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. Former Republican

    THE BIGGER MISTAKE IN THIS TRAGEDY IS OURS.

    WE THE AMERICAN PEOPLE SHOULD NOT HAVE LET A BUSH

    ANYWHERE NEAR THE WHITE HOUSE. AFTER ALL THE FIRST

    BUSH WAS A DUD & THE SECOND ONE PROVED TO BE A

    GINORMOUS DUD & A DIVIDER OF NOT JUST THIS NATION

    BUT THE WORLD AS A WHOLE. HIS LEGACY IS UTTER SHAME.

    January 13, 2009 03:27 pm at 3:27 pm |
  2. Big Mike

    How long is this irrelevant whench going to be in the media. Any more only validates her claim that someone really gives a hoot

    January 13, 2009 03:27 pm at 3:27 pm |
  3. jean in MN

    And a ventriloquist put the "bring 'em on" words in dubya's mouth?

    January 13, 2009 03:29 pm at 3:29 pm |
  4. frayedcat

    Very interesting....but stupid

    January 13, 2009 03:29 pm at 3:29 pm |
  5. lee

    So, who paid for the banner- the ship or the White House? For years, the president has been dodging this question, while implying it was not done by his staff. Now we find that it was. Why did the President disemble?

    January 13, 2009 03:30 pm at 3:30 pm |
  6. Danny from Phoenix

    Easy to take the blame now that the banner greatly helped him get into office another term and destroy the U.S. for four more years. Another pathetic, arrogant politican.

    January 13, 2009 03:30 pm at 3:30 pm |
  7. rosy obama mama

    Oh Yeah Right!!!!!

    January 13, 2009 03:30 pm at 3:30 pm |
  8. Brian R.

    Who cares whose fault the banner was? That "mistake" was so minor compared to Bush's other "mistakes" that the banner shouldn't even merit commentary in the news. Bush has already solidified his place in history as the most wreckless, fiscally irresponsible president in United States history. Bush has left this country worse off than he found it in every conceivable way – the federal government's budget deficits are an imminent, looming disaster, the military is overstretched and unable to meet any new threats that might arise, American foreign policy is in shambles. In 50 years, the verdict of history will be in, and Bush will be remembered as one of the worst presidents ever, right up there with James Buchanan. Good riddance. Unfortunately, Obama has given me no reason to hope that he will be any better.

    January 13, 2009 03:30 pm at 3:30 pm |
  9. Kevin B

    Once again the Bush team is trying to spin their way out of an arrogant and huge public mis step. To their last day they continue to insult the intelligence of the american public. he even said at the time that major combat operations have been successful and we are victorious.

    There is no way the president or his staff did not try to convey that the Iraq was "mission accomplished" in spite having over 140K troops in harms way at the time

    How does he explain the "bring em on" statement, when confronted by the press about the course of the war shortly after the "mission accomplished" statement.

    Please get these guys out of D.C asap.

    January 13, 2009 03:31 pm at 3:31 pm |
  10. Ed, Santa Fe, NM

    Dumbo Bush still doesn't understand he is responsible and accountable for everything that happed on his disastrous watch.....

    January 13, 2009 03:32 pm at 3:32 pm |
  11. Proud American

    7 more days and America's mission will be accomplished. Thank God and grayhound. He's out of there.

    January 13, 2009 03:32 pm at 3:32 pm |
  12. Lori In DFW, Texas

    Yeah, sure....nothing is Bush's fault. He was only following orders.

    Jeez! Bush "endears loyalty from people" like Mr. Bartlett. Maybe you're loyal to him, but as for the majority of us who are not beltway insiders, we cannot say goodbye to him fast enough.

    Now, if only we could say goodbye to the disasters he left behind just as quickly....

    January 13, 2009 03:34 pm at 3:34 pm |
  13. Jill American

    The 'mission' that was accomplished was to get Daddy Bush's face off the sidewalk leading into the Bagdad hotel so people could walk on it (bottom of the shoe insult). When they rushed Bagdad there was a clip shown on TV of the soldiers breaking up the tiled image with hammers. Then the clip was never seen again. WMDs? Baloney!

    January 13, 2009 03:35 pm at 3:35 pm |
  14. Todd Ackerman

    I kind of thought a news "ticker" would be a place for fast-breaking stories. Yet today it has had two (at least) stories about Sara Palin, who lost an election more than two months ago, and now this tripe about a sign hung on an aircraft carrier nearly seven years ago.

    Maybe you should rename the "ticker" and call it something more fitting.

    I suggest "Non-News."

    January 13, 2009 03:35 pm at 3:35 pm |
  15. Stephen in Bedford, TX

    What!? Dan Bartlett is an analyst with CBS. Where is the liberal media?

    January 13, 2009 03:35 pm at 3:35 pm |
  16. BeefyDaddy

    Bush is such an idiot, he doesn't even realize his own failures! The actual banner was not a mistake. It made reference to the end of military operations there. The old government was basically toppled. Mission accomplished. His real failure is not pulling all of our troops out of Iraq at that time! The vaccuum would have been ugly but we would have succeeded in removing Saddam and pushing Iraq toward democracy. Instead we stayed. The conditions are just as ugly, Iraq is closer to Iran than ever before, armed groups are everywhere, democracy is no closer, we are no safer and now barely any positive significant thing has been accomplished. Worst. Ever.

    January 13, 2009 03:35 pm at 3:35 pm |
  17. Paul DObro

    OK, lets ignore the banner you say should have read:

    MISSION ACCOMPLISHED FOR THE MEN AND WOMEN ON THIS SHIP

    and read the text of the speach "end of combat operatons" and the rest.

    If Bush worked as hard at his job as he has re-writing his legacy, Bin Laudin would be in jail, no financial crisis, and New Orleans would be thriving.

    History will be written by historians no matter what you try to write.

    January 13, 2009 03:36 pm at 3:36 pm |
  18. Vette78man

    How nice. Bush didn't throw Bartlett under the bus. But why did the WH try to foist the banner as an action taken by the carrier's crew as a way to deflect criticism? Way to let service members take the blame for a political decision. But that's nothing new for this administration.

    January 13, 2009 03:36 pm at 3:36 pm |
  19. KenM

    Maybe it was Bartlett's fault too that they went to war on a whim and without a plan. Maybe Bartlett was also behind the push for the volunatry do-it-yourself oversight and follow-as-you-please regulations that trashed our enviroment and economy. And why did Bartlett push the president to arrogantly ignore the Geneva Convention and even our own constitution? Man, this guy Bartlett is really evil, isn't he?

    G. Bush has been letting other people cover for his failures, take over his responsibilities and answer for his mistakes ALL HIS LIFE, starting with opting out of serving in Vietnam AFTER he so ardently supported it while in Yale. This was all well-documented back in 2000. He is the very difinition of Chickens-t....and by the way...so are the people who voted for him twice!!

    January 13, 2009 03:37 pm at 3:37 pm |
  20. mark

    I wouldn't feel bad. Obama hasn't even taken the oath and all the David Gergen idiot types are already talking about how Barry Hussein has saved the world...have you seen the market Gergen? Idiot

    January 13, 2009 03:38 pm at 3:38 pm |
  21. Janet in Reno

    let's get this right – nothing has been his fault – not a thing...this man has not accepted responsibility for any one of the horrible blunders that happened on his watch. this is the same man who let Americans drown in an AMERICAN city. shameful. go away.

    January 13, 2009 03:38 pm at 3:38 pm |
  22. Beverly, NYC

    Nice of you to fall on the sword Bartlett, run along now to your high paying lobbyist job, water under the aircraft carrier. 6 days and this nightmare will be over.

    January 13, 2009 03:38 pm at 3:38 pm |
  23. sammieb51

    Good, now that blame has been properly affixed with who hung the sign, maybe we can move on to the fact that the ship was actually immediately off shore and was turned so backdrop was open ocean and of course appeared to be 'underway to war'. He really misses the point when it comes to his 'errors'.

    January 13, 2009 03:38 pm at 3:38 pm |
  24. Chris

    Loyalty? Yeah, good luck with that.

    January 13, 2009 03:38 pm at 3:38 pm |
  25. Christina Bearden

    sure- weak journalism- par for the course-keep it up

    January 13, 2009 03:41 pm at 3:41 pm |
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