Former US Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld dies aged 88

Donald Rumsfeld has died days before his 89th birthday, his family announced today.

Rumsfeld served as Secretary of Defense from 1975 to 1977 under Gerald Ford, and again from January 2001 to December 2006 under George W. Bush.

His family paid tribute to the architect of the Iraq war in a brief statement.

“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,” they wrote.

“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 was a one-time presidential candidate whose reputation as a skilled bureaucrat and visionary of a modern US military was soiled by the long and costly Iraq war.

Regarded by former colleagues as equally smart and combative, patriotic and politically cunning, Rumsfeld had a storied career under four presidents and nearly a quarter century in corporate America.

In 2001 he began his second tour as Pentagon chief under President George W. Bush, but his plan to “transform” the armed forces was overshadowed by the September 11 terrorist attacks.

He oversaw the US invasion of Afghanistan and the 2003 overthrow of Saddam Hussein in Iraq, where he was blamed for setbacks including the Abu Ghraib prisoner abuse scandal and for being slow to recognise a violent insurgency.

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