“It is with deep sadness that we share the news of the passing of Donald Rumsfeld, an American statesman and devoted husband, father, grandfather and great grandfather. At 88, he was surrounded by family in his beloved Taos, New Mexico,” the family said in a statement released Wednesday.
“History may remember him for his extraordinary accomplishments over six decades of public service, 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.”
A statement from the family of Donald Rumsfeld: pic.twitter.com/AlKYxVvqgF
— Donald Rumsfeld (@RumsfeldOffice) June 30, 2021
Rumsfeld was considered a key architect of the second Iraq War in 2003 and the invasion of Afghanistan, which led to America’s longest war. He famously sparred with the media and others over his claim that Iraq had an active weapons of mass destruction program. No stockpiles were ever found. He left office as the insurgency in Iraq strengthened and the war became unpopular.
His tenure was also marred by revelations in a New Yorker piece about torture and abuse of prisoners at the hands of U.S. military personnel at Abu Ghraib.
Rumsfeld was at the Pentagon when it was struck by a plane on 9/11. Just hours after the attacks, the Defense Secretary sought to assure the nation in a press conference at the Pentagon saying, “It’s an indication that the United States government is functioning in the face of this terrible act against our country. I should add that the briefing here is taking place in the Pentagon. The Pentagon’s functioning. It will be in business tomorrow.”
Rumsfeld featured prominently in Errol Morris’s 2013 documentary The Known Unknown, the title a phrase Rumsfeld popularized in a briefing with reporters. Despite the friction between himself and the media, Rumsfeld held weekly press conferences while Secretary of Defense.
He was portrayed by Steve Carrell in Adam McKay’s 2018 movie Vice and by Scott Glenn in Oliver Stone’s W. Darrell Hammond played the then-Secretary of Defense on SNL.
Rumsfeld served as Secretary of Defense from 1975 to 1977 under Gerald Ford, and again from January 2001 to December 2006 under George W. Bush. He is both the youngest and the second-oldest person to have served in the post. Rumsfeld was also elected to the U.S. Congress from Illinois, director of the Office of Economic Opportunity, counsellor to President Nixon, the United States Permanent Representative to NATO and White House Chief of Staff.