Donald H. RumsfeldGeorge W. Bush's secretary of Defense
Birthplace: Chicago, Ill.
The ultimate Washington insider, Rumsfeld became President Bush's secretary of defense in January 2001. He held the same position under President Ford. The role of the U.S. military, however, has changed dramatically since 1975. Rumsfeld has advocated building an impenetrable national missile defense system. This policy, however, proved a failure during the Iraq war.
Rumsfeld served in Congress from 1962 to 1969 as a representative from Illinois. In 1974, Rumsfeld led President Ford's transition team, and he brought Dick Cheney, his protégé, to the executive office. When Rumsfeld was named secretary of defense in 1975, Cheney was appointed Ford's chief of staff. When President Carter was elected in 1976, Rumsfeld entered the private sector.
Rumsfeld resigned his post as secretary of defense the day after Republicans lost control of Congress in the 2006 midterm elections. His intransigent Iraq policies had made him the bête noir of Democrats as well as many Republicans. He refused requests by military leaders to sharply increase the number of troops in Iraq, failed to stem the increasing sectarian violence in the country, and allowed reconstruction to lag, leaving many Iraqis without electricity and running water. For months, politicians on both sides of the aisle demanded that he be replaced.