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OpEdNews Op Eds    H2'ed 7/1/21

"Merciless War Criminal" and Ex-Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld Dead at 88

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"The only thing tragic about the death of Donald Rumsfeld is that it didn't occur in an Iraqi prison."

Donald Rumsfeld
Donald Rumsfeld
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Donald Rumsfeld, the former U.S. congressman, aide to several Republican presidents, and two-time defense secretary whose torture-laden tenure and ruinous legacy were defined by his lies in service of an unending war that's killed at least hundreds of thousands of people, died Tuesday at age 88.

By the time he was chosen as then-President George W. Bush's secretary of defense, Rumsfeld had already been a Navy veteran, four-term Republican U.S. congressman, and adviser to former Presidents Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford -- for whom he had served as defense secretary.

In the early 1980s, President Ronald Reagan repeatedly dispatched Rumsfeld as a special envoy to Iraq, whose brutal dictator Saddam Hussein was at the time an important U.S. ally. An infamous handshake between Rumsfeld and Hussein led to the transfer of deadly chemical and biological materials from the U.S. and allies to Iraq. Hussein subsequently weaponized the components and unleashed weapons of mass destruction on both Iranian troops -- with the assistance of the Reagan administration -- and Iraqi Kurds during the genocidal (pdf) Anfal campaign.

As Bush's defense secretary, Rumsfeld -- who served as CEO or chairman of companies including General Instrument and Gilead Sciences -- recruited an inner circle of former corporate executives to oversee Pentagon operations, including Air Force Secretary James G. Roche (Northrop Grumman), Navy Secretary Gordon England (General Dynamics), and Army Secretary Thomas E. White (Enron). So great was the influence of the arms industry in the department during Rumsfeld's tenure that one commentator described it as "Department of Defense, Inc."

An ardent imperialist, Rumsfeld was a leading luminary of the neoconservative movement and a prominent leader of the Project for the New American Century (PNAC), whose other members included Bush administration officials such as Dick Cheney, John Bolton, Elliott Abrams, and Paul Wolfowitz.

PNAC hawks -- who envisioned and strategized regime change in Iraq and elsewhere even before 9/11 -- lobbied vigorously for the 2003 invasion of Iraq, even though they knew the country had no connection with the September 11, 2001 attacks on the U.S. or weapons of mass destruction. When pressed on this last point, Rumsfeld offered perhaps his most infamous explanation:

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