Union Tribune

March 20, 2002

Rumsfeld may have sunk NASA nomination


WASHINGTON Earlier this year, National Aeronautics and
Space Administration chief Sean O'Keefe decided he needed a
deputy with technical expertise in aviation and space operations
to complement his skills as a fiscal manager.

President Bush agreed, and on Feb. 26 nominated O'Keefe's
choice for NASA's No. 2 executive: Marine Corps Maj. Gen.
Charles F. Bolden, a combat-experienced aviator, test pilot,
astronaut and one-time NASA official.

Bolden, commander of the 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing at Miramar
Marine Corps Air Station, was to have remained on active duty
with a promotion to lieutenant general while serving in the
normally civilian post.

But Bolden's nomination was abruptly withdrawn March 13, on
the eve of his confirmation hearing, apparently because
someone failed to clear the choice with Defense Secretary
Donald Rumsfeld.

Bolden's Marine spokesman said the general did not care to
discuss the matter.

The White House and NASA said Bolden's nomination was
withdrawn because all qualified military personnel are needed to
conduct the war against terrorism.

The rumor running through the Pentagon was that Rumsfeld had
been bypassed in the initial decision to tap a senior military
officer for the civilian post and protested strongly when he
became aware of it.

O'Keefe appeared to support that in a statement, saying, "Given
the ongoing war on terrorism and the imperative expressed by
the secretary of defense that all uniformed military personnel
serve to advance the president's objectives to win the war, we
fully support the . . . decision."