Former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld Dies at 88

June 30, 2021 by Dan McCue
Donald Rumsfeld

Donald Rumsfeld, the former defense secretary who ran the Pentagon when the U.S. launched wars against Iraq and Afghanistan, has died at the age of 88, his family announced Wednesday.

The cause was multiple myeloma, said Keith Urbahn, a spokesman for the family.

“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,” his family said.

“At 88, he was surrounded by family in his beloved Taos, New Mexico. 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,” his family added.

Rumsfeld had the distinction of being the only defense chief to serve two nonconsecutive terms: 1975 to 1977 under former President Gerald Ford, and 2001 to 2006 under former President George W. Bush. 

He also was the youngest, at 43, and the oldest, at 74, to hold the post — first in an era of Cold War, then in the far different post-Soviet world of terrorists and rogue states.

An often controversial figure known for his love of political infighting, Rumsfeld also had a gift for memorable comments that rivaled those of the late New York Yankee great Yogi Berra.

Among his most famous quotes:

“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.” 

“Simply because you do not have evidence that something exists does not mean that you have evidence that it doesn’t exist.”

“I believe what I said yesterday — I don’t know what I said, but that I know what I think — and I assume it’s what I said.”

“Learn to say, ‘I don’t know.’ If used when appropriate, it will be often.” 

“I would not say that the future is necessarily less predictable than the past. I think the past was not predictable when it started.”

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