The White House Wednesday sought to paper over any differences with Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, who complained he was not told of a postwar Iraq reorganizational shake-up. \nRumsfeld's annoyance at the White House emerged during an interview he gave to London's Financial Times newspaper, a rare display of public pique within US President George W. Bush's famously disciplined inner circle. \nAnd it came at a time when the White House, confronting falling poll numbers, is launching an aggressive public relations push aimed at bolstering declining support among Americans for the Iraq mission. \nBush used a US$14 million fund-raiser Wednesday night to reassure Republican campaign contributors that "America did the right thing" in Iraq and that the hunt for weapons of mass destruction was well under way. \n"There's a lot more to investigate," he told 2,000 Republican donors. "Yet it is now undeniable -- undeniable -- that Saddam Hussein was in clear violation of United Nations Security Council Resolution 1441," he said, citing evidence the top CIA weapons hunter presented this month. \n"Iraq is free. America is more secure," Bush said. \nUnder pressure to bring stability to Iraq, Bush announced Monday a major reorganization of US efforts to bring control to Iraq, headed by Rice, and including representatives from the State Department and other key agencies. \nIn the Financial Times interview, Rumsfeld sounded annoyed that Rice, who heads the National Security Council, had decided to draw attention to a memo establishing the reorganization by giving a "background" briefing to The New York Times. \n"I don't quite know what the purpose of the backgrounding was ... she gave a background, she said what she said, and the way I read the memorandum is that it is basically what the responsibility of the NSC is and always has been, which is what's been going on," Rumsfeld said. \nHe said he did not know Rice was writing the memo, but admitted he writes memos himself that colleagues do not know about until they receive them. He said the memo should not be classified and should be released. \nBut answering questions from reporters in Colorado Springs, Colorado, where he was attending a defense ministers meeting, Rumsfeld said he was "not at all" upset about the memo, which he said apparently had been discussed at a lower level than him and need not have been brought to his level. \n"It's not a problem or an issue," Rumsfeld said, expressing surprise that reporters were asking him about the issue. \nWhite House officials said Bush retained complete confidence in Rumsfeld, that his authority had not been diminished and the Pentagon remained the lead agency in Iraq. \nBut the move was perceived in Washington as giving the State Department a greater say in postwar reconstruction in Iraq. State Department officials have felt sidelined from what would normally be an effort they would lead. \n"What it means is that, at least in the policy formulation stage, other agencies are going to have a bigger voice than they had up to this point," said Ivo Daalder, a defense analyst at the Brookings Institution think tank. \nWhite House spokesman Scott McClellan singled out a portion of Rumsfeld's remarks to the Financial Times, that the defense secretary said the NSC's job is to coordinate policy, to suggest there was no difference between the White House and Rumsfeld. \n"I looked at what he said, and it's right in line with what we said," he added.
OFF BORDER ISLAND: The fisheries official disappeared from a patrol vessel wearing a life jacket and leaving behind his shoes, indicating an intentional move, Seoul said North Korean soldiers shot dead a suspected South Korean defector at sea and burned his body as a COVID-19 precaution after he was interrogated in the water over several hours, Seoul military officials said yesterday. It is the first killing of a South Korean citizen by North Korean forces for a decade, and comes with Pyongyang at high alert over the COVID-19 pandemic and inter-Korean relations at a standstill. The fisheries official disappeared from a patrol vessel near the western border island of Yeonpyeong on Monday, the official said. More than 24 hours later, North Korean forces located him in their waters and
ACADEMIC FREEDOM: One professor told her students to submit anonymized papers and not to record any online classes. Some US schools have announced similar steps Students at Oxford University specializing in the study of China are being asked to submit some papers anonymously to protect them from the possibility of retribution under the sweeping new security law introduced three months ago in Hong Kong. The anonymity ruling is to be applied in classes, and group tutorials are to be replaced by one-to-ones. Students are also to be warned that it will be viewed as a disciplinary offence if they tape classes or share them with outside groups. The Hong Kong National Security Law was imposed on June 30 by Beijing after more than a year of pro-democracy
Japan’s government yesterday urged people to seek help if they were struggling to cope, following Sunday’s death of the popular actress and Miss Sherlock star Yuko Takeuchi, 40. News of her death shocked the nation and follows other recent cases of Japanese celebrities taking their lives, with figures showing a recent rise in suicides. Takeuchi was a household name in Japan and had given birth to her second child in January. Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Katsunobu Kato did not mention a particular case, but said that some people were struggling to cope during the COVID-19 pandemic. “There has been an uptick in the number
China on Thursday lashed out at the US at a high-level UN meeting over its criticism on the COVID-19 pandemic, with its envoy declaring, “Enough is enough.” Two days after US President Donald Trump used his annual address to the General Assembly to attack China’s record, US Ambassador to the UN Kelly Craft, also took an outraged tone — after which her Chinese counterpart showed palpable anger. “I must say, enough is enough. You have created enough troubles for the world already,” Chinese Ambassador to the UN Zhang Jun (張軍) told a Security Council meeting on global governance attended through videoconference