(TMU Opinion) Accused war criminal Donald Rumsfeld passed away at the age of 88, according to a statement from his family on June 30.
Rumsfeld, who oversaw what many argue were illegal wars following the September 11, 2001, attack on the World Trade Center, served as secretary of defense to Presidents Gerald Ford and George W. Bush.
“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. At 88, he was surrounded by family in his beloved Taos, New Mexico,” read the family’s 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.”
Indeed, Rumsfeld’s actions deeply impacted countless lives – especially those of the civilians in Iraq, Afghanistan, and the broader Middle East, which is still reeling from the devastating U.S. interventions of the so-called “Global War on Terror” launched under his auspices, not to mention the tens of thousands of U.S. combat veterans who were maimed, injured, traumatized or killed in the wars.
Rumsfeld was a former U.S. Navy airman, a White House chief of staff, NATO ambassador for Washington, congressman, and CEO of two large companies when he became secretary of defense for the second time in 2001, according to a Defense Department bio.
Controversially, Rumsfeld worked alongside fellow hawk Dick Cheney during the Reagan years to develop secretive presidential security programs. He later became a main architect of the U.S. invasions of Afghanistan and later Iraq on blatantly false grounds that the Arab country was working alongside terrorist organizations and had weapons of mass destruction (WMD).
Rumsfeld also helped to dictate the framework by which the U.S. exported its kidnapping and torture programs, or “extraordinary renditions,” around the globe. In 2002, he signed a memorandum that expanded “enhanced” interrogation techniques and questioned why detainees were being limited to only being forced to stand for four hours a day.
In 2005, Rumsfeld was sued by nine torture victims represented by the ACLU. Rumsfeld maintained that he is immune from responsibility from the human rights crimes he oversaw, and the case was ultimately dismissed in 2007.
However, the judge also denounced the case as “lamentable” and appalling, noting that “the facts alleged in the complaint stand as an indictment of the humanity with which the United States treats its detainees.”
Rumsfeld and other Bush II administration officials were also found guilty by the Kuala Lumpur War Crimes Commission in 2012.
“We have no plan to arrest them,” Commissioner Musa Bin Ismail told VICE at the time. “They will be haunted all their lives by the fact that they’re war criminals who have murdered countless people and affected countless lives through their acts and policy while in office. Their lives will be unsettling, full of regret and the feeling of guilt, punctuated with long stretches of sorrow and unabated sadness. They will die with disgruntled souls.”
Unlike those who died in a state of suffering and solitude due to the aggressive U.S. military campaigns, Rumsfeld died in peace surrounded by his family in Taos, New Mexico.
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