Donald Rumsfeld


Donald Rumsfeld : biography

July 9, 1932 –

In February 1973, Rumsfeld left Washington to serve as U.S. Ambassador to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) in Brussels, Belgium. He served as the United States’ Permanent Representative to the North Atlantic Council and the Defense Planning Committee, and the Nuclear Planning Group. In this capacity, he represented the United States in wide-ranging military and diplomatic matters, and was asked to help mediate a conflict on behalf of the United States between Cyprus and Turkey.Rumsfeld, Donald (2011), p. 157

Ford Administration

In August 1974, Rumsfeld was called back to Washington to serve as transition chairman for the new president, Gerald R. Ford. He had been Ford’s confidant since their days in the House when Ford was House minority leader. As the new president became settled in, Ford appointed Rumsfeld White House Chief of Staff, where he served from 1974 to 1975. In that position, joined by Cheney and Antonin Scalia, he counseled Ford’s unsuccessful veto of an expansion of the Freedom of Information Act., National Security Archive November 23, 2004. Accessed January 20, 2013.

In October 1975, Ford reshuffled his cabinet in the Halloween Massacre. He named Rumsfeld to become the 13th U.S. Secretary of Defense; George H. W. Bush became Director of Central Intelligence. According to Bob Woodward’s 2002 book Bush at War, a rivalry developed between the two men and "Bush senior was convinced that Rumsfeld was pushing him out to the CIA to end his political career."

At the Pentagon, Rumsfeld oversaw the transition to an all-volunteer military. He sought to reverse the gradual decline in the defense budget and to build up U.S. strategic and conventional forces, skillfully undermining Secretary of State Henry Kissinger at the SALT talks. He asserted, along with Team B (which he helped to set up), that trends in comparative U.S.-Soviet military strength had not favored the United States for 15 to 20 years and that, if continued, they "would have the effect of injecting a fundamental instability in the world." For this reason, he oversaw the development of cruise missiles, the B-1 bomber, and a major naval shipbuilding program.

In 1977, Rumsfeld was awarded the nation’s highest civilian award, the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Kissinger, his bureaucratic adversary, would later pay him a different sort of compliment, pronouncing him "a special Washington phenomenon: the skilled full-time politician-bureaucrat in whom ambition, ability, and substance fuse seamlessly."


Affiliation history

Institutional affiliations

  • Center for Security Policy: Longtime associate; winner of the CSP’s 1998 "Keeper of the Flame" award (5)
  • Hoover Institution: Member, board of trustees
  • Project for the New American Century: Signed PNAC’s founding statement of principles as well as two policy letters on Iraq
  • Freedom House: Board member
  • RAND Corporation: Board member
  • Committee for the Free World: Former chairman
  • Bohemian Club: Member

Government posts, panels, and commissions

  • Secretary of Defense (2001–06)
  • U.S. Commission to Assess National Security Space Management and Organization: Chairman (2000)
  • U.S. Ballistic Missile Threat Commission: Chairman (1998)
  • Secretary of Defense (1975–77)
  • White House Chief of Staff in Ford administration (1974–75)
  • U.S. Ambassador to NATO (1973–74)
  • U.S. Congress: Representative from Illinois (1962–69)
  • United States Navy: Various posts, including aviator (1954–57); reserves (1957–1975) Retired as a Navy Captain (1989)

Corporate connections and business interests

  • Eastern Air Lines: Former director – The annual reports of Eastern Air Lines discloses that Donald Rumsfeld was a member of Eastern Air Lines Board of Directors.
  • Gilead Sciences: joined Gilead as a director in 1988 Chairman (1997–2001)
  • General Instrument Corporation: Chairman and CEO (1990–93)
  • G.D. Searle pharmaceutical company: CEO/Chairman/President (1977–1985)
  • Bechtel Corporation: Was involved in Iraq-Bechtel negotiations in the 1980s on a pipeline project
  • Gulfstream Aerospace: Former director
  • Tribune Company: Former director
  • Metricom, Inc.: Former director
  • Sears, Roebuck and Co.: Former director
  • ABB AB: Former director
  • Kellogg Company: director 1985–199? while Carlos Gutierrez (x Cuba 1960) president CEO and chairman Kellogg until named Secretary Commerce under Bush from 2005
  • RAND Corporation: Chairman of Board from 1981–1986; 1995–1996
  • Bilderberg Group: Member
  • Amylin Pharmaceuticals: Former director