Signing machine

Donald Rumsfeld


Donald Henry Rumsfeld (born July 9, 1932) is a United States businessman, politician, the 13th Secretary of Defense under President Gerald Ford from 1975 to 1977, and the 21st Secretary of Defense under President George W. Bush from 2001 to 2006. He is both the youngest (43 years old) and the oldest (68 years old) person to have held the position, as well as the only person to have held the position for two non-consecutive terms, and the second longest serving, behind Robert McNamara. According to ABC and BBC news profiles, Rumsfeld may have been the most controversial defense secretary in US history.

Rumsfeld was White House Chief of Staff during part of President Gerald Ford's Administration, and also served in various positions under President Richard Nixon. Rumsfeld served four terms in the United States House of Representatives, and served as United States Ambassador to NATO. Rumsfeld was an aviator in the United States Navy between 1954 and 1957 before transferring to the Reserve. In public life, he has also served as an official in numerous federal commissions and councils.

Background and family


Donald Rumsfeld was born on July 9, 1932 in Evanston, Illinois, to George Donald Rumsfeld (Illinois, October 10, 1904 – September 1974) and Jeannette Huster (Illinois, May 27, 1903 – May 3, 1988). His great-grandfather Johann Heinrich Rumsfeld emigrated from Weyhe near Bremen in Northern Germany in 1876. Rumsfeld grew up in Winnetka, Illinois.

Rumsfeld became an Eagle Scout in 1949 and is the recipient of both the Distinguished Eagle Scout Award from the Boy Scouts of America and their Silver Buffalo Award in 2006. He was a ranger at Philmont Scout Ranch in 1949. Rumsfeld would later buy a vacation house west of Philmont at Taos, New Mexico.


Rumsfeld went to Baker Demonstration School for middle school and attended and graduated from New Trier High School. He attended Princeton University on academic and NROTC scholarships (A.B., 1954). In extracurricular activities he was an accomplished amateur wrestler and a member of the Lightweight Football team playing defensive back. While at Princeton his roommate was another future Secretary of Defense Frank Carlucci.

His Princeton University senior thesis was titled "The Steel Seizure Case of 1952 and Its Effects on Presidential Powers.

In 1956 he attended Georgetown University Law Center, but did not graduate.

Domestic life

Rumsfeld married Joyce H. Pierson (born September 18, 1932) on December 27, 1954. They have three children and six grandchildren. Their three children are psychologist Valerie J. Rumsfeld Richard (born March 3, 1956), Marcy K. Rumsfeld Walczak (born March 28, 1960), and Internet entrepreneur Donald Nicholas "Nick" Rumsfeld (born June 26, 1967).

Rumsfeld lives in St. Michaels, Maryland, in a former plantation home, site of Frederick Douglass' "breaking" by Edward Covey.

Early career (1954–1976)

Military service

Rumsfeld served in the U.S. Navy from 1954 to 1957 as a naval aviator and flight instructor. His initial training was in the North American SNJ Texan basic trainer after which he transitioned to flying the Grumman F9F Panther fighter. In 1957, he transferred to the Naval Reserve and continued his naval service in flying and administrative assignments as a drilling reservist until 1975. He transferred to the Individual Ready Reserve when he became Secretary of Defense in 1975 and retired with the rank of Captain in 1989.

Early civilian career

In 1957, during the Eisenhower administration, he served as Administrative Assistant to David S. Dennison, Jr., a Congressman representing the 11th district of Ohio. In 1959, Rumsfeld then moved on to become a staff assistant to Congressman Robert P. Griffin of Michigan.

He then did a two-year stint with investment banking firm A. G. Becker from 1960 to 1962.

Member of Congress

Rumsfeld was elected to the United States House of Representatives for Illinois' 13th congressional district in 1962, at the age of 30, and was re-elected by large majorities in 1964, 1966, and 1968.

In the Congress, he served on the Joint Economic Committee, the Committee on Science and Aeronautics, and the Government Operations Committee, as well as the Subcommittees on Military and Foreign Operations. He was also a co-founder of the Japanese-American Inter-Parliamentary Council.

As a young Congressman, Rumsfeld attended seminars at the University of Chicago, an experience Rumsfeld credits with introducing him to the idea of an all volunteer military, and to the economist Milton Friedman and the Chicago School of Economics. He would later take part in Friedman's PBS series Free to Choose.

Nixon Administration

Rumsfeld resigned from Congress in 1969 — his fourth term — to serve in the Nixon administration as Director of the United States Office of Economic Opportunity, Assistant to the President, and a member of the President's Cabinet (1969–1970); named Counselor to the President in December 1970, Director of the Economic Stabilization Program; and member of the President's Cabinet (1971–1972).

In 1971 Nixon was recorded saying about Rumsfeld "at least Rummy is tough enough" and "He's a ruthless little bastard. You can be sure of that." In February 1973, Rumsfeld left Washington to serve as U.S. Ambassador to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) in Brussels, Belgium. He served as the United States' Permanent Representative to the North Atlantic Council and the Defense Planning Committee, and the Nuclear Planning Group. In this capacity, he represented the United States in wide-ranging military and diplomatic matters.

Ford Administration

In August 1974, he was called back to Washington to serve as transition chairman for the new president, Gerald R. Ford. He had been Ford's confidant since their days in the House when Ford was House minority leader. Later in Ford's presidency, Rumsfeld became White House Chief of Staff, where he served from 1974 to 1975. In October 1975, Ford reshuffled his cabinet in the Halloween Massacre. He named Rumsfeld to become the 13th U.S. Secretary of Defense; George H. W. Bush became Director of the CIA. According to Bob Woodward's 2002 book Bush at War, a rivalry developed between the two men and "Bush senior was convinced that Rumsfeld was pushing him out to the CIA to end his political career.

At the Pentagon, Rumsfeld oversaw the transition to an all-volunteer military. He sought to reverse the gradual decline in the defense budget and to build up U.S. strategic and conventional forces, skillfully undermining Secretary of State Henry Kissinger at the SALT talks. He asserted, along with Team B (which he helped to set up), that trends in comparative U.S.-Soviet military strength had not favored the United States for 15 to 20 years and that, if continued, they "would have the effect of injecting a fundamental instability in the world." To this end, he oversaw the development of cruise missiles,the B-1 bomber, and a major naval shipbuilding program.

In 1977, Rumsfeld was awarded the nation's highest civilian award, the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Kissinger, his bureaucratic adversary, would later pay him a different sort of compliment, pronouncing him

a special Washington phenomenon: the skilled full-time politician-bureaucrat in whom ambition, ability, and substance fuse seamlessly|30|30| Henry Kissinger, Years of Renewal .

Private career (1977–2000)


In early 1977 Rumsfeld briefly lectured at Princeton's Woodrow Wilson School and Northwestern's Kellogg School of Management, in his hometown of Evanston, Illinois.


From 1977 to 1985 Rumsfeld served as Chief Executive Officer, President, and then Chairman of G.D. Searle & Company, a worldwide pharmaceutical company based in Skokie. During his tenure at Searle, Rumsfeld led the company's financial turnaround that in turn earned him awards as the Outstanding Chief Executive Officer in the Pharmaceutical Industry from the Wall Street Transcript (1980) and Financial World (1981). Rumsfeld is believed to have earned around $12 million from Searle's sale to Monsanto.

Rumsfeld served as Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of General Instrument Corporation from 1990 to 1993. A leader in broadband transmission, distribution, and access control technologies for cable, satellite and terrestrial broadcasting applications, the company pioneered the development of the first all-digital high-definition television (HDTV) technology. After taking the company public and returning it to profitability, Rumsfeld returned to private business in late 1993.

From January 1997 until being sworn in as the 21st Secretary of Defense in January 2001, Rumsfeld served as Chairman of Gilead Sciences, Inc. Gilead Sciences is the developer of Tamiflu (Oseltamivir), which is used in the treatment of bird flu.As a result, Rumsfeld's holdings in the company grew significantly when avian flu became a subject of popular anxiety during his later term as Secretary of Defense. Following standard practice, Rumsfeld recused himself from any decisions involving Gilead, and he directed the Pentagon's General Counsel issue instructions outlining what he could and could not be involved in if there were an avian flu pandemic and the Pentagon had to respond.

Continued part-time public service

During his business career, Rumsfeld continued public service in various posts, including:

  • Member of the President's General Advisory Committee on Arms Control—Reagan Administration (1982–1986);
  • President Reagan's Special Envoy on the Law of the Sea Treaty (1982–1983);
  • Senior Advisor to President Reagan's Panel on Strategic Systems (1983–1984);
  • Member of the U.S. Joint Advisory Commission on U.S./Japan Relations—Reagan Administration (1983–1984);
  • President Reagan's Special Envoy to the Middle East (1983–1984);
  • Member of the National Commission on the Public Service (1987–1990);
  • Member of the National Economic Commission (1988–1989);
  • Member of the Board of Visitors of the National Defense University (1988–1992);
  • Chairman Emeritus, Defense Contractor, Carlyle Group (1989–2005);
  • Member of the Commission on U.S./Japan Relations (1989–1991);
  • Member of the Board of Directors for ABB Ltd. (1990–2001);
  • FCC's High Definition Television Advisory Committee (1992–1993);
  • Chairman, Commission on the Ballistic Missile Threat to the United States (1998–1999);
  • Member of the U.S. Trade Deficit Review Commission (1999–2000);
  • Member of the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR);
  • Chairman of the U.S. Commission to Assess National Security Space Management and Organization (2000);
  • Honorary Vice-Chancellor of Yale University (2001), honoring Rumsfeld's U.S. foreign policy work.

Rumsfeld served as United Way Inter-governmental Affairs Director in Washington, D.C. from 1986 to 1989. He was asked to serve the U.S. State Department as a "foreign policy consultant," a role he held from 1990 to 1993. He was also a board member of the RAND Corporation.

ABB and North Korea

Rumsfeld sat on ABB's board from 1990 to 2001. ABB is a European engineering giant based in Zürich, Switzerland; formed through the merger between ASEA of Sweden and Brown Boveri of Switzerland. In 2000 this company sold two light water nuclear reactors to KEDO for installation in North Korea, as part of the 1994 agreed framework reached under President Bill Clinton.

The sale of the nuclear technology was a high-profile contract. ABB's then chief executive, Göran Lindahl, visited North Korea in November 1999 to announce ABB's "wide-ranging, long-term cooperation agreement" with the communist government. Rumsfeld's office said that the Secretary of Defense did not "recall it being brought before the board at any time." But ABB spokesman Björn Edlund told Fortune that "board members were informed about this project."

Special Envoy to the Middle East

During his period as Reagan's Special Envoy to the Middle East (November 1983–May 1984), Rumsfeld was the most senior conduit for crucial American military intelligence, hardware and strategic advice to Saddam Hussein, then fighting Iran in the Iran–Iraq War. The United States' pro-Iraq policy was adopted when the tide of the Iran–Iraq War turned strongly in Iran's favor, and it looked as if Iran might overrun Iraq completely. Although the United States was hesitant to support a Soviet client state, the prospect of greatly expanded Iranian influence in the region outweighed these concerns. When Rumsfeld visited Baghdad on December 19–December 20, 1983, he and Saddam Hussein had a 90-minute discussion that covered Syria's occupation of Lebanon, preventing Syrian and Iranian expansion, preventing arms sales to Iran by foreign countries, increasing Iraqi oil production via a possible new oil pipeline across Jordan. According to declassified U.S. State Department documents Rumsfeld also informed Tariq Aziz (Iraqi Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister) that: "Our efforts to assist were inhibited by certain things that made it difficult for us ... citing the use of chemical weapons. Rumsfeld brought many gifts from the Reagan administration to Saddam Hussein. These gifts included pistols, medieval spiked hammers and a pair of golden cowboy spurs. Until the 1991 Gulf War, these were all displayed at Saddam Hussein's Victory Museum in Baghdad which held all the gifts bestowed on Saddam by friendly national leaders.

During his brief bid for the 1988 Republican nomination, Rumsfeld stated that restoring full relations with Iraq was one of his best achievements. This was not a particularly controversial position at the time, when U.S. policy considered supporting a totalitarian yet secular Iraq an effective bulwark against the expansion of Iranian revolutionary Islamist influence.

George H.W. Bush and Clinton years

Rumsfeld was a member of the National Academy of Public Administration and a member of the boards of trustees of the Gerald R. Ford Foundation, the Eisenhower Exchange Fellowships, the Hoover Institution at Stanford University, and the National Park Foundation. He was also a member of the U.S./Russia Business Forum and Chairman of the Congressional Leadership's National Security Advisory Group.

During the 1996 presidential election, Rumsfeld served as national chairman to the campaign of Bob Dole.

Rumsfeld was a founder and active member of the Project for the New American Century, a neo-conservative think tank dedicated to maintaining US Primacy. On January 29, 1998, he signed a PNAC letter calling for President Bill Clinton to implement "regime change" in Iraq.

From January to July 1998 Rumsfeld chaired the nine-member Commission to Assess the Ballistic Missile Threat to the United States. They concluded that Iraq, Iran, and North Korea could develop intercontinental ballistic missile capabilities in five to ten years and that U.S. intelligence would have little warning before such systems were deployed.

Presidential and Vice Presidential aspirations

During 1976 Republican National Convention, Rumsfeld received one vote for Vice President of the United States, although he did not seek the office, and the nomination was easily won by Ford's choice, Senator Bob Dole. During the 1980 Republican National Convention he also received one vote for V.P.

Rumsfeld briefly sought the Presidential nomination in 1988, but withdrew from the race before primaries began.

During the 1996 election he initially formed a presidential exploratory committee, but declined to formally enter the race.

Return to Government (2001–2006)

Rumsfeld was named Defense Secretary soon after President George W. Bush took office in 2001. He immediately announced a series of sweeping reviews intended to transform the U.S. military into a lighter force. These studies were led by Pentagon analyst Andrew Marshall.

Following the September 11, 2001 attacks, Rumsfeld led the military planning and execution of the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan and the 2003 invasion of Iraq. Rumsfeld pushed hard to send as small a force as possible to both conflicts, a concept codified as the Rumsfeld Doctrine.

Rumsfeld's plan resulted in a lightning invasion that took Baghdad in well under a month with very few American casualties. Many government buildings, plus major museums, electrical generation infrastructure, and even oil equipment were looted and vandalized during the transition from the fall of Saddam Hussein's regime to the establishment of the Coalition Provisional Authority. A violent insurrection began shortly after the occupation started.

After the German and French governments voiced opposition to invading Iraq, Rumsfeld labeled these countries as part of "Old Europe", implying that countries that supported the war were part of a newer, modern Europe.

He gave more press conferences than his predecessors. The BBC Radio 4 current affairs program Broadcasting House had been so taken by Rumsfeld's various remarks that it once held a regular slot called "The Donald Rumsfeld sound bite of the Week" in which they played his most amusing comment from that week.

Bush retained Rumsfeld after his 2004 presidential re-election. In December 2004, Rumsfeld came under fire after a "town-hall" meeting with U.S. troops where he responded to a soldier's comments about inferior military equipment by saying "you go to war with the Army you have, not the Army you want."

September 11, 2001

Rumsfeld's activities during the September 11, 2001 attacks were outlined in a Pentagon press briefing on September 15, 2001. Within three hours of the start of the first hijacking and two hours of American Airlines Flight 11 striking the World Trade Center, Rumsfeld raised the defense condition signaling of the United States offensive readiness to DEFCON 3; the highest it had been since the Arab-Israeli war in 1973.

On the morning of 9/11, Rumsfeld spoke at a Pentagon breakfast meeting, where he stated "sometime in the next two, four, six, eight, ten, twelve months there would be an event that would occur in the world that would be sufficiently shocking that it would remind people again how important it is to have a strong healthy defense department that contributes to -- That underpins peace and stability in our world. And that is what underpins peace and stability."

After the strike on the Pentagon, Rumsfeld went out to the parking lot to assist with rescue efforts. He stated; "I wanted to see what had happened. I wanted to see if people needed help. I went downstairs and helped for a bit with some people on stretchers. Then I came back up here and started -- I realized I had to get back up here and get at it."

Brigadier General Montague Winfield, at the National Military Command Center, said;"For 30 minutes we couldn't find" Rumsfeld. The Pentagon was attacked at approximately 9:40 a.m. and Defense Secretary Rumsfeld entered the National Military Command Center at 10:30.

Run-up to Iraq

Approximately five hours after the attack on the World Trade Center, Rumsfeld told aides he wanted the; "best info fast. Judge whether good enough hit S.H. [Saddam Hussein] at same time. Not only OBL [Osama bin Laden].

Rumsfeld also made many public statements regarding Iraq's alleged weapons of mass destruction, weapons which were never found.

Military decisions

Rumsfeld stirred controversy by quarreling for months with the CIA over who had the authority to fire Hellfire missiles from Predator drones, although according to The 9/11 Commission Report, the armed Predator was not ready for deployment until early 2002.

Daniel Benjamin and Steven Simon note:

These quarrels kept the Predator from being used against al Qaeda.... The delay infuriated the terrorist hunters at the CIA. One individual who was at the center of the action called this episode "typical" and complained that "Rumsfeld never missed an opportunity to fail to cooperate. The fact is, the Secretary of Defense is an obstacle. He has helped the terrorists.

Following September 11, 2001, Rumsfeld was in a meeting whose subject was the review of the Department of Defense's (Contingency) Plan in the event of a war with Iraq (U.S. Central Command OPLAN 1003-98). The plan (as it was then conceived) contemplated troop levels of up to 500,000, which Rumsfeld opined was far too many. Gordon and Trainor wrote:

As [General] Newbold outlined the plan ... it was clear that Rumsfeld was growing increasingly irritated. For Rumsfeld, the plan required too many troops and supplies and took far too long to execute. It was, Rumsfeld declared, the "product of old thinking and the embodiment of everything that was wrong with the military."

[T]he Plan ... reflected long-standing military principles about the force levels that were needed to defeat Iraq, control a population of more than 24 million, and secure a nation the size of California with porous borders. Rumsfeld's numbers, in contrast, seemed to be pulled out of thin air. He had dismissed one of the military's long-standing plans, and suggested his own force level without any of the generals raising a cautionary flag.

In a September 2007 interview with The Daily Telegraph, General Mike Jackson, the head of the British army during the invasion, criticised Rumsfeld's plans for the occupation as "intellectually bankrupt", adding that Rumsfeld is "one of those most responsible for the current situation in Iraq", and that he felt that "the US approach to combating global terrorism is 'inadequate' and too focused on military might rather than nation-building and diplomacy.

In Rumsfeld's final television interview as Secretary of Defense, he responded to a question by Brit Hume as to whether he pressed General Tommy Franks to lower his request for 400,000 troops for the war by stating:

Absolutely not. That's a mythology

Rumsfeld told Hume that Franks ultimately decided against such a troop level.

Role in US public relations effort

An April 2006 memo lists instructions to Pentagon staff including:
"Keep elevating the threat".... "Talk about Somalia, the Philippines etc. Make the American people realise they are surrounded in the world by violent extremists

As Secretary of Defense, Rumsfeld was deliberate in crafting the public message from the Department of Defense. People will "rally" to the word "sacrifice," Rumsfeld noted after a meeting. "They are looking for leadership. Sacrifice = Victory." In May 2004, Rumsfeld considered whether to redefine the war on terrorism as a fight against "worldwide insurgency." He advised aides "to test what the results could be" if the war on terrorism were renamed. Rumsfeld also ordered specific public Pentagon attacks and responses to US newspaper columns that reported the negative aspects of the war, which he often personally reviewed before being sent.

In October 2003, Rumsfeld personally approved a secret Pentagon "roadmap" on public relations, which calls for "boundaries" between information operations abroad and the news media at home, but provides for no such limits. The Roadmap advances a policy according to which as long as the US government does not intentionally target the American public, it does not matter that psychological operations, reaches the American public. The Roadmap acknowledges that "information intended for foreign audiences, including public diplomacy and PSYOP, increasingly is consumed by our domestic audience" but argues that "the distinction between foreign and domestic audiences becomes more a question of USG [U.S. government] intent rather than information dissemination practices.

Prisoner abuse

Rumsfeld defended the Bush administration's decision to detain enemy combatants without protection under the Third Geneva Convention. There was therefore a large amount of pressure from many American organizations and international bodies to enforce the Geneva Conventions. Because of this, critics would hold Rumsfeld personally responsible for the Abu Ghraib torture and prisoner abuse scandal. Rumsfeld himself said, "These events occurred on my watch as secretary of defense. I am accountable for them. US military investigations into the matters did not find him responsible for any wrongdoing.

In November 2006, the former U.S. Army Brigadier General Janis Karpinski, in charge of Abu Ghraib prison until early 2004, told Spain's El Pais newspaper she had seen a letter apparently signed by Rumsfeld that allowed civilian contractors to use techniques such as sleep deprivation during interrogation. "The methods consisted of making prisoners stand for long periods, sleep deprivation ... playing music at full volume, having to sit in uncomfortably ... Rumsfeld authorised these specific techniques." She said that this was contrary to the Geneva Convention and quoted from the same "Prisoners of war who refuse to answer may not be threatened, insulted, or exposed to any unpleasant or disadvantageous treatment of any kind". According to Karpinski, the handwritten signature was above his printed name and in the same handwriting in the margin was written: "Make sure this is accomplished". According to the February 16, 2008 edition of The Economist, Rumsfeld also wrote in a 2002 memo; "I stand for 8-10 hours a day. Why is standing (by prisoners) limited to four hours?" There have been no comments from either the Pentagon or U.S. Army spokespeople in Iraq on Karpinski's accusations.

Condolence letters

In December 2004, Rumsfeld was heavily criticized for using a signing machine instead of personally signing over 1000 letters of condolence to the families of soldiers killed in action in Iraq and Afghanistan. He promised to personally sign all letters in the future.

War critics

Rumsfeld has come under fire for his remarks at the American Legion's national convention when he accused critics of the Bush administration's Iraq and counter-terrorism policies. Also, Rumsfeld claimed that the administration's critics have "moral and intellectual confusion" about what threatens the nation's security and accused them of lacking the courage to fight back.

Ray McGovern

In May 2006, Rumsfeld was grilled about prewar intelligence during a question and answer session in Atlanta by Ray McGovern, who spent twenty-seven years as a CIA analyst. McGovern called on Rumsfeld "to be up front with the American people." He accused Rumsfeld of lying before the war, and Rumsfeld responded, "I haven’t lied. I did not lie then. Colin Powell didn't lie... They gave the world their honest opinion. It appears that there were not weapons of mass destruction there." McGovern replied, quoting Rumsfeld's 2003 appearance on ABC's This Week, "You said you knew where they were, 'near Tikrit, near Baghdad, and northeast, south and west of there.' Those were your words." The session was aired on national television and garnered brief media attention.

Calls for resignation

In an unprecedented move in modern US history, eight retired generals and admirals called for Rumsfeld to resign in early 2006 in what was called the "Generals Revolt", accusing him of "abysmal" military planning and lack of strategic competence. Rumsfeld rebuffed these criticisms, stating that "out of thousands and thousands of admirals and generals, if every time two or three people disagreed we changed the secretary of defense of the United States, it would be like a merry-go-round. Commentator Pat Buchanan reports that "Washington Post columnist David Ignatius, who travels often to Iraq and supports the war, says that the generals' and admirals' views mirror those of 75 percent of the officers in the field, and probably more. Bush responded to the criticism by stating that Rumsfeld is "exactly what is needed, and also defended him in his controversial decider remark.


On November 1, 2006, President Bush stated he would stand by Rumsfeld as defense secretary for the length of his term as president. Rumsfeld wrote a resignation letter dated November 6, and, per the stamp on the letter, Bush saw it on Election Day, November 7. In the elections, the House and the Senate shifted to Democratic control. After the elections, on November 8, Bush announced Rumsfeld would resign his position as Secretary of Defense. Many Republicans were unhappy with the delay, believing they would have won more votes if voters had known Rumsfeld was resigning.

Bush nominated Robert Gates for the position. At a press conference announcing the resignation of Rumsfeld and the nomination of Gates, Bush remarked, "America is safer and the world is more secure because of the service and the leadership of Donald Rumsfeld.

On December 18, 2006, Rumsfeld's resignation took effect and Gates was sworn in as his successor. One of his last actions as defense secretary was to pay a surprise visit to Iraq on December 10, 2006 to bid farewell to the United States military serving in Iraq.

Including his time serving as the 13th Secretary of Defense under President Ford from 1975 to 1977, Rumsfeld is the second-longest-serving Secretary of Defense in history, falling nine days short of becoming the longest-serving Pentagon chief (after the Vietnam-era Secretary of Defense, Robert McNamara).

In a farewell ceremony on December 16, 2006, Rumsfeld's long-time political collaborator Vice President Dick Cheney, who worked with him in the Ford administration, called the secretary "the finest secretary of defense this nation has ever had."

Post-resignation activities (2006–present)

In the months after his resignation, Rumsfeld toured the New York publishing houses in preparation for a potential memoir. Such a book would reportedly be used by Rumsfeld to justify the military strategy used in Iraq under his watch. An agreement on a book deal has not been announced.

In May 2007, Time magazine reported that Rumsfeld was in the early stages of establishing an educational foundation that would provide fellowships to talented individuals from the private sector who wanted to serve for some time in government. Rumsfeld would finance the foundation.

In September 2007, Rumsfeld received a one-year appointment as a fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University, joining (among others) retired Army Gen. John P. Abizaid, former commander of US forces in Iraq, and fellow conservatives George Shultz and Newt Gingrich. He will participate in the institution's new task force studying post-September 11 ideology and non-state terror.


Alleged torture

Civil actions

On March 1, 2005, the American Civil Liberties Union and Human Rights First filed a lawsuit against Rumsfeld in a federal court in Illinois on behalf of eight detainees who they say were subjected to torture and abuse by U.S. forces. A federal judge dismissed the charges against Rumsfeld citing the legal precedent that U.S. Government officials cannot be held personally responsible for actions committed while in office.

On December 18, 2006, U.S. citizen Donald Vance filed suit against Rumsfeld and the U.S. government alleging illegal incarceration and torture he endured in Iraq, including violation of habeas corpus rights. Vance, a former U.S. Navy sailor, went to Iraq as a civilian security-contractor for Shield Group Security (SGS). When Vance felt he was in grave danger, U.S. forces retrieved him from the Red Zone but subsequently detained him without charges for 97 days at Camp Cropper. As of early 2008, the case had not proceeded past the evidentiary stage

Criminal charges sought

A group of activists, spearheaded by the U.S.-based Center for Constitutional Rights, has sought to bring criminal charges against Rumsfeld twice in Germany, at least once in France , Sweden and Argentina, and has indicated an intention to do so in Spain.. The accusation is of command responsibility for alleged human rights violations committed by American forces under his direction against detainees in the War on Terrorism, or of giving improper legal advice leading to the same. The activists have also pursued former CIA Director George Tenet, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, Lieutenant General Ricardo Sanchez, then-Undersecretary of Defense for Intelligence Stephen Cambone, former Assistant Attorneys General Jay Bybee and Michael Yoo, lawyers William James Haynes II and David Addington, and numerous lower-ranking military officers. The suits in Germany and France were rejected by local prosecutors.

The city council of Berkeley, California has endorsed the war crimes complaint from Germany.

Portrayals in Fiction and Popular Media

He is portrayed by actor Scott Glenn in Oliver Stone's film W., a film based on George W. Bush.

Electoral history

Illinois' 13th congressional district, 1962 (Republican primary):

Illinois' 13th congressional district, 1962:

Illinois' 13th congressional district, 1964:

Illinois' 13th congressional district, 1966:

Illinois' 13th congressional district, 1968:

United States Secretary of Defense (Senate confirmation), 1975:

  • Yea - 95 (97.94%)
  • Nay - 2 (2.06%)

1976 Republican National Convention (Vice Presidential tally):

1980 Republican National Convention (Vice Presidential tally):

United States Secretary of Defense (Senate confirmation]], 2001:

  • Yea - 100 (100.00%)


Affiliation history

Institutional affiliations

Government posts, panels, and commissions

Corporate connections and business interests


Intellectual heritage

See also


External links



  • White House Biography
  • Department of Defense Biography
  • Rumsfeld's War: The Untold Story of America's Anti-Terrorist Commander by Rowan Scarborough (Regnery Publishing, 2004) ISBN 0-89526-069-7
  • Rumsfeld: A Personal Portrait by Midge Decter (Regan Books, 2003) ISBN 0-06-056091-6
  • The Rumsfeld Way: The Leadership Wisdom of a Battle-Hardened Maverick by Jeffrey A. Krames (McGraw-Hill, 2002) ISBN 0-07-140641-7
  • Rumsfeld: His Rise, Fall, and Catastrophic Legacy by Andrew Cockburn (Scribners, 2007) ISBN 1-4165-3574-8

Documentary video

Articles profiling Rumsfeld

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