Bumiller of ‘NYT’ Writing Condi Bio, Will Take Leave

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By: E&P Staff

Elisabeth Bumiller, a prominent Washington correspondent for The New York Times and frequent TV guest, will be going on leave in June to write a biography of Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.

The leave is expected to last one year. The New York Observer broke the story this morning.

The book project has caused further ripples at the paper, as Bumiller’s husband, Steven Weisman, covers diplomatic issues at the paper–and he has been told he will have to switch beats to avoid conflict of interest concerns.

Bumiller currently writes the regular “White House Letter” feature in the Times. She has a story on the paper’s Web site today on the president’s surprise trip to Afghanistan. A search at the site finds few articles by Bumiller about Rice in recent months.

But on Nov. 17, 2004, after Rice was named to her present post, Bumiller in a front-page Times assessment, asked:

“Is she as hawkish as those who urged Mr. Bush to invade Iraq? Or is she more moderate like the men who have been her mentors, Secretary of State Colin L. Powell and Brent Scowcroft, the national security adviser to Mr. Bush’s father?

“More important, is she an ally of Vice President Dick Cheney? Or a counterpoint?”

More: “A key to her thinking is Sept. 11, 2001. Friends say that Ms. Rice, a Russia specialist who was schooled in the ways of the cold war, was transformed by the attacks. Already a conservative, she became convinced, friends say, that she was helping to preside over nothing less than the struggle between modernity and fundamentalism, and evolved along with Mr. Bush into more of a hard-liner….’Punish France, ignore Germany and forgive Russia,” Ms. Rice was widely quoted as telling associates in the spring of 2003, when she and Mr. Bush were angry at the allies who had not backed them on the war.”

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