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Donald Rumsfeld, The Controversial Architect Of The Iraq War, Has Died

Updated June 30, 2021 at 4:27 PM ET

Donald Rumsfeld, the longtime military thinker and Washington powerbroker who served twice as secretary of defense, has died. He was 88 years old.

Rumsfeld's family confirmed his death in a Twitter post.

"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 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."

Rumsfeld holds the distinction of being both the youngest and oldest person to serve at helm of the Defense Department.

Notoriously hawkish and a child of the neoconservative movement that found considerable momentum in the George W. Bush White House, Rumsfeld is perhaps best remembered as one of the key architects of the decades-long wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

His post-9/11 strategy has become one of the hallmarks of U.S. foreign policy, and the bloody trail left in the wake of the 2000s invasions have left some to remember him as a skilled statesmen, while others have blamed these interventions as responsible for destabilizing the region and roping American soldiers into seemingly endless war.

President George W. Bush, under whom Rumsfeld served his second defense term, eulogized his longtime ally on Wednesday.

"On the morning of September 11, 2001, Donald Rumsfeld ran to the fire at the Pentagon to assist the wounded and ensure the safety of survivors. For the next five years, he was in steady service as a wartime secretary of defense — a duty he carried out with strength, skill, and honor," Bush said in a statement.

"In a busy and purposeful life, Don Rumsfeld was a Naval officer, a member of Congress, a distinguished cabinet official in several administrations, a respected business leader — and, with his beloved wife, the co-founder of a charitable foundation. Later in life, he even became an app developer. All his life, he was good-humored and big-hearted, and he treasured his family above all else. Laura and I are very sorry to learn of Don's passing, and we send our deepest sympathy to Joyce and their children. We mourn an exemplary public servant and a very good man."

Rumsfeld resigned as defense secretary in 2006 as Americans expressed outrage over the Iraq War, which was fast becoming a foreign policy liability for the Bush administration.

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