Donald Rumsfeld, the two-time defense secretary best known for serving in that position at the height of the Iraq War, has died. He was 88.
The Chicago native passed away at his home in Taos, New Mexico, surrounded by family, according to a statement posted on his official Twitter account Wednesday.
“History may remember him for his extraordinary accomplishments over six decades of public service,” the statement read, “but for those who knew him best and whose lives were forever changed as a result, we will remember his unwavering love for his wife, Joyce, his family and friends, and the integrity he brought to a life dedicated to country.”
Rumsfeld worked under three Republican presidents – Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford and George W. Bush – over a career in public life that lasted more than 40 years. After serving a little more than six years as an Illinois congressman, Rumsfeld joined the Nixon administration in March 1969 and held a series of executive positions, including Director of the Office of Economic Opportunity, counselor to the president, and ambassador to NATO.
Following Nixon’s resignation in August 1974, Ford tapped Rumsfeld to be White House Chief of Staff. Rumsfeld spent 14 months in that position before becoming defense secretary for the first time in November 1975.
Rumsfeld left government following Ford’s defeat by Jimmy Carter in the 1976 presidential election and launched a successful corporate career, only to be recalled to serve as defense secretary again by Bush in 2001.
Rumsfeld arrived at the Pentagon with a plan to “transform” the armed forces, but his tenure was defined by the US response to the 9/11 terror attacks. He oversaw the early successes of the US invasion of Afghanistan and the 2003 overthrow of Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein.
However, Rumsfeld lost political support amid a series of setbacks in Iraq, including a bloody insurgency and the Abu Ghraib prisoner abuse scandal. He announced his resignation as defense secretary in November 2006 and left office the following month.
Rumsfeld’s second spell at the Pentagon may be best remembered his remarks in February 2002 when asked about the Bush administration’s contention that the Hussein government was supplying weapons of mass destruction to terror groups.
“Reports that say that something hasn’t happened are always interesting to me, because as we know, there are known knowns,” Rumsfeld began. “There are things we know we know. We also know there are known unknowns; that is to say, we know there are some things we do not know. But there are also unknown unknowns—the ones we don’t know we don’t know. And if one looks throughout the history of our country and other free countries, it is the latter category that tends to be the difficult ones.”
The so-called “known unknowns” remark was co-opted by Rumsfeld’s critics and thrown back at him during the later months of his tenure; documentarian Errol Morris titled his 2013 retrospective on Rumsfeld’s life and career “The Unknown Known.” Rumsfeld himself titled his best-selling 2011 memoir “Known and Unkown”.
With Post wires