January 13th, 2009
03:25 PM ET
7 years ago

Ex-Bush aide takes blame for 'Mission Accomplished'

Bush delivered a speech on board the USS Abraham Lincoln in 2003.

Bush delivered a speech on board the USS Abraham Lincoln in 2003.

(CNN) - It's a moment President Bush has repeatedly called a mistake: Delivering a speech on board the USS Abraham Lincoln in the Spring of 2003 with a "Mission Accomplished" banner featured prominently behind him.

But the much-maligned photo-op wasn't the president's fault at all, according to former White House Communications Director Dan Bartlett.

Bartlett, currently a political analyst with CBS, said Tuesday he was the one who actually  gave the final go-ahead of the event.

"Quite frankly, yours truly was the guy who actually signed off," he said Tuesday. "I regret it to this day, because it did send the wrong message."

In his final press conference Monday, Bush immediately cited the moment when asked by a reporter what mistakes he had made over the last eight years.

"Clearly, putting a 'mission accomplished' on an aircraft carrier was a mistake," he said. "We were trying to say something differently but, nevertheless, it conveyed a different message."

Bush has also previously defended the banner as pertaining to the mission of the crew on board the Aircraft carrier, not the Iraqi invasion as a whole.

Still, Bartlett credited Bush Tuesday for not blaming his staff for the misstep.

"[That's] why he endears so much loyalty from people like myself and others who had worked for him," Bartlett said.


Filed under: President Bush
soundoff (156 Responses)
  1. believe

    bush that was the least of your mistakes.

    January 13, 2009 01:50 pm at 1:50 pm |
  2. david Armendale, SF, CA

    To hear Bush admit a mistake is like listening to a murderer apologize for using a knife instead of a gun.
    He doesn't want to question the mission – just the message the "mission accomplished" banner conveyed.

    January 13, 2009 01:54 pm at 1:54 pm |
  3. Scooter's Lead

    Scooter Libby never went to Jail. Seems as if the Buck stops over there! Never made it up to the commander in chief just to an aid? The poor guy let the past go.

    January 13, 2009 01:54 pm at 1:54 pm |
  4. cat

    A day that will live in infinity.

    January 13, 2009 01:54 pm at 1:54 pm |
  5. Jackie in Dallas

    I wonder how much he got paid off for taking the heat for this? How could it not have gone through a review process that got signed off by President Bush?

    January 13, 2009 01:56 pm at 1:56 pm |
  6. Joe Fattal

    Mission accomplished alright. That man that don't even know me gave me 300 dollars on his stimulus plan. I am going to miss him.

    January 13, 2009 01:57 pm at 1:57 pm |
  7. John

    He blamed the Navy when criticized at the time it happened.

    January 13, 2009 01:58 pm at 1:58 pm |
  8. David

    Don't you think it was media spin that made this look bad? I doubt that without media exposure this story would have had such an impact. But then the media never admits being wrong on anything!

    January 13, 2009 01:58 pm at 1:58 pm |
  9. Allen

    At this point I don't think it matters who's mistake this was, it clearly was a mistake. However, I doubt that there was another message that they wanted to convey. Someone saw this as a perfect photo-op and didn't look forward to how this would appear if the war continued for another six months, much less for another six years.

    This was to be typical of this administration: never mind the future, think only of today.

    January 13, 2009 01:59 pm at 1:59 pm |
  10. G

    Mission Accomplished you screwed up.

    January 13, 2009 01:59 pm at 1:59 pm |
  11. Greg in MN

    All the more reason to NOT listen to a word Dan Bartlett says.

    I grow more and more amazed that people are trying to make it sound like Bush's 8 years as POTUS were somehow not a complete disaster for the people of the world.

    I'm sick of people falling on their swords for Bush. He's the worst President ever and the history books will say so.

    January 13, 2009 01:59 pm at 1:59 pm |
  12. Thomas

    What the EX President will never understand is true presidential responsibility of command !

    When an officer in command hits an ice burg , he should not blame a midshipman !

    Bush obviously never learned this during his time with the Air NAtion Guard !

    And please please Mr President, , refer to Coast Guard helicopter drivers as Pilots, they are OFFICERS !

    January 13, 2009 02:01 pm at 2:01 pm |
  13. Video Guy

    I am not a Bush Fan, however I never held this against him. I was always thought that the "mission accomplished" banner was for the ship and its crew rather than the war as a whole. I think Bush got a raw deal on at least this one.

    January 13, 2009 02:01 pm at 2:01 pm |
  14. Ex-Republican

    Can we use that banner when he leaves the White House? The message it sends will be clear, and true! He's finally gone!

    Two Towers, Two wars, Two terms, Two Idiots; Too little, too long, too late.

    Wars, towers, foreign Policy, natural disasters, torture, constitution, bill of rights, world image, american pride, jobs, economy, housing market, national debt, corruption, no child left behind.

    You failed in everything you touched Bush. Good Riddance!

    January 13, 2009 02:01 pm at 2:01 pm |
  15. Jim D. in Costa Mesa

    No Bartlet, you and Bush were stupid enough to actually think the war was won. I hope that when Bush is imprisoned for war crimes and crimes against humanity that you'll go to jail with him. Without Laura there, he's going to need a girlfriend.

    January 13, 2009 02:04 pm at 2:04 pm |
  16. LIBERAL FOR LIFE

    MISSION ACCOMPLISHED!!! THE DEMS WIN AND YOU ARE FINALLY GONE. HAVE A NICE LIFE.

    January 13, 2009 02:04 pm at 2:04 pm |
  17. Kevin in Ohio

    I eagerly wait Obama's first "Mission Accomplished" moment. And I hope all the left wing nutcases out there give Obama the same understanding, respect, and deference they gave President Bush. I know I will............

    January 13, 2009 02:07 pm at 2:07 pm |
  18. AEK

    "We were trying to say something differently but, nevertheless, it conveyed a different message."

    Or possibly it was just another in a long line of lies and misinformation spread by the Bush/Cheney/Rove team. The unrepentant Bush/Chaney/Rove team that has now denied any responsibility for the erroneous intelligence manipulation that got us into Iraq, the complete failure of the federal government to rescue the city of New Orleans in its time of need, and the blame game surrounding the use of torture. They can only hope that President-elect Obama is good to his word "to only look forward."

    January 13, 2009 02:07 pm at 2:07 pm |
  19. Marc

    So, the major mistake of this stick-pile of an administration was merely the public relations packaging of it all?

    The president puts a lot of faith in how historians might judge his administration in decades to come. My guess is that they'll have a few hundred more errors, extra-constitutional actions, and outright criminal activities to add to Mr. Bush's rather short and self-serving list.

    January 13, 2009 02:08 pm at 2:08 pm |
  20. richard

    Look like the "Mission Accomplished" banner was right. Can't think of one war the US has been in that went better than this one. Their has been less death in this war than any war run by the democrats.

    January 13, 2009 02:08 pm at 2:08 pm |
  21. Fritz

    Bush stated in the "Mission Accomplished" speech that this was the end of major combat operations in Iraq. "In the Battle of Iraq, the United States and our allies have prevailed." Bush later claimed it was the crew of the ship that requested the banner and later the Navy requested it , while the White House admitted they made and hung the banner.
    Similarly, Bush blamed "a few bad apples" for Abu Ghraib. He failed to say that those bad apples were Bush, Cheney and John Yoo – instead Bush blamed the soldiers.
    He may not blame Bartlett and his staff for this – but Bush had no trouble blaming the soldiers for his mistakes. What a terrible commander in chief. Goodbye Bush.

    January 13, 2009 02:11 pm at 2:11 pm |
  22. tommy

    to answer your question our presdient bush has sucessfully acomploished any task than presdient clinton or late presdient bush we got saddam hussain and when 9/11/01 broke out it was time for us to go to war cause like isreal we didn't know what day what year those planes whe're going to crash like isreal didn't know that they where going to be bombed and they had only one person to blame and that was our presdient george hw bush and while they are still blaming him those yeller belly cowards they don't look to the future they look to the past!

    January 13, 2009 02:11 pm at 2:11 pm |
  23. Tariq

    Stop taking bullets for Bush!...even if Bush did not put up the banner himself or OK it, he said "mission accomplished" in that same speech on board the USS Abraham Lincoln.

    January 13, 2009 02:11 pm at 2:11 pm |
  24. LYNETTE IN CA

    Oh give it up already!!! Bush's entire presidency hinges on blaming someone else or someone trying to come to the rescue and take the blame!!! It's Bush's and Cheney's fault ...period!

    January 13, 2009 02:12 pm at 2:12 pm |
  25. Margie, TN

    Nothing is going to change the reputation of the WORST PRESIDENT IN HISTORY, nothing.

    January 13, 2009 02:13 pm at 2:13 pm |
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