Donald Rumsfeld, who served as the United States Secretary of Defense from 1975-1977 and 2001-2006, has died, his family announced in a statement on Wednesday. He was 88.
“It is with deep sadness that we share the news of the passing of Donald Rumsfeld, an American statesman and devoted husband, grandfather and great grandfather. At 88, he was surrounded by family in his beloved Taos, New Mexico,” the statement reads. “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
After attending Princeton University and serving three years in the U.S. Navy, Rumsfeld began his career as a Republican representative in Congress from 1963 to 1969, where he was a co-sponsor of the Freedom of Information Act.
He was appointed to head the Office of Economic Opportunity by President Richard Nixon in 1969, and in 1974, he served as President Gerald Ford’s chief of staff. Rumsfeld became the youngest Secretary of Defense under Ford from 1975-1977, and he held the same position again under President George W. Bush from 2001-2006.
Rumsfeld played a central role in the invasion of Afghanistan and Iraq. Before and during the Iraq War, he was an ardent believer that the country held an active stockpile of weapons of mass destruction, despite insufficient evidence. His tenure during the Iraq War was controversial due to his support of torture and the Abu Ghraib prisoner abuse scandal.
In 2011, Rumsfeld published a memoir titled “Known and Unknown,” which covered his experience in the House of Representatives and serving in the Ford and Bush administrations during Watergate, the Vietnam War and the Iraq War. He was portrayed by Steve Carell in the 2018 Oscar-winning movie “Vice,” about the career of Vice President Dick Cheney.