BREAKING NEWS: Former defense secretary Donald Rumsfeld dead at 88


Former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, who served two presidents and helped plan the long-running second Iraq War before stepping down under pressure, has died at the age of 88.

Rumsfeld served as Defense Secretary under Gerald Ford and George W. Bush and was central to the plans involving the invasion into Iraq and Afghanistan.

He died in Taos, New Mexico, according to his family. 

More to follow 

Former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld has died at the age of 88

The Princeton-educated Rumsfeld drew global attention for his televised briefings during the Iraq War, as when he spoke about weapons of mass destruction in 2002. 

‘As we know, there are known knowns; there are things we know we know. We also know there are known unknowns,’ he pontificated.

Before the 2016 election, he told DailyMail.com he intended to vote for Donald Trump, even as many members of the defense and political establishment broke away from the real estate mogul and reality TV star. 

Rumsfeld said it was ‘not a close call.’

But days before the Capitol riot, he joined other living Defense Secretaries in signing an op-ed in the Washington Post warning against involving the military in an election dispute. 

Donald Rumsfeld in 1969, when he served as director of U. S. Office of Economic Opportunity

Donald Rumsfeld in 1969, when he served as director of U. S. Office of Economic Opportunity

Rumsfeld became renowned for his press briefings during the Iraq War. Here he gives one in 1976 during his first tenure as Pentagon chief

Rumsfeld became renowned for his press briefings during the Iraq War. Here he gives one in 1976 during his first tenure as Pentagon chief

Chief of Staff Donald Rumsfeld (L) and President Gerald R. Ford look over notes on the presidential helicopter Marine One in 1974

Chief of Staff Donald Rumsfeld (L) and President Gerald R. Ford look over notes on the presidential helicopter Marine One in 1974

Portrait of US President Ronald Reagan (1911 - 2004) poses with the members of the President's Commission on Strategic Forces and their Special Counselors in in the White House's Cabinet Room, Washington DC, February 9, 1983. Pictured are, seated from left, James Woolsey, Dr James Schlesinger, chairman Brent Scowcroft, President Reagan, Dr John Deutsch, Thomas Reed, and Dr William Perry; and standing, from left, John Lyons, Vice Admiral Levering Smith, US Navy (Retired), Lloyd Cutler, Richard Helms, Dr Henry Kissinger, Donald Rumsfeld, Melvin Laird, Nicholas Brady, Executive Secretary of the Commission Dr Marvin Atkins, and Consultant to the Commission for Public Affairs Herbert Hetu

Portrait of US President Ronald Reagan (1911 – 2004) poses with the members of the President’s Commission on Strategic Forces and their Special Counselors in in the White House’s Cabinet Room, Washington DC, February 9, 1983. Pictured are, seated from left, James Woolsey, Dr James Schlesinger, chairman Brent Scowcroft, President Reagan, Dr John Deutsch, Thomas Reed, and Dr William Perry; and standing, from left, John Lyons, Vice Admiral Levering Smith, US Navy (Retired), Lloyd Cutler, Richard Helms, Dr Henry Kissinger, Donald Rumsfeld, Melvin Laird, Nicholas Brady, Executive Secretary of the Commission Dr Marvin Atkins, and Consultant to the Commission for Public Affairs Herbert Hetu

‘Each of us swore an oath to support and defend the Constitution against all enemies, foreign and domestic. We did not swear it to an individual or a party,’ Rumsfeld and the other former Defense secretaries wrote.    

‘Efforts to involve the U.S. armed forces in resolving election disputes would take us into dangerous, unlawful and unconstitutional territory. Civilian and military officials who direct or carry out such measures would be accountable, including potentially facing criminal penalties, for the grave consequences of their actions on our republic.’

Rumsfeld’s family mourned him in a statement. ‘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 father,’ the family wrote. ‘At 88 he was surrounded by family in his beloved Taos, New Mexico.’ 

‘History may remember him for his extraordinary accomplishments over six decades or 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 statement did not provide a specific cause of death or a time that it occurred.  

Rumsfeld became a divisive figure during the Iraq War, where the initial battlefield successes in 2003 soon gave way to an insurgency that led to mounting U.S. and allied casualties. The Abu Ghraib prisoner abuse scandal would follow, damaging the U.S. reputation in a country it was seeking to refashion.

The U.S.-led invasion with a ‘coalition of the willing’ led to the toppling of dictator Saddam Hussein, but prompted bloody secular infighting and in insurgency that led to repeated attacks on U.S. troops, with a rising death toll.  

He became a politically polarizing figure, finally stepping down after Democrats retook the House in 2006 following elections where the Iraq war was a top issue. Top political and military figures had called for his ouster. He served six years in the post on his second tour at the Pentagon. 



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