The Rumsfeld Papers


About the George W. Bush administration documents

My six years in the George W. Bush administration were an unexpected opportunity to return to government service.  I supported then-Governor Bush in the 2000 campaign and was pleased when he selected my friend Dick Cheney to be his running mate.  But going back into government full time had not occurred to me until I met with Cheney one December afternoon and he told me the president-elect was considering me for both Secretary of Defense and Director of the CIA.

Between 2001-06 at the Pentagon I accumulated literally millions of pieces of paper on a wide range of topics, a sense of which I have tried to give with the documents selected for release on this website.  I had thought there was a lot of paperwork the first time I had served as Secretary of Defense, but over the decades it had ballooned exponentially.  Correspondence, reports, memos, cables—both classified and unclassified—were constantly flowing through my office.  Trying to process all this information was the equivalent of drinking out of a fire hose.  At one point I had to make them stop using the standard “SECDEF has seen” stamp because there was no way I could keep track of it all and I didn’t want to lead people to later believe I had seen something I hadn’t.  Assisted by a heroic military and civilian staff, however, we worked each day to manage the Department.

Because I have always been a believer in working off my “out” box rather than my “in” box—by which I mean I wanted to keep people focusing on the President's priorities, rather than endlessly responding to what came in to me—I generated a pretty healthy paper stream of my own.  Many of these documents are the so-called “snowflakes,” or short, informal memos.  They became a prime way I communicated with the Department as well as my colleagues in the Bush administration.  They numbered to the tens of thousands, so I have separated them and an introduction can be found here.

Visitors will find my Bush administration papers organized chronologically by year in the Library.

Additional related documents can be found at