THE fate of Donald Rumsfeld, the embattled US defence secretary, was hanging in the balance last night after more Democrats joined the chorus for him to resign over the Iraqi prisoner abuse scandal.
Dick Cheney, the vice president, defended Mr Rumsfeld, saying people should "get off his case".
However, it did not deter Democrats who sniffed blood, while several leading Republican lawmakers said Mr Rumsfeld still faces scrutiny, as serious questions remain and investigations continue.
During day-long testimony to Congress on Friday, the defence secretary took responsibility for the abuse of Iraqi prisoners by US forces but said he would not resign just to satisfy political enemies.
On a television talk show yesterday, Republican Senator Chuck Hagel of Nebraska, a Vietnam veteran and a leading voice on foreign affairs, said the fate of Mr Rumsfeld and Air Force General Richard Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, was not yet settled.
"We don't have all the facts. We don't know all the pieces yet. But I think, over the next couple of weeks, the president's going to have to make some hard choices here," Mr Hagel said.