Donald Rumsfeld's Next Move

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David Hume Kennerly / Getty

Former U.S. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld.

What's next for Donald Rumsfeld? The former Defense Secretary, not surprisingly, has had talks with publishers about the possibility of writing a book. But a longtime adviser tells that Rumsfeld has other, even more ambitious, plans.

Rumsfeld, who was Pentagon boss from 2001 to 2006 and oversaw the planning and execution of the Iraq war, is in the early stages of setting up an educational foundation that would provide fellowships to citizens who want to try their hand at public service.

The foundation, which is still in the idea stage and thus remains unnamed, would be financed by Rumsfeld himself and provide funds for Americans with experience outside of government to do a stint in public service.

Such an approach would match Rumsfeld's own career in government, which was dotted with long stretches of time in the private sector. He was elected to Congress in the early 1960s, did stints in the Nixon and Ford Administrations and briefly in the Reagan era. In between, he ran several large corporations and became quite wealthy. He returned to Washington in 2001 as Defense Secretary after nearly a two-decade absence. He resigned last November as public support for the war in Iraq collapsed.

Rumsfeld was in New York this week meeting with a executives from a number of different publishing houses.

Though he has no stated plans to write his memoir, he is open to the idea. "He hasn't made a decision to write a book," said Larry Di Rita, a former spokesman whom Rumsfeld authorized to speak to "He is not shopping a proposal. That's not where his head is. He is still in the information gathering stage."

Di Rita said that if Rumsfeld does write a book, the proceeds from it would go into his foundation. A book, he said, would help generate funds for fellowships.

Earlier this month, former CIA director George Tenet published his memoir, which was highly critical of the way the Bush Administration, and particularly the Pentagon, managed the aftermath of the invasion of Iraq. In his memoir, Tenet wrote that two decisions doomed the reconstruction of the country — the demobilization of the Iraqi Army and the de-Baathification of the Iraqi government, both of which were approved by Rumsfeld.

Such accounts have increased the publishing world's interest in Rumsfeld's side of the story.