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Photo: Brendan Snialowski/AFP via Getty images

Former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld has died at the age of 88, his family said Wednesday.

The big picture: Rumsfeld led the Department of Defense on 9/11 and at the start of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

  • Rumsfeld is the only person to serve as defense secretary twice. Under Gerald Ford (from 1975-77), he was the youngest person to lead the Pentagon. Under George W. Bush (from 2001-06), he was the oldest.

Rumsfeld oversaw the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan and the toppling of the Taliban.

  • Afghanistan, however, saw a resurgence of the Taliban as the Bush administration shifted focus and resources to Iraq.

Rumsfeld in Iraq "waged a costly and divisive war that ultimately destroyed his political life and outlived his tenure by many years," the New York Times notes.

  • U.S. forces quickly brought down Iraqi President Saddam Hussein, but failed to maintain law and order there.
  • In his 2011 memoir, "Known and Unknown," Rumsfeld defended the war, writing, “Ridding the region of Saddam's brutal regime has created a more stable and secure world."

Rumsfeld also had stints as White House chief of staff, U.S. ambassador to NATO, and a member of Congress.

  • He briefly sought the 1988 Republican presidential nomination, in a run described by AP as "a spectacular flop."

What they're saying: “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," his family said in a statement

"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.”
Then-President George W. Bush meets with his cabinet at the White House, including Secretary of State Colin Powell (L) and Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld in 2002. Photo: Brooks Kraft/CORBIS/Corbis via Getty Images

Bush in a statement Wednesday called Rumsfeld "a man of intelligence, integrity, and almost inexhaustible energy, he never paled before tough decisions, and never flinched from responsibility."

Rumsfeld is survived by his wife, three children and seven grandchildren.

  • He died of multiple myeloma, according to his former chief of staff, Keith Urbahn, per the Times.

Editor's note: This story has been updated throughout.

Go deeper

Updated Sep 11, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Bush alludes to Capitol rioters' “determination to defile national symbols” in 9/11 speech

Former President George W. Bush on Saturday warned of homegrown violent extremism while speaking at the Flight 93 memorial on the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks.

Driving the news: "We have seen growing evidence that the dangers to our country can come not only across borders, but from violence that gathers within," said Bush, who joined Vice President Kamala Harris and others at the ceremony.

Europe's energy reliance on Russia is a crucial shield for Putin

Photo: Pavel Bednyakov/Sputnik/AFP via Getty Images

Cracks in the NATO alliance regarding sanctions for Russia should President Vladimir Putin order troops into Ukraine are in large part based on energy supply concerns.

Why it matters: Russia holds tremendous leverage over some European countries because it provides roughly 40% of Europe's natural gas supply. In Germany, this figure is greater than 50%.

Why the Fed might want to jolt the markets

Fed chair Jerome Powell at a hearing earlier this month. Photo: Brendan Smialowski-Pool/Getty Images

So far, financial markets are cooperating nicely with the Federal Reserve's efforts to restrain inflation. They're doing the Fed's work for it by creating tighter financial conditions, in a distinctly non-panicky way.

  • But as the central bank's policymakers meet this week, an underlying question they face is whether the adjustment is happening too slowly.