McCain supports hearing on Rumsfeld

Sen. John McCainJohn Sidney McCainMcCain rips Trump for attacks on press NSA spying program overcomes key Senate hurdle Meghan McCain says her father regrets opposition to MLK Day MORE (R-Ariz.), the No. 2 member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said yesterday that he would support a hearing featuring the seven retired generals calling for the resignation of Donald Rumsfeld — with one caveat.

McCain said he would be in favor of the testimony on Rumsfeld’s performance “if it is a hearing that is balanced,” adding that it would have to include testimony from officials who back the secretary of defense.

The relationship between McCain and Rumsfeld has never been friendly and at times has been hostile over policy issues, programs and nominations.

McCain went so far as to say publicly that he had no confidence in Rumsfeld, citing the secretary’s handling of the Iraq war and his failure to send more troops into Iraq in 2004. However, McCain never asked for the resignation of the fellow former Navy pilot, saying that it is President’s Bush prerogative to keep Rumsfeld.

The question of whether Rumsfeld should go was a major topic of conversation when McCain recently appeared on “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno.”

Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y), a junior member of the armed-services panel and a potential 2008 presidential candidate, like McCain, has asked Sen. John Warner (R-Va.), the panel’s chairman, to hold a hearing with the generals calling for Rumsfeld’s resignation.

Clinton’s position on Rumsfeld echoes McCain’s. She is not among the Democrats calling for Rumsfeld’s head. Clinton said at a press conference in New York that the decision is up to Bush.

Democrats are looking to highlight Rumsfeld’s performance this election year. Senate Minority Whip Dick DurbinRichard (Dick) Joseph DurbinMcCarthy: ‘No deadline on DACA’ Ex-Sheriff David Clarke: Trump only one who 'cares about black American citizens' DHS chief takes heat over Trump furor MORE (D-Ill.) is planning to seek a nonbinding vote of no confidence in Rumsfeld on the floor.

Meanwhile, Warner, known for his independent streak at times, has vowed to discuss the possibility of a hearing with all his panel’s members.

Warner spokesman John Ullyot said the senator is going to decide on whether to support the hearing after he has consulted with his committee members over the next week. Ullyot also disputed media reports that there is going to be a committee vote to decide the issue.

In the past several months, Rumsfeld has come under intense criticism for his handing of the war in Iraq, his management style and strategic decisions. Bush reportedly refused to accept Rumsfeld’s resignation after the detainee-abuse scandal surfaced.

The retired generals calling for Rumsfeld’s ouster are Marine Corps Gen. Anthony Zinni, former head of the U.S. Central Command; Army Maj. Gen. John Batiste, who has worked closely with Rumsfeld; Marine Corps Lt. Gen. Greg Newbold, an operations officer at the Joint Chiefs of Staff; Army Maj. Gen. Paul Eaton; Army Maj. Gen. Charles Swannack; and former Army Maj. Gen. John Riggs. Marine Lt. Gen. Paul K. Van Riper recently joined the dissenting chorus, bringing the number of retired generals seeking Rumsfeld’s ouster to seven.

Rumsfeld said that he thinks the calls for his head will blow over. But if Warner decides to hold a hearing on Rumsfeld’s performance and invite the seven generals, the issue is unlikely to die down anytime soon. The 11 committee Democrats are likely to support a hearing with the retired generals, and ABC News reported that Sen. Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsDemocrats search for 51st net neutrality vote Overnight Tech: States sue FCC over net neutrality repeal | Senate Dems reach 50 votes on measure to override repeal | Dems press Apple on phone slowdowns, kids' health | New Android malware found Overnight Regulation: Dems claim 50 votes in Senate to block net neutrality repeal | Consumer bureau takes first step to revising payday lending rule | Trump wants to loosen rules on bank loans | Pentagon, FDA to speed up military drug approvals MORE (R-Maine) would also agree to it.