the situation in Iraq: “I’d say they’re going well. I wouldn’t put a great big smiley face on it, but I would say they’re going very, very well from everything you look at.” [3/5/06]

On troop withdrawal: “[W]e have published no orders saying come up with a complete plan for total drawdown.” [5/21/07]

On civil war in Iraq: In 2006, Pace “said Iraq isn’t on the brink of civil war and that there isn’t any deadline for withdrawing American and coalition troops from the country.” [3/5/06]

On U.S. troop casualties: On Memorial Day, Pace stated that “we had more than 3,000 Americans murdered on 11 September, 2001. The number who have died, sacrificed themselves since that time is approaching that number.” But in reality, the death toll in Iraq had already passed that of 9/11, with 3,455 troops killed. [5/28/07]

On the back-up plan if escalation fails: “Plan B was to make Plan A work.” [3/5/07]

On his support for Don’t Ask Don’t Tell: “I believe that homosexual acts between individuals are immoral, and that we should not condone immoral acts.” [3/12/07]

On Rumsfeld: “He leads in a way that the good Lord tells him is best for our country.” [10/19/06]

UPDATE: The New York Times notes, “When he steps down at the end of September, he will become the shortest-serving chairman since Gen. Maxwell D. Taylor in 1964, during the early years of the Vietnam War.”

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Transcript:

GATES: It had been my intention, from early in my tenure, to recommend to the President that Gen. Pace be renominated for another two-year term as chairman.

However, after consultations over the course of several weeks with Republican and Democratic senators, I concluded that because Gen. Pace has served as chairman and vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff for the last six years, the focus of his confirmation process would have been on the past, rather than the future.

And further, that there was the very real prospect that the process would be quite contentious. I am no stranger to contentious confirmations, and I do not shrink from it.

However, I have decided that at this moment in our history, the nation, our men and women in uniform, and Gen. Pace himself would not be well-served by a divisive ordeal in selecting the next chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

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