Donald Rumsfeld

From Academic Kids

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Donald Rumsfeld

Donald Henry Rumsfeld (born July 9, 1932) is the current Secretary of Defense of the United States, since January 20, 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 under President Gerald Ford as the 13th Secretary of Defense from 1975 to 1977, making him also the youngest person to have held the job. Rumsfeld has also had a long career in private industry and public service.

Rumsfeld has been married to his wife Joyce since 1954. They have three children and six grandchildren. He was selected as one of the world's sexiest men in the December 2, 2002 issue of People magazine.

Critics of the war in Iraq accuse him of being a war criminal.



Nixon Administration

Born in Evanston, Illinois, of German descent (his grandfather was originally from Bremen in Northern Germany), Donald Rumsfeld graduated from New Trier High School and attended Princeton University on scholarship (BA, 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 investment banking firm A. G. Becker from 1960 to 1962, he was elected to the United States 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).

Ford Administration

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Secretary Rumsfeld laughing at the Cabinet table with President Gerald Ford in 1975.

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). During this period he oversaw the transition to an all volunteer military and was instrumental in increasing the power of the military within the administration and at the expense of the CIA and Henry Kissinger. This was accomplished by promulgating the view that the Soviet Union was increasing defense spending and pursuing secret weapons programs, and that the proper response was a re-escalation of the arms race. This view was in direct contrast to CIA and generally accepted reports on the declining state of the Soviet economy, and the earlier success of Richard Nixon in establishing Detente (referring to a thawing of the Cold War) with the Soviet Union.

As part of the Ford administration, Rumsfeld helped formulate the White House response to the death via LSD of CIA scientist Frank Olson. Olson, a participant in the controversial MKULTRA project, was determined to be a security risk after developing moral qualms about his work on mind control experiments, deciding to leave his government work and become a dentist. Unwittingly given LSD and apparently thrown to his death out a hotel window in 1953, the circumstances of Olson's death remained a mystery to his family until they were unearthed by the congressional Church Committee investigation into the CIA's domestic activities. In response to their threat to sue the United States government, White House staffers Rumsfeld and Dick Cheney reportedly warned President Gerald Ford that a lawsuit concerning Frank Olson could result in the public disclosure of additional and related measures taken in the interest of national security that could extend popular dissatisfaction with the intelligence community and federal government. An out of court settlement was offered, along with personal meetings between the Olson family and the White House. The White House maintained, however, that Olson's death was a suicide, a detail that remained unchallenged until an exhumation of Olson's body suggested the scientist had been murdered. The exhumation was inspired by the Olson family's discovery of a CIA manual on interrogation that recommended drugging a subject before throwing them out a window. The full story was reported in late 2004 by The Baltimore Sun in a story reprinted in papers around the country, including here ( in the San Francisco Chronicle.

In 1976, a military recruit in New Jersey died from a flu that experts speculated might be the "swine flu". At Rumsfeld's urging, the Ford administration quickly produced and distributed huge amounts of vaccine. Some batches were contaminated. 600 people sickened and 52 died. The program was stopped and nobody got swine flu.

In 1977, Rumsfeld was awarded the nation's highest civilian award, the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

Private career

From 1977 to 1985 Rumsfeld served as Chief Executive Officer, President, and then Chairman of G.D. Searle & Company, a worldwide pharmaceutical company whose products included, among others, the oral contraceptive pill Enovid. It was under Rumsfeld that Searle got FDA approval for the controversial artificial sweetener, aspartame. During his tenure at Searle, Rumsfeld reduced the number of employees in the company by around 60%. The financial turnaround of the company 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 US$12 million from the sale of Searle to Monsanto.

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

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  • 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);
  • 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) and
  • Chairman of the U.S. Commission to Assess National Security Space Management and Organization (2000).

[[Image:Donald_saddam.jpg|150px|frame|Rumsfeld, at the time Ronald Reagan'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 (

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.

Reagan Administration

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.

[[Image:RicePowellBushRumsfeld.jpg|thumb|300px|Rumsfeld, then-National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice, and then-Secretary of State Colin Powell listen to President George W. Bush speak.]]

Rumsfeld was a founder and active member of the Project for the New American Century, whose goal is to "promote American global leadership" and which in September 2000 proposed to invade Iraq. He signed the 1998 PNAC Letter ( sent to President William Jefferson Clinton advocating the use of force in Iraq to "protect our vital interests in the gulf".

While Rumsfeld was on the board of directors of ABB, the global technology group, they issued a press release on January 20, 2000 that said they have signed contracts to deliver equipment and services for two nuclear power stations at Kumho, on the east coast of North Korea. The deal was part of the 1994 U.S.-North Korea nuclear pact. He has not made any public statements explaining the arrangement.

Bush Administration

Appointed defense secretary soon after President George W. Bush took office in 2001, Rumsfeld immediately announced a series of sweeping reviews intended to plot the transformation of the U.S. military into a lighter, more nimble force. These studies, led by Pentagon analyst Andrew Marshall, drew widespread resistance from the military services and members of Congress, who worried that Rumsfeld would cancel pet projects. (Eventually, he succeeded in killing the Army's Crusader howitzer and its Comanche armed scout helicopter.) Media reports in the summer of 2001 ran under headlines like "Will Rumsfeld Be The First Of Bush's Cabinet To Go?"

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Donald Rumsfeld with Dick Cheney

That changed with the military operations launched after the Sept. 11 terror 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 Iraq, 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. Critics complained that were almost no preparations for the occupation of Iraq that followed. Many government buildings, plus major museums, electrical generation infrastructure, and even oil equipment were looted during the transition from the fall of Saddam Husein regime to the establishment of the Coalition Provisional Authority. Critics further complained that there was noplan to deal with the existing Iraqi armed forces. They were disbanded, leaving hundreds of thousands of armed and unemployed men in the country. A violent insurrection began shortly after the occupation began.

It has been argued that Rumsfeld should be held responsible for war crimes committed during the invasion by the U.S. military at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq. A war crimes complaint filed against him in Germany by the Center for Constitutional Rights and was not accepted.scraps Munich visit over war probe ( Eight men who say they were tortured at Abu Graib filed a federal suit against Rumsfeld in his home state of Illinois.

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

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Donald Rumsfeld

He gives 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 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.

Bush retained Rumsfeld after his re-election, which raised eyebrows among Democrats and some Republicans. During a 2004 meeting with US troops in Iraq, Rumsfeld responded to a soldier's comments about inferior military equipment by saying "you go to war with the army you have," a comment some characterized as needlessly cold. The response to the question lasted for about an hour and the soldiers present gave Rumsfeld a standing ovation after the speech. There was also criticism about his use of a signature machine to sign the condolence letters to the families of the soldiers killed in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Donald Rumsfeld and  President  shake hands in Eritrea
Donald Rumsfeld and Eritrean President Isaias Afewerki shake hands in Eritrea


  • "We take the world like you find it; and Israel is a small state with a small population. It’s a democracy and it exists in a neighborhood that in many -- over a period of time has opined from time to time that they’d prefer it not be there and they’d like it to be put in the sea. And Israel has opined that it would prefer not to get put in the sea, and as a result, over a period of decades, it has arranged itself so it hasn’t been put in the sea."
  • "Our task, your task... is to try to connect the dots before something happens. People say, 'Well, where's the smoking gun?' Well, we don't want to see a smoking gun from a weapon of mass destruction."
  • "Learn to say "I don't know." If used when appropriate, it will be often."
  • "If you are not criticized, you may not be doing much."
  • "Beware when any idea is promoted primarily because it is "bold, exciting, innovative, and new." There are many ideas that are "bold, exciting, innovative and new," but also foolish."
  • "(Cluster bombs are) being used on frontline al Qaeda and Taliban troops to try to kill them is why we're using them, to be perfectly blunt."
  • "I'm hopeful that some will surrender. I suspect some won't, and I suspect the result from that will be that the opposition forces will kill them."
  • "I think we ought to have a new rule: You can ask two questions, and then we can pick the one we want to answer."
  • "Charlie, the answer to the question "Is he alive or dead" -- the answer is yes, he is alive or dead. (Laughter.)"(referring to bin Laden)
  • "...And of course, even a blind squirrel finds a nut once in a while."
  • "I mean, let's face it. They weren't exactly baking cookies in those caves." (In response to why U.S. bombers killed people hiding in caves.)
  • "I don't do diplomacy."
  • "You go to war with the army you have."
  • "Well, Dick, calibrate me, but the first thing I'd say is I don't believe you have the war plan -- (laughter) -- a fact which does not make me unhappy. (Laughter.)"
  • "Reports that say that something hasn't happened are always interesting to me, because as we know, there are known knowns; 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."
  • "Go massive. Sweep it all up. Things related and not." (Sept. 11, 2001)

Affiliation History

Institutional Affiliations

Government Posts/Panels/Commissions

Corporate Connections/Business Interests


See also

External links

  • Works
    • What the Secretary Has Been Saying ( official speeches and transcripts
    • Rumsfeld's Rules ( advice on government, business and life, January 29, 2001
    • Strategic Imperatives in East Asia by Donald Rumsfeld (Heritage Foundation, 1998) ISBN B0006FCPRU
    • Donald Rumsfeld's Project Syndicate op/eds (
  • Biographies
    • 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 0895260697
    • Rumsfeld: A Personal Portrait by Midge Decter (Regan Books, 2003) ISBN 0060560916
    • The Rumsfeld Way: The Leadership Wisdom of a Battle-Hardened Maverick by Jeffrey A. Krames (McGraw-Hill, 2002) ISBN 0071406417
  • Directories
    • Looksmart - Donald Rumsfeld ( directory category
    • Yahoo! - Donald Rumsfeld ( directory category
  • Articles



Preceded by:
U.S. Representative of Illinois's 13th Congressional District
1963 – 1969
Succeeded by:
Phil Crane
Preceded by:
Alexander Haig
White House Chief of Staff
Succeeded by:
Dick Cheney
Preceded by:
James R. Schlesinger
Secretary of Defense
Succeeded by:
Harold Brown
Preceded by:
William S. Cohen
Secretary of Defense
2001 – present (a)
Succeeded by:
Preceded by:
John W. Snow
United States Presidential Line of Succession
Succeeded by:
Alberto Gonzales

Template:Succession footnote Template:End boxbg:Доналд Ръмсфелд da:Donald Rumsfeld de:Donald Rumsfeld fr:Donald Rumsfeld it:Donald Rumsfeld ms:Donald Rumsfeld nl:Donald Rumsfeld ja:ドナルド・ラムズフェルド no:Donald Rumsfeld


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