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. Jordan

    The Banner may have been a mistake by someone else. But Bush himself, said that major combat opperations in Iraq where complete on the USS Abraham Lincoln. That is just one of the many blunders Mr. Bush made in his long, long, eight year term.

    Bring on president Obama!!!

    January 13, 2009 03:44 pm at 3:44 pm |
  2. Chas in Iowa

    There's always some smuck to stand in and take the blame after the fact with the GOP.
    What it comes down to is the Bush "propoganda machine" blew it bad.

    January 13, 2009 03:45 pm at 3:45 pm |
  3. Dan, NJ

    George Bush is to accountability as "mission accomplished" is to Iraq.

    January 13, 2009 03:46 pm at 3:46 pm |
  4. Come again!

    Can we please just spray some pesticide on all the Bushies!!

    January 13, 2009 03:47 pm at 3:47 pm |
  5. elizabeth

    Of course! It couldn't have been George's idea!

    January 13, 2009 03:50 pm at 3:50 pm |
  6. David in Sterling

    Bush et al have told several stories about the banner over the years. Sometimes they say it was not a mistake, sometimes they say it only had to do with the mission of the ship itself, sometimes they blame it on Navy PR officials, sometimes they say someone on the ship put it up without authorization, sometimes they blame low-level White House employees....

    I wonder what their story will be tomorrow?

    One thing is for certain - George W. Bush will never take responsibility for it, or for anything else he and his crew bungled over the years.

    Good riddance, W. Your presidency was an absolute disaster.

    January 13, 2009 03:50 pm at 3:50 pm |
  7. Justin, ny

    heres a quote from bush taken from this article: "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."

    Now, what I'd like to know is – what message did you THINK you were conveying when you said "mission accomplished"??? mission almost accomplished? one part of the mission accomplished? because if thats what you were trying to say, then why did you say mission accomplished?!?!?!

    idiots idiots idiots

    6 more days of this stupidity, then we can move on with our lives – FINALLY

    January 13, 2009 03:51 pm at 3:51 pm |
  8. matt

    Dont worry guys, I mean, The David Gergen types haven't seen Obama do ONE thing in his entire political life and that idiot Gergen treats the guy like he ended slavery.

    January 13, 2009 03:51 pm at 3:51 pm |
  9. REG in AZ

    Was it Bartlett that stood there with his cocksure grin and stated it? I don't think so! Whatever, this was one of the more trivial things and the arrogance ran wild on far more important matters always demonstrating a stubborn, bold and belligerent self-indulgent attitude that said 'sc–w you, I'll do whatever I want and say whatever to justify it'. There is no doubt who that was.

    January 13, 2009 03:53 pm at 3:53 pm |
  10. AndrewW

    It's funny seeing these Republicans throwing themselves in the fire for the sake of the legacy of Bush. Even if it was Bartlett's decision to put the banner up there... the President was well within his rights to tell them to take it down.

    January 13, 2009 03:55 pm at 3:55 pm |
  11. Jon Davis

    Bush has not taken any responsibility for any of his actions not once during his entire life. Why would he take responsibility for the banner?

    January 13, 2009 03:55 pm at 3:55 pm |
  12. Juge

    OK so what WAS the message you and Bush were trying to make??!!

    January 13, 2009 03:56 pm at 3:56 pm |
  13. margaret wilkerson

    I am so happy to see Pres. Bush leaving office and seeing him in any form or fashion will be to soon for me. Talk about horiffic, that's what we've seen this last eight (8) years. I don't expect to see or hear this message, but at least I tried. The old adage saying still reamins to be true, "The rich get richer and the poorer gets poorer". Things can only improve from here, oh dear please no worser.

    January 13, 2009 03:56 pm at 3:56 pm |
  14. J. Dean

    THIS IS PURE B.S. AS WE SAY, BIRDS OF SAME FEATHER FLOCK TOGETHER.
    BOTH, GEORGE BUSH AND DAN BARTLETT ARE ACTION LIKE IDIOTS. IT IS NOT RIGHT TO SAY WHO DID WHAT AT THAT TIME. IF GEORGE BUSH WAS INTELLIGENT ENOUGH HE, ONLY HE, SHOULD HAVE THE FINAL WORD AND THE DECISION. WELL WE HAVE HEARD SEVERAL TIMES DURING THE LAST 8 DISASTROUS, GEORGE BUSH TELLING US HE HIMSELF WAS THE DECISION MAKER, NAMELY HE IS THE DECIDER.
    NOW AFTER ALL THESE DISASTROUS YEARS IT SEEMS, BOTH GOERGE AND DAN ARE STILL CONFUSED. ITIS TOO LATE BABY. JUST ACCEPT YOUR DISASTERS, GEORGE, AND GO BACK TO YOUR HOME TO HIBERNATE FOR THE REST OF YOUR LIFE.
    THE LAST FACT WE STILL WOULD LIKE TO HEAR FROM GEORGE BUSH IS THAT HE, ONLY HE GEORGE BUSH, WAS THE MAIN CAUSE FOR THE DEATH OF OVER 4220 OF AMERICA'S BEST MILITARY HEROES WHO DIED BECAUSE OF GEORGE'S MISGUIDED DECISION AND LIES.
    YOU AND ALL THOSE WHO BELIEVE IN YOU, GEORGE, WILL BE HISTORY ON THE EVE OF JANUARY 20TH, 2009.

    January 13, 2009 03:57 pm at 3:57 pm |
  15. MK

    Right, did he also make Bush fly onto the ship in a plane? Did he make Bush cry when he announced the "mission accomplished", did he ever, before now say anything to take the blame? I thought, well the most recent LIE, was that the banner was to announce the "mission accomplished" for the ships crew? What ever happened to that LIE? LIARS!!! BE GONE, ALL OF YOU!

    January 13, 2009 04:05 pm at 4:05 pm |
  16. Steve

    I guess this little revelation with cause to libs to apologize for all the hatred, right?

    January 13, 2009 04:05 pm at 4:05 pm |
  17. Frank, Las Vegas

    Poor George, he still has no idea how much harm he's done to our great country. He thinks he has no responsibility for any of the problems. He has been and still is completely clueless. He's a lot like Palin, nothing is his fault, just like Palin blames everyone else for her seemingly lack of all knowledge, including the ability of speaking English in sentences.

    January 13, 2009 04:06 pm at 4:06 pm |
  18. PDX Gal

    Paying any attention here, Blago? You're in the wrong party!! Go to the party that covers for each other!!

    January 13, 2009 04:07 pm at 4:07 pm |
  19. BDS sufferer

    Apparently eight years has not been sufficient time for Bush critics.

    January 13, 2009 04:09 pm at 4:09 pm |
  20. Felonious Monk

    Revise! I don't feel as though Bush makes every single decision a "decider" could make. But he should accept the responsibility of this action. Clearly he could see mission was not accomplished. What a terrrible thing it was having him as president. I don't think the rest of the world respects America. I feel as though the rest of the world fears a fool in office such as we have had for eight years. They take away bankruptcy protection for the average citizen and throw billions at the corrupt bankers and lending institutions. Funny, they don't want to lend that money now that they have it.
    America is not safe.

    January 13, 2009 04:09 pm at 4:09 pm |
  21. peter ocrnelieus

    No matter what Bush helped the country to become terrorist attack free after 9/11 during his tenure. He should be commented for that..

    Also he always had American People's interest and he put PEOPLE FIRST!!!

    January 13, 2009 04:09 pm at 4:09 pm |
  22. Darth Vadik, CA

    Yes and my neighbor next door broke my TV by wachig it from his own house with binoculars.

    I'm starting to think that even that bruise Dana had on her eye (from the shoe throwing incident), was make up.

    January 13, 2009 04:11 pm at 4:11 pm |
  23. Donna

    Let's blame the person who is not present anymore. What a cheap shot. Did not the president read the banner prior to walking out onto the aircraft carrier? Wasn't his entrance and declaration staged? He has so much power, in fact, enough power to send thousands of men and women to Iraq and Afganistan to fight, do you mean he didn't have enough power to say, "Take that banner down."? The whole rewrite is a bunch of balogna.

    January 13, 2009 04:12 pm at 4:12 pm |
  24. SM

    These guys suddenly can't backpedal fast enough...you want a pardon, Mr. Bartlett? You might have to get in line behind Dick Cheney and Rumsfeld. Blind loyalty is never good for the country...we need honesty and truth. Bush required subterfuge, illegal acts, and lies in the name of security. Now they are all trying to make the last 8 years seems like a serious of tiny mistakes that were blown out of proportion.

    January 13, 2009 04:12 pm at 4:12 pm |
  25. Glory to God

    Only a few more days and this butcher of American soldiers and
    Iraqui civilians will be gone gone gone. I hope he and his ilk are
    tried for war crimes.

    January 13, 2009 04:14 pm at 4:14 pm |
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