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Donald Rumsfeld talks about his upcoming memoir

January 24, 2011 |  7:24 am

Donald Rumsfeld's memoir "Known and Unknown" is coming to bookstores Feb. 8. The former secretary of defense, now 78, sat down with the Associated Press to talk about the book, which used White House memos, letters, personal interviews and Rumsfeld's own prodigious output of paperwork as resources; it clocks in at more than 800 pages.

"I started thinking about this amazing archive I had," he says during a recent interview. "The fact that I had it, persuaded me that I ought to take advantage of it."...

As defense secretary under Bush, Rumsfeld issued thousands of memos, "snowflakes," they were called. He reads from some issued in 2003 and in 2005: "Are we winning or losing the war on terror?" "Is the U.S. government changing fast enough?" "Do we need more troops? And if so, where and for what purpose?"

"My brain would be going," he says. "I wanted to find out something. I needed help. I needed advice. Some of them were just, 'I need a haircut.'"

Rumsfeld began his career in the Navy and served as a congressman from Illinois before joining the Nixon administration. He also worked for President Ford, becoming his chief of staff. His most visible public role, however, was as secretary of defense under George W. Bush, and helping to shape the American response to the Sept. 11 attacks. In his office, the AP reports, he keeps "a piece of shrapnel" from the plane that struck the Pentagon.

The title of Rumsfeld's book comes from one of his more famous public statements, made during a 2002 news conference during which he was asked about the apparent lack of evidence that Iraq was supplying terrorists with weapons of mass destruction.

"Reports that say that something hasn't happened are always interesting to me, because, as we know, there are known knowns; there are things we know that we know," he said. "There are known unknowns. That is to say, there are things that we now know we don't know. But there are also unknown unknowns. There are things we do not know we don't know."

According to the AP, Rumsfeld's book includes several "Rumsfeld's Rules," including "The harder I work, the luckier I am" and ""If you are not criticized, you may not be doing much." Read the complete article about Donald Rumsfeld and his upcoming memoir, "Known and Unknown."

-- Carolyn Kellogg

Photo: Donald Rumsfeld, right, at his 2006 retirement ceremony with President George W. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney, at the Pentagon. Credit: Mark Wilson/Getty Images