Donald Rumsfeld's second tour of duty as Secretary of Defense is coming to an end. Most likely, so is his 44-year career in public service.
The sharp-tongued architect of the war in Iraq resigned one day after midterm elections in which the execution of the war had become one of the key issues.
His resignation will not be effective immediately. He'll continue in his post until his replacement is confirmed by the Senate.
Rumsfeld's tenure at the Pentagon is not without achievement. By next month, he will become the longest-serving Secretary of Defense in the history of the nation. As President Bush pointed out during a news conference on Wednesday, Rumsfeld worked to save lives at the Pentagon in the immediate aftermath of the September 11 attacks. He also planned the successful and unconventional attack on Afghanistan in response to those attacks.
But the 74-year-old Rumsfeld had become a prominent target for Democrats, a growing number of Republicans and some former generals who have lost confidence in the U.S. policy in Iraq.
Rumsfeld's public image was hurt by comments he made about the war that ended up being untrue.
Rumsfeld tried to downplay the looting and civil unrest in Iraq after Saddam's regime had fallen in April 2003. In a televised briefing from the Pentagon, he said the media was misusing the scenes of chaos being broadcast from Baghdad to the rest of the world.
"The images you are seeing on television," he said. "You are seeing it over and over and over, and it's the same picture, of some person walking out of some building with a vase. And you see it 20 times. And you think, 'My goodness, were there that many vases?'"
It later became obvious that the looting and destruction of both artifacts and records in Iraq was widespread and caused many problems for the redevelopment and security of the country.
He also infuriated his critics with flippant quips, which were often seen as arrogant, reports CBS News correspondent Bob Orr.
In December 2004, while being questioned by troops about the lack of armored Humvees, Rumsfeld replied with the, "As you know, you have to go to war with the Army you have, not the Army you want."
His brusque attitude has also rankled many in the military with his management style and his constant push for modernization and transformation of the armed forces.
In April, a group of retired generals made athe Secretary of Defense.
"He went to war with a flawed plan. He didn't account for the hard work to build the peace after we took down the regime," retired Army Maj. Gen. John Batiste, who served as an infantry division commander in Iraq for 2½ years until last November, said on CBS News' The Early Show at the time.
Rumsfeld was also pilloried by journalist Bob Woodward in his book, "State of Denial." The book claims that Rumsfeld was not only abusive to his military staff and dismissive of other members of the Cabinet, but also that he mismanaged the planning and execution of the war.
Woodward wrote that a top general said Rumsfeld hadthat the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff has become "the parrot on Rumsfeld's shoulder."
"State of Denial" also claimed that White House Chief of Staff Andy Card and First Lady Laura Bush wanted the president to fire Rumsfeld.
Many of Rumsfeld's colleagues, friends and bosses from his many years in Washington rushed to support him.
Former President Gerald Ford, who appointed Rumsfeld as his Chief of Staff and later made his Secretary of Defense, released a statementand congratulating the current president on his choice.
Mr. Bush "knew that Don, who had been in the job before, was extremely well-suited to take on this challenge and contend with a bureaucracy that has a built-in resistance to change," Mr. Ford's statement said. "The president knew that successfully carrying out these missions, against stiff resistance, takes someone with a certain amount of steel."
Woodward's book recounts how Vice President Dick Cheney was probably Rumsfeld's savior within the White House. Cheney, who had been a deputy to Rumsfeld when he was Ford's chief of staff, stood between the critics and the Secretary, Woodward wrote.
President Bush's support seemed unimpeachable. Just last week, Mr. Bush said he wanted Rumsfeld to stay on as defense chief as long as Mr. Bush is in office.
Despite whatever confidence Mr. Bush retained in Rumsfeld, the secretary's support in Congress had eroded significantly. Rep. Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., the House speaker-in-waiting, said at her first post-election news conference that Mr. Bush should replace the top civilian leadership at the Pentagon.
Outgoing Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, who had intervened in the past to shore up Rumsfeld, issued a statement saying, "Washington must now work together in a bipartisan way — Republicans and Democrats — to outline the path to success in Iraq."
Mr. Bush disclosed Wednesday that he had spoken with Gates last Sunday about taking over at the Pentagon.
Rumsfeld graduated from Princeton University in 1954 and then spent three years in the U.S. Navy.
Elected to the House of Representatives from his home state of Illinois in 1962, he was re-elected for three more terms but resigned in 1969 to join the Nixon administration.
In 1973, he became U.S. ambassador to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, returning to Washington in August 1974 to head Ford's transition team. He served as White House chief of staff for President Ford before becoming the youngest Secretary of Defense in history, serving from 1975 to 1977.
Rumsfeld chaired a bipartisan congressional commission on ballistic missile threats, which released its findings in 1998.
From 1977 to 1985 he served as CEO, president, and then chairman of G.D. Searle & Co., a worldwide pharmaceutical company.
Mr. Rumsfeld served as chairman and CEO of General Instrument Corp. from 1990 to 1993. General Instrument was a leader in broadband transmission, distribution, and access control technologies.