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July 1, 2021

Donald Rumsfeld — American Patriot

Secretary Rumsfeld was a Patriot of the first order, and his service to our nation is revered.

Former Secretary of Defense Donald Henry Rumsfeld has died.

The Illinois native was a Princeton graduate (political science) and Naval Aviator, before winning a seat in Congress in 1962 at age 30, where he would serve four terms.

He was the only person to hold the title of defense secretary twice, first under President Gerald Ford from 1975 to 1977 and then under George W. Bush from 2001 to 2006. Along the way he served as director of the Office of Economic Opportunity, adviser to Richard Nixon, NATO ambassador, and President Ford’s White House chief of staff. He would also serve as Ronald Reagan’s Middle East envoy, when he insisted our strategy needed to be to hit terrorists on their turf or they will hit us on our turf.

Rumsfeld was the youngest SecDef when serving Ford, and he noted in retrospect, “It was a simpler world — we had one major problem, the Soviet Union,” and its expanding reign of terror.

Between his years in public service, he also held CEO positions with G.D. Searle, General Instrument, and Gilead Sciences.

In 2001, as secretary of defense, after the 9/11 Islamist attack on our nation, he oversaw the launch of Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom in response to the Jihadistan threat. You may recall that after the Pentagon was struck, Rumsfeld rushed to the aid of the injured, carrying some to safety.

On the Bush administration’s response, he observed, “There was no roadmap available to the president or me on September 11th.” He oversaw the Bush administration strategy: “It is the policy to go after terrorists wherever they are and to go after countries that harbor terrorists.”

Rumsfeld acknowledged that this would necessarily be a long war: “This is a war that is going to be a long war, and it is going to take years … like the Cold War did.” At the time, Senator John McCain was asked if we would have to maintain a military presence in Iraq for 50 years. He responded, “Make it a hundred.” He was pilloried, but both he and Rumsfeld were and are correct. Pulling out of Afghanistan, as President Donald Trump declared we must do, is one thing. But maintaining, as we have argued, forward operating capabilities in Iraq is essential.

Rumsfeld took heat over two issues during his term. The first was the Democrat feeding frenzy over “controversial interrogation techniques” used on terrorists at Abu Ghraib prison. For the record, we did not then, nor do we now, consider those techniques “controversial.”

The second and much larger criticism concerned the failure to recover much evidence of Saddam Hussein’s WMD program, specifically components related to nuclear weapons of mass destruction.

In a February 2002 DoD briefing, Secretary Rumsfeld was asked a question about links between Iraq, (nuclear) weapons of mass destruction, and terrorist groups: “There are reports that there is no evidence of a direct link between Baghdad and some of these terrorist organizations.”

His response reflected both his intelligence and his handle on the complexities and challenges of national security threats: “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. And if one looks throughout the history of our country and other free countries, it is the latter category that tends to be the difficult ones.”

He would later observe more succinctly, “Simply because you do not have evidence that something exists does not mean that you have evidence that it doesn’t exist.”

On the subject of Iraq’s nuclear WMD and the absurd claims that Bush lied about WMD in order to start the war, we noted in 2004 that, according to our own well-placed intel source estimates, there was sufficient reason to believe that while the UN was stalling on entry into Iraq, Saddam shipped his nuclear WMD components through Syria to southern Lebanon’s heavily fortified Bekaa Valley. Indeed, former DIA Director Lt. Gen. James Clapper confirmed after the invasion, “There was clearly an effort to disperse, bury, and conceal certain equipment prior to inspections.” Clapper added that there was ample evidence in satellite imagery of convoys of trucks moving what were believed to be Saddam’s WMD out of the country.

The Bush/Rumsfeld efforts to stabilize the region took a long slide in 2009 with the arrival of Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, which empowered the rise of the Islamic State, a disastrous “nuke deal” with Iran, and an epic humanitarian crisis on the border with Syria and Jordan.

But to the credit of President Bush and Secretary Rumsfeld, there have been no further catastrophic jihadi terrorist attacks on our homeland — though localized Islamist attacks continue in the U.S. and worldwide.

In his retirement Donald Rumsfeld wrote an autobiography, Known and Unknown: A Memoir, and an outstanding book on leadership, Rumsfeld’s Rules: Leadership Lessons in Business, Politics, War, and Life.

Former SecDef Dick Cheney said of Rumsfeld, “He was the best and toughest boss I ever had. I guess you could say I was an early practitioner of Rumsfeld’s Rules. I learned from them. I taught them to others. And I came to regret it on the few occasions I violated them.”

Secretary Rumsfeld was a Patriot of the first order. He honored his oath “to support and defend” our Constitution with courage and integrity. He and his wife Joyce were married for 67 years. She often spoke of his strong faith. He died surrounded by family at age 88, survived by Joyce, three children and seven grandchildren.

Semper Vigilans Fortis Paratus et Fidelis
Pro Deo et Libertate — 1776

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