'Known unknowns': Donald Rumsfeld's most famous — and infamous — quotes

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WASHINGTON Donald Rumsfeld – controversial Defense Secretary and architect of the Iraq war – died Tuesday in Taos, New Mexico, days before his 89th birthday, his family confirmed Wednesday.

The Republican powerbroker was well-known for his controversial and sometimes seemingly nonsensical comments. Here's a collection of Rumsfeld's most famous — and sometimes infamous — quotes.

On what he knew (and what he didn't know)

"As we know, there are known knowns. There are things we know we know. We also know there are known unknowns. That is to say, we know there are some things we do not know. But there are also unknown unknowns — the ones we don't know we don't know," Rumsfeld said in 2002, suggesting Iraq could have been giving terrorists weapons of mass destruction despite the fact there wasn't much evidence of it.

"Simply because you do not have evidence that something exists does not mean that you have evidence that it doesn't exist," he said in 2002, regarding the same topic.

"I believe what I said yesterday — I don't know what I said, but that I know what I think — and I assume it's what I said."

"Learn to say, 'I don't know.' If used when appropriate, it will be often," he wrote in his book, "Rumsfeld's Rules."

"I would not say that the future is necessarily less predictable than the past. I think the past was not predictable when it started."

On war

"Death has a tendency to encourage a depressing view of war," he said of military deaths in Iraq and Afghanistan.

"I am not going to give you a number for it because it's not my business to do intelligent work," Rumsfeld said when asked to estimate the number of Iraqi insurgents while testifying before Congress in 2005

"And does that mean you couldn't go in there and take a television camera or get a still photographer and take a picture of something that was imperfect, untidy? I could do that in any city in America. Think what's happened in our cities when we've had riots and problems and looting. Stuff happens! But in terms of what's going on in that country, it is a fundamental misunderstanding to see those images over and over and over again of some boy walking out with a vase and say, 'Oh, my goodness, you didn't have a plan.' That's nonsense. They know what they're doing. And they're doing a terrific job. And it's untidy. And freedom's untidy. And free people are free to make mistakes and commit crimes and do bad things. They're also free to live their lives and do wonderful things. And that's what's going to happen here," he said in response to scenes of rioting in Baghdad in April, 2003.

"As you know, you go to war with the army you have, not the army you might want or wish to have at a later time," he told troops in 2004.

On Osama Bin Laden

"(Osama Bin Laden is_ either alive and well or alive and not too well or not alive."

"We do know of certain knowledge that he (Osama Bin Laden) is either in Afghanistan, or in some other country, or dead," he said in 2001.

On what he didn't do

"I don't do quagmires."

"I don't do diplomacy."

"I don't do foreign policy."

"I don't do numbers."

"I don't do predictions."

On life

"The only thing that should be surprising is that we continue to be surprised," he said in his book, "Rumsfeld's Rules."

"If you are not criticized, you may not be doing much," he also said in the book.

"Oh, Lord. I didn't mean to say anything quotable."

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Known unknowns: Donald Rumsfeld's most famous — and infamous — quotes