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Donald Rumsfeld, architect of the unpopular Iraq war, resigned as defense secretary before last year’s November election but his decision was not announced until after the voting, according to his resignation letter obtained by Reuters on Wednesday.
The letter was dated November 6, the day before voters, angered by Iraq, went to the polls and swept Republicans from power in Congress. According to a stamp on the letter, President George W. Bush saw it on election day.
Bush, however, did not announce that Rumsfeld would leave until the day after the election.
That infuriated some Republicans, who said their party might have kept more seats in Congress and perhaps kept control of the Senate if Rumsfeld had left before the election.
Rumsfeld did not mention the Iraq war in his four-paragraph resignation letter.
Instead, the man who had become the focal point for critics of the Bush administration’s management of the war praised the president for his leadership.
“I leave with great respect for you and for the leadership you have provided during a most challenging time for our country. The focus, determination and perseverance you have so consistently provided have been needed and are impressive,” Rumsfeld told Bush.
“It is time to conclude my service. As I do, I want you to know that you have my continuing and heartfelt support as you enter the final two years of your presidency,” Rumsfeld wrote.
Rumsfeld also praised U.S. troops for their dedication, professionalism, courage and sacrifice.