Donald Rumsfeld was a four-term congressman from Illinois, served twice as secretary of defense, and held various other positions in the Nixon and Ford administrations.
He was also president of the pharmaceutical company G.D. Searle, ceo of General Instrument, and chairman of Gilead Sciences. Searle became profitable due to the discovery of aspartame during his tenure, and is believed to have earned him $12 million when the company was sold to Monsanto in 1985. Gilead Sciences developed Tamiflu , used in the treatment of bird flu.
Rumsfeld graduated from Princeton and served in the Navy in the mid-1950s as a pilot and flight instructor.
During the Nixon administration he worked as director of the Office of Economic Opportunity in the Nixon administration and hired Dick Cheney to serve under him. Nixon later named Rumsfeld counselor to the president, director of the Economic Stabilization Program, and ambassador to NATO. Nixon said on tape, “at least Rummy is tough enough” and “He’s a ruthless little bastard, you can be sure of that.”
Rumsfeld served as transition chairman for the Ford administration and then as Ford’s chief of staff before being named the youngest secretary of defense. He oversaw the transition to an all-volunteer military, an idea he was introduced to at seminars at the University of Chicago when he was a congressman. He also oversaw the development of cruise missiles, the B-1 bomber, and a major naval shipbuilding program.
Ford awarded Rumsfeld the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1977, the nation’s highest civilian award.
Rumsfeld returned to public service from the private sector when George W. Bush named him secretary of defense, the oldest person to hold the position. Bush directed him to modernize the military and turn it into a lighter fighting force. He reorganized the global command structure.
He lead and executed the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq after 9/11 and established the Rumsfeld Doctrine in these conflicts, a push to send in the smallest possible number of forces.
At the start of the Iraq war, Gen. Newbold called for 500,000 troops, which Rumsfeld said was the “product of old thinking and the embodiment of everything that was wrong with the military.” When France and Germany criticized the invasion of Iraq, he said they were the “Old Europe.”
In a 2002 interview, Rumsfeld said, “I can't tell you if the use of force in Iraq today would last five days, or five weeks, or five months, but it certainly isn't going to last any longer than that.” After nine more years, more than 60,000 casualties and $1 trillion, President Obama wound down the Iraq war.
Infighting between Colin Powell at the State Department, Cheney, and Rumsfeld sometimes resulted in polarizing the administration on critical issues, including Iraq and North Korea.
Rumsfeld also had disagreements with the CIA over who had authority to fire missiles from drones, delaying their use against al Qaeda. Someone involved in this argument said, “Rumsfeld never missed an opportunity to fail to cooperate. The fact is, the Secretary of Defense is an obstacle. He has helped the terrorists.”
It was decided by the administration that existing prison facilities in Iraq would be used to detain enemy combatants without protection of the Geneva Convention. Rumsfeld offered to resign after the torture and abuse scandal at Abu Ghraib. He supported the administration’s enhanced interrogation techniques, including waterboarding, which were also used at Guantanamo, Cuba.
In early 2006, eight retired generals and admirals called for Rumsfeld to resign because of his “abysmal” military planning and lack of strategic incompetence. Bush defended Rumsfeld but accepted his resignation just after the 2006 elections, when Republicans lost both houses of Congress. Cheney called him the “finest secretary of defense this nation has ever had.”
Since leaving office, Rumsfeld often criticized Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. She replied in 2011, saying that he “doesn't know what he's talking about.”
In a November 2002 interview with Infinity CBS Radio, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld said, “I can't tell you if the use of force in Iraq today would last five days, or five weeks, or five months, but it certainly isn't going to last any longer than that.” After nine more years, and more than 60,000 casualties and $1 trillion, President Obama ended the Iraq war.
“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 that we know. There are known unknowns. That is to say, there are things that we now know we don't know. But there are also unknown unknowns. There are things we do not know we don't know.”
(Known and Unknown: A Memoir, Feb. 2011, quote from a February 12, 2002 press conference – Source)
“I would not say that the future is necessarily less predictable than the past. I think the past was not predictable when it started.”
(April 3, 2003 – Source)
“Death has a tendency to encourage a depressing view of war.”
(2003 – Source)
“I believe what I said yesterday. I don't know what I said, but I know what I think, and, well, I assume it's what I said.”
(Feb. 2003, news conference – Source)
“Needless to say, the President is correct. Whatever it was he said.”
(Feb. 28, 2003 – Source)
“If I know the answer I'll tell you the answer, and if I don't, I'll just respond, cleverly.”
(addressing troops at Bagram Air Base, Afghanistan, 27 April 2002 – Source)
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Dick Cheney’s first political job was as an intern for a Republican Wisconsin congressman. He then joined the staff of Donald Rumsfeld, Director of the Office of Economic Opportunity, followed by several positions in the Ford White House, rising to Deputy Assistant to the president. When Rumsfeld became Ford’s defense secretary, Cheney became White House Chief of Staff.
Cheney was elected to five terms in Congress from Wyoming and served as House Minority Whip. While in Congress he opposed creation of the Department of Education, in part because he thought it encroached on states’ rights.
In 1989 George H. W. Bush named him Secretary of Defense. Cheney directed the U.S. invasion of Panama and Operation Desert Storm in the Middle East, and established U.S. military bases in Saudi Arabia. The U.S. had 500,000 stationed in Saudi Arabia and the Persian Gulf when Iraq invaded Kuwait.
After Operation Desert Storm, Cheney said that occupying and attempting to take over Iraq would have been a “bad idea” and would have led to a “quagmire.”
Cheney joined the American Enterprise Institute after Clinton was elected, and went on to become ceo and chairman of the board of Halliburton, 1995-2000. He retired from Haliburton with a reported $20 million package to join George W. Bush’s ticket as vice president in 2000.
Cheney has been characterized as the most powerful and influential vice president in history. He actively promoted an expansion of the powers of the presidency. The Washington Post characterized Cheney not as a “shadow” president, but as someone who usually has the last words of counsel to the president on policies, which in many cases would reshape presidential powers.
Cheney helped shape Bush’s strategy on the War on Terror, alleging that Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction and there were links between Saddam Hussein and al-Qaeda, even though Bush’s intelligence said there was little or no evidence of the latter.
Shortly after 9/11, Cheney said, “We also have to work, though, sort of the dark side, if you will. We've got to spend time in the shadows in the intelligence world. A lot of what needs to be done here will have to be done quietly, without any discussion, using sources and methods that are available to our intelligence agencies, if we're going to be successful.”
Vice President Cheney and Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld established an alternative program to interrogate post-9/11 detainees because of their mutual distrust of the CIA. Cheney had supported Rumsfeld for Defense to offset the influence of Powell at the State Department.
Cheney’s strongest influence was in shaping budge and tax policy to assure “conservative orthodoxy.” He influenced environmental policy to ease pollution controls for power plants, facilitate nuclear waste disposal, open access to federal timber resources, and avoid federal constraints on greenhouse gas emissions.
In 2008 an EPA official said that Cheney’s office had pushed significantly for large-scale deletions from a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report on the health effects of global warming “fearing the presentation by a leading health official might make it harder to avoid regulating greenhouse gases.”
In 2004, Cheney quipped, “Am I the evil genius in the corner that nobody ever sees come out of his hole? It's a nice way to operate, actually.”
Cheney twice flunked out of Yale before attending the University of Wyoming in political science, where he earned a BA and MA. He started but did not finish doctoral studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He married in 1964 and has two daughters.
He received five draft deferments during the Viet Nam war, and said, “I had other priorities in the ‘60s than military service.”
“You know, Paul, Reagan proved deficits don't matter.”
“Let us rid ourselves of the fiction that low oil prices are somehow good for the United States.”
(In October 1986, when Dick Cheney was the lone congressman from energy-rich Wyoming, he introduced legislation to create a new import tax that would have caused the price of oil, and ultimately the price of gasoline paid by drivers, to soar by billions of dollars per year. “THE 2004 CAMPAIGN: THE VICE PRESIDENT; Cheney Tax Plan From '86 Would Have Raised Gas Prices,” by Richard A. Oppel, Jr., April 6, 2004, New York Times – Source)
“We will, in fact, be greeted as liberators.”
(March 16, 2003, Meet the Press with Tim Russert – Source)
“Principle is okay up to a certain point, but principle doesn't do any good if you lose.”
(1976 presidential campaign – Source)
“We also have to work, though, sort of the dark side, if you will. We've got to spend time in the shadows in the intelligence world. A lot of what needs to be done here will have to be done quietly, without any discussion, using sources and methods that are available to our intelligence agencies, if we're going to be successful.”
(Sept. 16, 2001, talking with NBC’s Tim Russert – Source)