A former defense secretary, who was the architect of the United States’ wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, Donald Rumsfeld, is dead.
He was 88, his family said in a statement released Wednesday.
“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’s statement read.
“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.”
The late Republican power broker who served twice as defense secretary is best remembered for masterminding the U.S. military attack on Afghanistan that led to the toppling of the Taliban on the backdrop of the terrorist attacks of September 2001.
He followed this two years later by overseeing the U.S. invasion of Iraq, a move aimed at overthrowing then-Iraqi President Saddam Hussein.
The Chicago-born graduate of Princeton University, where he was a collegiate wrestler and commissioned as a U.S. Navy aviator and flight instructor, became the North American nation’s 13th defense secretary in 1975 under former President Gerald Ford, the country’s youngest defense secretary in history. Prior, he was the White House chief of staff and he served as former President Richard Nixon’s ambassador to NATO.
After a 23 years stint in the private sector, Mr Rumsfeld was again appointed by former President George Bush’s administration to become the country’s 21st secretary of defense in January 2001.
Mr Rumsfeld resigned from the role as the head of Pentagon, the U.S. headquarters of the defense department, the country’s largest federal agency, in 2006, and was replaced with Robert Gates.
His leadership of America’s military wars in the Middle East earned praise at first, but it was later faulted as critics accused the troops of human rights abuses against Iraqi prisoners detained at Abu Ghraib prison in Baghdad.
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