Interview with Sec. Don Rumsfeld – Known and Unknown: A Memoir – UPDATE: Video “My Goodness”

In support of his new book titled Known and Unknown: A Memoir, former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld joined Jim Vicevich and guest Michael Walsh on WTIC this morning for a full 15 minute interview.

You can pick up the book online at Amazon or from your favorite local book store. Click play to listen to the interview.


From the Amazon description…

“If you are not criticized, you may not be doing much.” – Rumsfeld’s Rules

Few Americans have spent more time near the center of power than Donald Rumsfeld. Now he has written an unflinching memoir of his half-century career, sharing previously undisclosed details that will fascinate readers and force historians to rethink many controversies.

Starting from a middle-class childhood in Illinois, Rumsfeld had a rapid rise that won him early acclaim. He shows us what it was like growing up during the Great Depression and World War II, going to Princeton on scholarships, serving as a naval aviator, then getting his first political job on Capitol Hill during the Eisenhower administration. He recalls how he won a seat in the House of Representatives at age thirty and what he experienced as a Republican in Congress during the Kennedy and Johnson years.

We also follow him back to the executive branch as he took on key cabinet positions in the Nixon and Ford administrations, including his service as the youngest-ever secretary of defense, just after the trauma of Vietnam. And we learn about the challenges he later faced as a CEO in the private sector, and during his special assignments for President Reagan, including a face-to-face meeting with Saddam Hussein in 1983.

All of that would have been enough material for a fascinating book. But as 2001 began, Rumsfeld’s greatest challenges lay ahead of him. At age sixty-eight he returned to the Pentagon as President Bush’s secretary of defense, with a mandate to transform the military for a new century. Just nine months later he would confront the worst acts of terrorism in American history, followed by unexpected wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. And he would be on the firing line for many controversies, from the revelations of abuse at Abu Ghraib prison to allegations of torture at Guantánamo Bay.

Known and Unknown reveals what happened behind the scenes during the critical moments of the Bush years, as the President’s inner circle debated how best to defend our country. It is based not only on Rumsfeld’s memory but also on hundreds of previously unreleased documents from throughout his career. It also features his blunt, firsthand opinions about some of the world’s best-known figures, from Margaret Thatcher to Elvis Presley, from Henry Kissinger to Colin Powell, and about each American president from Dwight D. Eisenhower to George W. Bush.

In a famous press briefing, Rumsfeld once remarked that “there are also unknown unknowns . . . things we do not know we don’t know.” His book makes us realize just how much we didn’t know.

Donald Rumsfeld is donating his proceeds from the sales of Known and Unknown to the military charities supported by the Rumsfeld Foundation.

UPDATE (Jim): I just thought I would add this video of one of the most famous face-offs in the Rumsfeld career. It happened in August of 2006 at a Senate hearing being conducted on progress in Iraq. In what was clearly a setup for the TV cameras (Rumsfeld has declined an earlier offer and instead offered a closed door session until Clinton appealed) then Senator Clinton thought she had Rumsfeld boxed in as she detailed point by point the failure in Iraq and Afghanistan. What followed was a pause, a “my goodness” and a point by point rebuttal that left Clinton with no time to speak and egg on her face as the only “rosy” statements by Rumsfeld she could produce was “I do believe we’re on the right track.” The money line comes precisely at 2:33. Enjoy!


It really is one of his finest moments and may I say, why hasn’t Congress asked similar questions of this administration on Afghanistan and GITMO? Just asking.

4 replies
  1. Dimsdale
    Dimsdale says:

    Rumsfeld is the living manifestation of the adage "if you aren't catching flak, you aren't over the target".


    I loved how he took no crap from reporters and had complete and utter control of the facts and figures.


    I am off to pick up this book.

  2. gillie28
    gillie28 says:

    Just listening to the podcast interview (cbs radio still doesn't stream overseas, mumble, mumble) and checked out Rummy's website where he has documented references for his book.  Quite an amazing man, God bless him.

    Thanks for the interview, Jim.  Loved listening to his forthrightness and his integrety shines through.  Really enjoyed it.

  3. GdavidH
    GdavidH says:

    And Hillary is doing a bang up job as secretary of state now….NOT. Could you imagine her as secretary of defense?

    This pacifist is not qualified to shine his shoes. Go wash your burka Hillary, you'll be needing it soon.

  4. Linda Mae
    Linda Mae says:

    He was on Howie Carr last week and I emailed the question – Where did the title come from?  He claimed it came from a briefing he attended years ago.  To me, it smacked of the Jo Hari Window method of examining an issue.  It is a square – google it for an example.  I've always been intrigued by the unknown unknown – that which you don't know that you don't know until trouble rears its ugly head.

    He tried his best with Dave L but Dave defused Don by acting the buffoon – stopped any serious discourse.  But, who's surprised?

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