Donald Rumsfeld, Architect of Iraq War, Dies at 88
Iraqi President Saddam Hussein (right) greets Donald Rumsfeld (left), then special envoy of US President Ronald Reagan, in Baghdad, December 20, 1983. (Iraqi state television)

Donald Rumsfeld, Architect of Iraq War, Dies at 88

Former US Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, known as the architect of the Iraq War, has died. Rumsfeld died at his home in New Mexico at the age of 88, his family announced on Wednesday.

Rumsfeld, the only person to serve twice as defense secretary, held the position in 1975-77 under President Gerald Ford and again in 2001-2006 for President George W. Bush.

He was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor, in 1977 by Ford.

After leaving government work in 1977, he became president and chief executive of G.D. Searle & Company, the pharmaceutical maker. During his tenure there he turned the struggling company around, boosted by its development of the artificial sweetener NutraSweet, and reaped the benefits in 1985 when the company was sold.

Rumsfeld served for several months as President Ronald Reagan’s special envoy to the Middle East.

He later was chief executive for General Instrument Corporation, and later was chairman of Gilead Sciences, the developer of Tamiflu.

In the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks on the United States, Rumsfeld as Pentagon chief coordinated the invasion of Afghanistan, where the Taliban had sheltered some of the terrorists involved in the attack. The US led an invasion of Iraq in 2003, with a stated goal to rid the country of weapons of mass destruction, which were never found.  The US currently is withdrawing its remaining troops from Afghanistan, 20 years after it first invaded.

Rumsfeld stepped down in December 2006, after Democrats gained control in a midterm election that saw voters frustrated by the continuing war and the news that US troops had abused detainees at Iraq’s Abu Ghraib prison.

Since 2008, Rumsfeld has headed the Rumsfeld Foundation to promote public service and to work with charities that provide services and support for military families and wounded veterans.

Israel’s Defense Minister Benny Gantz said in a statement that Rumsfeld “was a professional in the field of security and a friend of Israel. On behalf of the Israel Ministry of Defense, I extend my condolences to his family and loved ones.”

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