Donald Rumsfeld helped President George W. Bush
preside over the invasion of Iraq as his Secretary of Defense from 2001-06. It was Rumsfeld's second turn in the position: he also served as Secretary of Defense under Gerald Ford
from 1975-77. Donald Rumsfeld earned a bachelor's degree from Princeton University in 1954, then served in the U.S. Navy from 1954 to 57 as a flier and flight instructor. Rumsfeld's Republican connections extend back to 1958, when he became an assistant to Congressman Dave Dennison of Ohio. He served as a congressman from Illinois (1962-69) before going to work as an economic adviser for President Richard Nixon
(1969-73). Rumsfeld continued in the Ford administration as White House Chief of Staff and then as the youngest-ever Secretary of Defense until Ford's defeat by Jimmy Carter
. During the 1980s, Donald Rumsfeld served in various capacities as an advisor to the Ronald Reagan
administration, but spent most of his time in private industry. He served on corporate boards in banking and communications and spent eight years as the CEO of pharmaceutical giant G. D. Searle & Co. Rumsfeld returned to the Pentagon in 2001, becoming the 21st Secretary of Defense. After the 9/11 attacks on the U.S. in 2001, Rumsfeld directed forces in an attack on Afghanistan and was a vigorous proponent of invading Iraq to topple Saddam Hussein
, which then occurred in 2003, with disastrous long-term results. Rumsfeld signed off on the torture of prisoners at Guantanamo Bay and elsewhere, and famously predicted in 2002 that "I can’t tell you if the use of force in Iraq today would last five days, or five weeks or five months. But it certainly isn’t going to last any longer than that." When success in Iraq was slow in coming, critics -- both civilian and military -- piled on Rumsfeld. The day after the 2006 midterm elections gave Democrats control of the House of Representatives, Bush announced Rumsfeld's resignation, apparently in response to the increasing unpopularity of the war in Iraq. Rumsfeld stepped down officially in December of 2006 and was replaced by Robert Gates
, a former C.I.A director (1991-93).