Ex-US Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, who advocated for war and torture, dies at 88
The death of former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, one of the main architects of the US wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, has rekindled memories of torture and abuse in those war-torn nations.
Rumsfeld died at the age of 88 in Taos, New Mexico, his family announced in statement on Wednesday without specifying when he died.
Following the attacks of September 11, 2001 on the US, then US President George W. Bush, and his Pentagon chief, Rumsfeld, directed the so-called US War on Terror, which continues today, and brought devastation and large number of deaths.
In March 2003, Rumsfeld oversaw the US invasion of Iraq after he warned of a growing arsenal of Iraqi weapons of mass destruction under former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein, but no such weapons were ever discovered.
The war lasted to December 2011, when then-president Barack Obama ended the conflict. However, the war reignited in 2013 and saw the US heavily engaged in Iraq until 2017.
The wars in Iraq killed hundreds of thousands, including thousands of US military forces. The total number of Iraqi civilian deaths is unknown. The Iraq Body Count project places the number of deaths since 2003 between 185,724 and 208,831, as of June 30.
Rumsfeld had predicated that the Iraq war would be a short war, saying in a 2002 interview, “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.”
Rumsfeld was an avid supporter of torture during his time in the Bush administration – which labeled the practice “enhanced interrogation.”
He personally authorized harsh interrogation techniques for detainees and oversaw the opening of the detention camp at the US naval base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, where foreign suspects were tortured.
Jameel Jaffer, head of Columbia University’s Knight First Amendment Institute and a former American Civil Liberties Union deputy legal director, said on Twitter that, “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.”