Former Defense Sec. Donald Rumsfeld Dies At Age 88

The New York Times reports:

Donald H. Rumsfeld, the secretary of defense for Presidents Gerald R. Ford and George W. Bush, who presided over America’s Cold War strategies in the 1970s and, in the new world of terrorism decades later, the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, died on Tuesday at his home in Taos, N.M. He was 88. The cause was multiple myeloma, said Keith Urbahn, a spokesman for the family.

Encores are hardly rare in the Washington merry-go-round, but Mr. Rumsfeld had the distinction of being the only defense chief to serve two nonconsecutive terms: 1975 to 1977 under Mr. Ford, and 2001 to 2006 under Mr. Bush. He also was the youngest, at 43, and the oldest, at 74, to hold the post — first in an era of Soviet-American nuclear perils, then in an age of subtler menace by terrorists and rogue states.

The Washington Post reports:

Mr. Rumsfeld’s political prominence stretched back to the 1960s and included stints as a rebellious young Republican congressman, favored counselor to President Richard M. Nixon, right-hand man to President Gerald Ford and Middle East envoy for President Ronald Reagan. He also scored big in business, helping to pioneer such products as NutraSweet and high-definition television and earning millions of dollars salvaging large troubled firms.

Hailed initially for leading the U.S. military to war in the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, Mr. Rumsfeld’s handling of the Iraq War eventually led to his downfall. Widely criticized for poorly planning the invasion’s aftermath, he was slow to recognize the development of an insurgency, draft an effective strategy for countering it and set clear policy for the treatment of prisoners.