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Donald Rumsfeld
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Donald Rumsfeld

Donald Henry Rumsfeld (born July 9, 1932) is the current Secretary of Defense of the United States, since 2001, under President George W. Bush. His current term of office is as the 21st Secretary of Defense, and he is the oldest person to have held that position. He served as the 13th Secretary of Defense from 1975 to 1977, making him also the youngest person to have held the position, under President Gerald Ford. Rumsfeld has also had a long career in private industry and public service.

Table of contents
1 Life
3 External links


Born in Chicago, Illinois, of German descent, Donald Rumsfeld attended Princeton University on scholarship (AB, 1954) and served in the United States Navy (1954-57) as a Naval aviator. He went to Washington, DC, in 1957, during the Eisenhower Administration, to serve as Administrative Assistant to a Congressman from Ohio. After a stint with an investment banking firm, he was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives from Illinois in 1962, at the age of 30, and was re-elected in 1964, 1966, and 1968.

Rumsfeld resigned from Congress in 1969 during 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); Counselor to the President, Director of the Economic Stabilization Program; and member of the President's Cabinet (1971-1972).

In 1973, he left Washington, DC, to serve as U.S. ambassador to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) in Brussels, Belgium (1973-1974).

In August 1974, he was called back to Washington, DC, to serve in the Ford Administration successively as Chairman of the transition to the Presidency of Gerald R. Ford (1974); White House Chief of Staff member of the President's Cabinet (1974-1975); and the 13th U.S. Secretary of Defense (1975-1977). In 1977, Rumsfeld was awarded the nation's highest civilian award, the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

's special envoy to the Middle East, meeting with Saddam Hussein during a visit to Baghdad, Iraq in 1983. Video frame capture, see the complete video]]

From 1977 to 1985 Rumsfeld served as Chief Executive Officer, President, and then Chairman of G.D. Searle & Co., a worldwide pharmaceutical company. (It was under Rumsfeld that Searle got FDA approval for the artificial sweetener aspartame, after many years of rejection.) The successful turnaround there earned him awards as the Outstanding Chief Executive Officer in the Pharmaceutical Industry from the Wall Street Transcript (1980) and Financial World (1981).

From 1985 to 1990 he was in private business. During his business career, Rumsfeld continued public service in a variety of posts, including:

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. Until being sworn in as the 21st Secretary of Defense, Rumsfeld served as Chairman of Gilead Sciences, Inc. He was also chair of the RAND Corporation.

During his period as Reagan's Special Envoy to the Middle East, Rumsfeld was the main conduit for crucial American military intelligence, hardware and strategic advice to Saddam Hussein, then fighting Iran in the Iran-Iraq war. During this period, US policy supported Iraq, believing it to be a useful buffer against Iran's new religious government, although the United States had originally been hesitant to work with a Soviet client state. When he visited on December 19-20, 1983, he and Saddam Hussein had a 90 minute discussion which 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. Not mentioned was Iraqi production and use of chemical weapons. The Iranian government had cited several Iraqi air and ground chemical weapons attacks in the preceding two months, and the Iranian news agency had reported the use of chemical weapons as early as 1981. The US State Department first condemned the use of chemical weapons in the war on March 5, 1984, two days before the ICRC confirmed Iranian allegations.

Rumsfeld's civic activities included service as 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.

Rumsfeld was active in the Project for the New American Century, whose goal is to promote American global leadership and which in September 2000 proposed to invade Iraq.

, and Secretary of State Colin Powell listen to President George W. Bush speak.]]

As Secretary of Defense under George W. Bush, Rumsfeld was frequently in the public eye as he headed the defense department during the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan and the 2003 invasion of Iraq. His actions have been characterized by his aggressive personality, outspoken opinions, and unique sense of humor. His press conferences were frequent, and the Secretary has developed a strong love-hate relationship with many American reporters.

Due to the stance of the German and French governments against a war in Iraq, Rumsfeld labeled these countries in an offhand remark as part of "Old Europe" (implying that those European countries which supported the war effort were part of a newer, modern Europe). The label gained instant popularity by a wide variety of commentators. In separate remarks, he named the countries which would not be willing to support the war effort at all as Cuba, Libya and Germany. Both remarks were regarded as offensive by the respective governments. On February 27, 2003, Spanish prime minister José María Aznar personally requested of George W. Bush that he discourage Rumsfeld from speaking about European defense policy because his remarks were so widely perceived as counterproductive and inflammatory. Aznar indicated that Colin Powell would be better perceived.

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 Soundbite of the Week" in which they played his most amusing comment from that week. Rumsfeld himself is said to have found the slot "hilarious." Rumsfeld's penchant for talking with his hands also made him the butt of jokes, including a series portraying him as a martial arts master.

In May 2004, Rumsfeld came under especially severe criticism when photographs of abusive treatment of prisoners in Abu Ghraib (prison) in Iraq came to light. Many senior Democratic leaders in Congress called for his resignation. A report by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) listing abuses in detail, as early as October 2003, was given to the U.S. Army and briefed to high ranking members of the Bush administration by the President of the ICRD during a meeting at the White House. [1] In a statement to the Senate Armed Services Committee, Rumsfeld stated that the US army and government had only been informed about the allegations in January, 2004. [1] The abuses were found to be "widespread and routine", [1] also in other US prisons such as those of Guantanamo and Afghanistan. [1]

During a visit to the prison in May 2004, he stated, "The people who engaged in abuses will be brought to justice. The world will see how a free and democratic society functions." [1]

On 17 June 2004, Rumsfeld admitted during a news conference that he had personally ordered two prisoners to be concealled from the International Committee of the Red Cross, one at Camp Cropper, at the instigation of CIA chief George Tenet - whose resignation was effective 11 July 2004 - in apparent violation of the Geneva Convention. (BBC) (NYT)


President Isaias Afewerki shake hands in Eritrea]]

Among the Pentagon press corps, Rumsfeld has a reputation as a master of double speak. There is a common misconception that, in such instances, Rumsfeld is stumbling blindly through uncharted sentences; however, in many cases he answers questions this way intentionally, and for a laugh. Therefore, specific context should be considered with each quote. (See also: Rumsfeld poetry)

Henry Kissinger is reputed to have said "Donald Rumsfeld is the most ruthless man I have ever met… and I mean that as a compliment."[1]

External links



Quotations and humor

Preceded by:
James R. Schlesinger
United States Secretary of Defense Succeeded by:
Harold Brown
Preceded by:
William S. Cohen
Succeeded by:
(in office)
Preceded by:
Alexander Haig
White House Chief of Staff Succeeded by:
Dick Cheney