The President on Rumsfeld (abridged):

"Few will forget the image of Don Rumsfeld as he helped rescue workers carry the victims from the rubble of the Pentagon on September the 11th, 2001. Under his leadership, U.S. and coalition forces launched one of the most innovative military campaigns in the history of modern warfare, driving the Taliban and its al Qaeda allies from power in a matter of weeks.

"In 2003...he led the planning and execution of Operation Iraqi Freedom, [which] drove Saddam Hussein from power and helped the Iraqi people establish a constitutional democracy in the heart of the Middle East. [On] Rumsfeld's watch, the men and women of our military overthrew two terrorist regimes, liberated some 50 million people, brought justice to the terrorist Zarqawi and scores of senior al Qaeda operatives, and helped stop new terrorist attacks on our people.

"America is safer and the world is more secure because of the service and the leadership of Donald Rumsfeld. He undertook the most sweeping transformation of America's global force posture since the end of World War II. Don's work in these areas did not often make the headlines. But the reforms that he has set in motion are historic, and they will enhance the security of the American people for decades to come.

"As the Secretary of Defense, he has been dedicated to his mission, loyal to his President, and devoted to the courageous men and women of our Armed Forces."

The press conference in its entirety here.

All of the above is true. The parts left unsaid are more damning.

A few months ago (August), I offered these thoughts, although I could have just as well written them in the summer of 2004:

I like Rummy and tend to support him. But I fault him for the myriad poor choices and miscalculations in our current war in Iraq. He is the person in penultimate authority. From a corporate perspective, If we viewed DOD as a division in the larger Executive, based on overall performance and net results, Rumsfeld would have lost his job years ago. Having said that, Rumsfeld is a courageous and serious person, who embodies the best of the public service tradition.

It was more than time for a change, but that does not diminish the fact that Donald Rumsfeld is a good American. He is a bright and charming guy. Thank you for your service, Secretary Rumsfeld.

More some other time on the significance of the change and what to expect from Bob Gates.