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So perhaps it is fortunate that work is what Rumsfeld does best. He arrives at his office each day at 6:30 a.m. and typically stays at his post for 12 hours before heading home and working several more hours. He often speaks first to Franks and then joins a conference call with Condoleezza Rice and Colin Powell. Focused as he has been on Iraq, the Secretary isn't preoccupied: his influence is felt across the board, on arms control, China policy, the North Korean crisis and the still fruitless hunt for bin Laden. He has backed the creation of the Homeland Security Department and jump-started a military command to support its work. But he drew the line when Congress pressed the President to place all U.S. intelligence assets, including military intelligence, under CIA control. Among those in the Bush inner circle, Rumsfeld is closest to Cheney philosophically and personally. Friends for 35 years, the two men talk about everything, including the state of the economy.
Paul Wolfowitz, Rumsfeld's deputy, describes his boss as "a constant, active source of energy." Where Rumsfeld goes, Wolfowitz says, "he kind of generates a mini-storm." Republican Senators complained to White House chief of staff Andrew Card that Rumsfeld was keeping them in the dark about war plans and other military issues. So last week Rumsfeld reported to Capitol Hill for a 2 1/2-hour kiss-and-make-up session with Senators. Asked later if he had been ignoring his minders, Rumsfeld said, "I don't think there is a problem."
It is that truculent attitude that most irritates many military men. Some who have worked with Rumsfeld say his interpersonal skills are shabby, however charming he is on camera. "Rumsfeld's a bully; he's arrogant, and he has a huge ego," says a senior Army officer with more than 30 years' experience in uniform. The loudest cries come from the Army, where Rumsfeld and his troops have kneecapped the two men in charge. Rumsfeld let it be known last April that the Army's top general, Chief of Staff Eric Shinseki, was a lame duck 15 months before his term was slated to end. "It was condescending and a little bit cruel," says Barry McCaffrey, a retired four-star Army general. A month later, Rumsfeld loyalists made it clear that Army Secretary Thomas White, a former Enron executive who vainly tried to thwart Rumsfeld's decision to kill the Crusader, was one more mistake away from losing his job. "It's pretty clear that the Army is going to be the big loser," says Lawrence Korb, a top Reagan-era Pentagon aide. "If it were not for the war in Afghanistan and the looming war in Iraq, I'm sure they would already be cutting two Army divisions."