Former U.S. President George W Bush issued a statement Wednesday, recalling his first Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld as a member of the Cabinet “in a good mood and with a heart” concerned for the welfare of the U.S. military following the news of Rumsfeld’s death at age 88.
“On the morning of September 11, 2001, Donald Rumsfeld rushed to the fire at the Pentagon to help the wounded and ensure the safety of the survivors,” Bush said. “For the next five years, he was in firm service as secretary to the defense of war – a duty he performed with strength, skill and honor.”
While Bush remembers Rumsfeld well, it’s likely that the story doesn’t gently guard his legacy, judging by the initial reactions to Rumsfeld’s death.
Bush and Rumsfeld have seen preliminary success after the United States went to war with them Afghanistan after the September 11 attacks on New York and the Pentagon.
But these have given way to years of setbacks, a war with Iraq based on poor intelligence, and international reactions to the American use of torture and its military killing civilians, among other controversies.
Rumsfeld infamously declared war on Iraq, which was based on claims by then-Iraqi President Saddam Hussein to have weapons of mass destruction would be a short war.
“I can’t tell you that the use of force in Iraq today will last five days or five weeks or five months, but it certainly won’t last longer than that,” Rumsfeld said in a 2002 interview.
Oliver Willis, editor of The American Independent, drew attention to this and another quote on Hussein’s allegation. nuclear weapons program, used to justify war.
“I can’t tell you if the use of force in Iraq today will last five days, or five weeks or five months. But it certainly won’t last longer than that” – Donald Rumsfeld
– Oliver Willis (@owillis) June 30, 2021
The war lasted from March 2003 to December 2011, when then-President Barack Obama ended the conflict. However, the war revived in 2013 as well spillover from the Syrian civil war, and saw the United States heavily engaged in Iraq until 2017.
The wars in Iraq have killed hundreds of thousands, including tens of thousands of American soldiers. The total number of Iraqi civilian deaths is unknown. The Iraq Body Count project place the number of deaths since 2003 between 185,724 and 208,831, as of June 30.
George Zornick, editor of The Huffington Post, shared the note that Rumsfeld signed on December 2, 2002, authorizing 20-hour interrogations, the use of phobias and stressful positions.
These and other techniques were known as “advanced interrogations” during the Bush administration. They were determined to be torture from scholars and experts.
Zornick noted Rumsfeld’s writing in the background that he challenged a four-hour limit to stay: “However, I stay for 8-10 hours a day. Because Standing is limited to 4 hours ”.
The torture note signed by Donald Rumsfeld, on 12/02/02, authorizing 20-hour interrogations, removal of clothing, use of phobias, and stressful positions for up to 4 hours.
Note his handwriting at the bottom: “However, I stay for 8-10 hours a day. Because it’s Standing limited to 4 hours.” pic.twitter.com/F34zbkJ5HQ
– George Zornick (@gzornick) June 30, 2021
Jameel Jaffer, head of Columbia University’s Knight First Amendment Institute and former deputy legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union, said on Twitter: “Rumsfeld gave the order that led to the abuse and torture of hundreds of prisoners detained in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Guantanamo Bay. This must be on top of every obituary. “
Rumsfeld gave orders that led to the abuse and torture of hundreds of prisoners in U.S. custody in Afghanistan, Iraq and Guantanamo Bay. This should be at the top of every obituary.
– Jameel Jaffer (@JameelJaffer) June 30, 2021
Rumsfeld was also known to have had initial conflicts with Bush’s initial Secretary of State Colin Powell at the beginning of the administration. Powell has not even released a statement about his death.
However, Powell’s successor remembered him with affection. Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, the first black woman to occupy the office, took to Twitter to say she remembers the former head of defense as a “remarkable and committed public servant.”
Don Rumsfeld was a remarkable and committed public servant. He was also a good friend and a strong presence in all the many post-11/11 world trials. I will miss you as a colleague and as a friend. Joyce and family will be in my thoughts and prayers.
– Condoleezza Rice (@CondoleezzaRice) June 30, 2021
Rice said she would have missed Rumsfeld as a “colleague and as a friend.”