Donald Rumsfeld, architect of the war in Afghanistan, is buried

WASHINGTON – A horse-drawn caisson with a flag-covered coffin slowly walked through the gates of Arlington National Cemetery on Monday, ...

WASHINGTON – A horse-drawn caisson with a flag-covered coffin slowly walked through the gates of Arlington National Cemetery on Monday, a hushed picture against a noisy city with recriminations about the lost war in Afghanistan.

The procession carried Donald H. Rumsfeld, the double secretary of defense and one of the chief architects of war, whose burial on a sweltering August afternoon served as an additional coda to the 20-year conflict.

Mr. Rumsfeld died on June 29, aged 88, complications from multiple myeloma. The date for his burial and a private funeral service earlier Monday in Fort Myer, Va. Had been set long before, but the timing meant Mr Rumsfeld was buried during the same type of shell shock as October 7. , 2001, when the United States launched its first airstrikes in Afghanistan.

And yet the ceremonies seemed to take place in a confined, parallel universe, isolated from Washington’s bickering. “It was a lot about the man and his time, not a particular issue of the day,” said Larry Di Rita, one of Mr. Rumsfeld’s senior deputies at the Pentagon under George’s administration. W. Bush.

Say what you want about the man known as “Rummy”, and many did it, harshly, for turning away from Afghanistan and waging a war in Iraq that claimed thousands. Americans and hundreds of thousands of Iraqis died and ultimately destroyed the death of Mr. Rumsfeld’s political life. But at Memorial Chapel in Fort Myer, the praise called back a different man.

“Our capital has many familiar types,” former Vice President Dick Cheney, Mr Rumsfeld’s longtime ally, recalled of his closest friend, according to his remarks prepared and confirmed by funeral guests . “Yet in all my years in this company town, I have never heard anyone describe it as ‘the Rumsfeld type’. There is no such thing because nothing about Don was typical, derivative, or standard. “

Mr. Cheney also referred to some of Mr. Rumsfeld’s signature maxims, which Mr. Rumsfeld sometimes adapted from familiar Washington sayings. “Harry Truman would have said, ‘If you want a friend in Washington, take a dog,'” Mr Cheney said. “To that, Don added Rumsfeld’s corollary: take a little dog – it might turn on you. “

The words “Afghanistan” or “Iraq” were barely uttered by Mr. Cheney and a host of other praises, including Richard B. Myers, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff at the start of the wars in Iraq and in Afghanistan, and Victoria Clarke, Mr. Rumsfeld’s longtime communications assistant at the Pentagon.

Ms Clarke invoked one of Mr Rumsfeld’s favorite sayings, or the so-called Rumsfeld Rules. “Cemeteries are filled with irreplaceable people,” Ms. Clarke said before the funeral, citing her former boss, but changing the rule in her honor. “Arlington National Cemetery will soon have someone who is truly irreplaceable.”

Details of the funeral and burial have been closely held by the Rumsfeld family and none were made public after the end. Among the guests were Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III and General Mark A. Milley, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, who knelt before Mr. Rumsfeld’s widow, Joyce, who was in wheelchair, and presented her with the flag from her husband’s coffin.

Others were there, Rep. Liz Cheney, Republican from Wyoming, and Paul D. Wolfowitz, Mr. Rumsfeld’s number two in the Pentagon who lobbied for the Iraq war.

“Most of the time it was just a lot of people who hadn’t seen each other for a long time, in some cases since Rumsfeld left the Pentagon,” said David Hume Kennerly, the presidential photographer for the President’s White House. Gerald R. Ford when Mr. Rumsfeld was Mr. Ford’s chief of staff. “And there were a lot of stories shared.”

The stories surfaced in the praise, which was often drawn from inside the Pentagon, where Mr. Rumsfeld served as Ford’s Defense Secretary in the 1970s and a quarter of a century later from President George W. Bush.

“There’s September 11, of course,” Clarke recalled, when Mr. Rumsfeld left his office to help rescue teams after a hijacked American Airlines plane crashed into the west side of the Pentagon, killing all 64 people on the plane and another 125 inside. “A lot of us were in the building trying to figure out what had happened,” Ms. Clarke said. “It was he who went to find out.

A former Navy pilot, Princeton-trained wrestler and competitive squash player until his 80s, Mr. Rumsfeld’s aggressive style was well established. “He didn’t quarter, and there was often blood at the end of the game,” said Di Rita, a frequent squash opponent to his boss. “When you played with him it was basically Don Rumsfeld being Don Rumsfeld.”

Ms Clarke also recounted seeing Mr Rumsfeld walk to the Pentagon briefing room and pick up a warped paper clip he spotted in the hallway. He spent the meeting twisting and reworking the lone trombone into combat form.

“Like new,” he told Mrs. Clarke, brandishing the paperclip as he left the briefing room.

A few hours later, a document was sent to Ms Clarke’s office, held with that same paper clip. “Save taxpayer money,” scrawled Mr. Rumsfeld on a yellow post-it affixed to the restored object.

Mr. Cheney described the tumultuous time after Richard M. Nixon resigned from the presidency in 1974, and Mr. Ford was about to appoint his own vice president. Mr. Rumsfeld was a finalist for the job and was at Mr. Cheney’s home in Bethesda, Md., Listening to a kitchen radio as the process came to an end.

“We have heard reports describing the Rockefeller Estate scene,” Cheney recalled, referring to the eventual selection of Mr. Ford, former New York Governor Nelson Rockefeller. There was a fleet of sedans outside the mansion, Cheney noted, with family jets ready to transport the Rockefellers’ entourage to Washington.

“Don scoffed at the superior resources Rockefeller brought to the competition,” Cheney recalls. “He said to me, ‘This is Nelson Rockefeller with planes full of people coming down from New York, and all I have is you, Cheney.'”

Attendees said the assembly burst into laughter, led by the chuckling Mr. Cheney himself. It took a few seconds for the solemnity to be restored. “Until we meet again, goodbye old friend,” Mr. Cheney said at the end of his remarks, his voice capturing, according to a guest, a rare hint of public emotion.

“I had responsibilities and experiences far beyond anything I could have known,” Cheney said, assigning all of these responsibilities to Mr. Rumsfeld. “He decided he could trust me and it changed my life.”

Unsaid, for better or for worse: it also changed history.

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Newsrust - US Top News: Donald Rumsfeld, architect of the war in Afghanistan, is buried
Donald Rumsfeld, architect of the war in Afghanistan, is buried
Newsrust - US Top News
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