Donald Rumsfeld, the former US defense secretary, who was the main architect of the Iraq war, died at age 88, his family said Wednesday.
Reactions to the former Congressman, businessman and Naval pilot’s death were deeply divided.
George W. Bush, the 43rd president of the United States, says: “On the morning of September 11, 2001, Donald Rumsfeld ran to the fire at the Pentagon to assist the wounded and ensure the safety of survivors. For the next five years, he was in steady service as a wartime secretary of defense – a duty he carried out with strength, skill, and honour.
A period that brought unprecedented challenges to our country and to our military also brought out the best qualities in Secretary Rumsfeld. A man of intelligence, integrity, and almost inexhaustible energy, he never paled before tough decisions, and never flinched from responsibility … We mourn an exemplary public servant and a very good man.”
Jameel Jaffer, a director at Knight First Amendment Institute, Columbia University and former ACLU deputy legal director, however, differs.
Jaffer says: “Rumsfeld gave the orders that resulted in the abuse and torture of hundreds of prisoners in US custody in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Guantanamo Bay. This should be at the top of every obituary … More than a hundred prisoners died in the course of interrogations. Investigations were haphazard at best. But the military itself concluded that some of the prisoners were tortured to death.”
Iyad el-Baghdadi, president of the Kawaakibi Foundation, a research and activist group focused on liberty in the Arab world, says: “Donald Rumsfeld was a war criminal who presided over illegal wars that involved wholesale massacres of civilians, systemic torture and plunder, and massive corruption. The country he helped break has still not recovered. This is his legacy. May he burn in hell for all eternity.”
US Representative Mike Rogers, a Republican from Alabama who is ranking member of the House Armed Services Committee, is among those who believe Rumsfeld served the United States well.
“Secretary Donald Rumsfeld was an exceptional leader who dedicated decades of his life in public service to this nation. On September 11th, 2001 Donald was there to help lead our nation out of one of our darkest days, including running into the Pentagon to assist the wounded and survivors … He was an extraordinary man and his loss will be deeply felt,” says Rogers.
“He was an inspiration and a mentor to generations of foreign policy conservatives, instilling in them a clear-eyed and unapologetic mission to protect America and the American people.”
Mitch McConnell, Republican Senator from Kentucky and minority leader, is also saddened by the former US defense secretary’s passing.
“Elaine and I were saddened today by the passing of an American patriot who served his country honourably and tirelessly … At every step of the way, Donald Rumsfeld led with conviction and a cutting intellect.”