October 25th, 2009
11:32 PM ET
7 years ago

Former Bush aide: Emanuel 'uninformed or willfully misleading'

Ed Gillespie said Sunday that Obama Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel was either 'uninformed or willfully misleading' on the issue of Afghanistan.

Ed Gillespie said Sunday that Obama Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel was either 'uninformed or willfully misleading' on the issue of Afghanistan.

WASHINGTON (CNN) – A one-time aide to former President George W. Bush took aim Sunday at recent comments by White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel that questioned the Bush administration's conduct of the war in Afghanistan.

Last Sunday on CNN's State of the Union, Emanuel strongly suggested that the current scenario in Afghanistan – with a contentious election last month casting a cloud over an already difficult security situation – was the result of missteps on the part of the previous administration.

"It's clear that basically we had a war [in Afghanistan] for eight years that was going on, that's adrift," Emanuel told CNN's John King, "that we're beginning at scratch, just at the starting point, after eight years – and that there's not an [Afghan] security force, an [Afghan] army, and the types of services that are important for the Afghans to become a true partner."

"There's a set of questions that have to have answers that have never been asked," Emanuel also said last Sunday.

Responding to Emanuel, former Bush counselor Ed Gillespie said Sunday on State of the Union that Obama's Chief of Staff "was either uninformed or willfully misleading in what he said."

Gillepsie told King that the Bush administration conducted its own thorough review of the Afghanistan war but did not disclose it publicly at the request of the incoming Obama administration.

"[Emanuel] knows full well – I suspect – that there was a proposal given and a review given that took into account the Afghan national army, the politics over there, the policing, the international framework," Gillespie said Sunday.

After Emanuel's remarks last Sunday, former Vice President Dick Cheney resurfaced after several weeks out of the public eye and said that President Obama was "dithering" over the decision about Afghanistan troop levels.

The White House quickly shot back at Cheney.

"What Vice President Cheney calls 'dithering,' President Obama calls his solemn responsibility to the men and women in uniform and to the American public," White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said.

Obama is currently conducting an extensive review of the U.S. military presence in Afghanistan. In the midst of the review, the country held a presidential election last month which observers say was tainted by fraud and corruption.

Gen. Stanley McChrystal, the top U.S. military commander in Afghanistan, has reportedly asked the White House for 40,000 additional troops to carry out a counterinsurgency strategy in the country. The White House, in recent comments by Emanuel and other senior Obama aides, has suggested that the U.S. strategy in Afghanistan depends on the stability and functionality of the Afghan government. That, the White House has also suggested, cannot be sufficiently determined until the country's runoff presidential election early next month.

–CNN Ticker Producer Alexander Mooney contributed to this report.

Filed under: Afghanistan • Extra • Popular Posts • Rahm Emanuel • State of the Union
soundoff (179 Responses)
  1. Tony

    Well, if Bush had it so right, then why are we still there and how come it's still such a mess?

    October 25, 2009 07:08 pm at 7:08 pm |
  2. kj

    Just to respond to the comment made by Karen....One has to acknowledge where the problem originated and failure to act should be duly noted. I think it's so easy for everyone to say: why are we blaming the Bush administration?"..Well, if Obama was with the previous administration he would also be blamed. As far as the Afgan war, it's not an easy problem for any leader or president and I believe that was why the Bush administration was unable to be decisive about the region or make any concrete decision about what and how to move forward. We lost the focus from the time we started the War in Iraq. It' that simple.. There was misallocation of resources..It is a difficult region and I am glad that President Obama is taking his time to make the right decison as supposed to what his critics or supporters think he should do. After all, he is the Commander-in-chief.

    October 25, 2009 07:10 pm at 7:10 pm |
  3. JD in Jax

    I am so sick of hearing how everything is Bush's fault. I don't recall a single President from Jimmy Carter to the present (excluding President Obama) that ever laid the blame for all his woes at the feet of the former President. On the campaign trail BO said he had all the answers and that the Bush administration had it all wrong...now we find out BO doesnt have any answers and he carries on the very same policies that President Bush had implemented (to include the rules of interrogation, the Patriot Act and wire tapping and keeping troops in Iraq). It's about time he manned up and took responsibility for the war, the economy and every other challenge that faces the nation...wasn't it he who said we weren't going to look backward but forward?

    October 25, 2009 07:12 pm at 7:12 pm |
  4. patrick

    Remember this is the President that voted "present" over 140 times in the Illinois legislature. I guess a simple "yes" or "no" on a bill was too difficult to decide. (Remember we must carefully calculate the "political" ramifications of everything- it's all about elections, not governing.) So don't be surprised if it takes him months to decide anything! Maybe the issue will so away without a decision- ya think? It's much easier to keep blaming someone else for his indecisiveness.

    October 25, 2009 07:14 pm at 7:14 pm |
  5. st. louis

    Ha ha. Where are the WMD's??????

    October 25, 2009 07:16 pm at 7:16 pm |
  6. Jenn, Philadelphia

    Stop blaming the Bush administration for everything, then they don't have to respond and you don't have to respond to their response. This is being to resemble a child's "are too" "are not" argument.

    October 25, 2009 07:17 pm at 7:17 pm |
  7. Anonymous

    Rahm Emanuel will point the finger, blame and make up an EXCUSE of the worst president in the history of the United States.
    obama has been whining and crying about his own personal problems of "MAKING DECISIONS IN A TIMELY MANNER" AND NOT KNOWING WHAT "WHAT DECISION TO MAKE, PERIOD!"

    Rahm Emanuel is an overly agressive, arrogant, idiot who is cocky beyond reason. Emanuel thinks he knows the answer to everything and if not, WILL FABRICATE SOMETHING TO PROTECT HIS BOY FRIEND, OBAMA.

    obama is obviously nothing but a Weak, Ineffectual President. How he was elected is a case for explanation by ACORN.
    obama is a disgrace to this great nation.......He makes me ashamed.

    October 25, 2009 07:18 pm at 7:18 pm |
  8. Thomas

    Does Rahm Emanuel and this administration have any idea how badly they are degregating our military? The politics in all of this really are disgusting.

    October 25, 2009 07:18 pm at 7:18 pm |
  9. Jim in New Mexico

    The Afghans live to fight and kill. Research what happened to the Soviet soldiers and every other army that has tried to fight in Afghanistan. Read Horse Soldiers. Then ask yourselves "Why are we really in Afghanistan and Iraq?" They cut the lower jaw bone out of the Soviet soldier and sent him home with his mouth hanging open, they cut the head off their enemy, set it in his lap, poured gasoline down his windpipe and set him on fire. That's war.

    October 25, 2009 07:19 pm at 7:19 pm |
  10. Annie

    Coming from a country that was occupied by the British Army for the best part of 30 years – I can say with experience that things are rarely as they are portrayed by EITHER side – and I suspect that is the case here. You will always have opposing views on exactly the same situation in Afghanistan – it comes as no surprise whatsoever that the current administration views things differently to the previous administration given how opposite their approaches have been.

    I'm just grateful that the Obama administration is in place to see this through to the finish – and the need to get on with it!

    October 25, 2009 07:20 pm at 7:20 pm |
  11. coinier

    Ed Gillespie? Former 'Bush' aide......,? Lol! That 'splains it, right there.....,I would say he has a biased opinion, at least as much as Rahm does.....,

    October 25, 2009 07:21 pm at 7:21 pm |
  12. The Truth

    Bush needed the pipeline in Afhghan and the oil in Iraq. He knew he didn't have popular support for either if he told his sheep (you) that we needed to get as much oil as possible before we start seeing the effects of Peak Oil. That's why we got the hard sell on Iraq. We secured the pipeline and routed the Taliban early so we flipped over to the other Iranian border an invaded Iraq (too soon, apparently). Iran would have been the Trifecta for the neo-con regime, however, the CIA couldn't hack enough voting machines to put their man in... paper trails, go figure.

    And now we're left with hope...

    Mr. President, please deliver us from temptation.

    October 25, 2009 07:22 pm at 7:22 pm |
  13. HorkusMac

    Sooner or later, even the most avid supporters will grow weary of Obama & Co's continual blaming.

    QUIT WHINING, MR. EMMANUEL. Be professional and encourage your boss to do the same. Continual blaming of others, no matter how deserved, gets old after a while.


    Just Another post CNN will ignore.

    October 25, 2009 07:22 pm at 7:22 pm |
  14. dan harrigan

    this administration cotinues to formulate war policy based on how it affects them politicly.Say what you want about George Bush,he never made decisions about the lives of our soldiers based upon how popular he would be.Whats going on now is shameful and beneath contempt

    October 25, 2009 07:27 pm at 7:27 pm |
  15. Ken J

    AAh! willfully misleading, Is that what Bush and Cheney did for 8 yrs,

    President Obamas top aid is Retired Marine General Jones, A Marine that has more experience than any of the warmongers that have never had military time. I'm sure he knows when to send in more troops.

    October 25, 2009 07:27 pm at 7:27 pm |
  16. The idiot

    Since Emmanuel is also the man conducting the campaign against FOX and the conservative radio commentators he is obviously a lying dog in a whole pound full of lying dogs. Transparency, none. Veto of pork, none. Bipartisan approach, none. No lobbyists in the administration, lots and lots. All of these were Obama campaign promises, none have been kept. Obama lies and continues to lie.

    October 25, 2009 07:28 pm at 7:28 pm |
  17. Ferick

    Mr. Gillespie said the Bush Administration had come up with a plan for Afghanistan before it left office. Is he for real? Time for plans was in 2001 not in 2008! Emanuel was right that Bush Admin didn't achieve much in Afghanistan and Obama now has to pick up the pieces. They had 7 years to conduct the war and the best they can say is that they had a plan. It's pathetic.

    October 25, 2009 07:29 pm at 7:29 pm |
  18. Gerry

    The only time the present administration takes credit for anything is when it looks good for Obama. What a bunch of loosers.

    October 25, 2009 07:29 pm at 7:29 pm |
  19. Anonymous

    Will these incompetent amateurs EVER stop blaming Bush. If you can fix it, then fix it. If not resign and let someone else try. Obozo has had 9 months to decide on a strategy, and all he's done is make things worse. Since he took office US deaths have skyrocketed, and the situation has gotten worse.

    October 25, 2009 07:30 pm at 7:30 pm |
  20. Blue in Carolina

    The Cheney/Bush administration basically dropped the ball so that Sonny boy could clean up Daddy's mess in Iraq and get Mommy's love! Let's face it, the foul up in Afghanistan is the result of the absolutely incredibly stupid idiocy of the previous administration to finish the job in the country that really was responsible for 9-11 to instead "complete the job" that Bush senior had supposedly failed to conclude (against a country that had NOT attacked us). Emmanuel is not "uninformed or willfully misleading". It's Cheney/Bush screwed up and they're now going after the people trying to clean up the incredible mess that the Republicans have made of the situation. May God help President Obama to clean up the mess Cheney/Bush left for them!!!

    October 25, 2009 07:32 pm at 7:32 pm |
  21. Allen

    When will the American people get tired of the constant squabbling? Nothing gets done, and more people die while these children point fingers at eachother. Who is worse....the cop.....or the fireman...who refuses to save a life? For 8 years, the left condemned every move the Bush administration made. They fought the surge in Iraq....declared the war lost......protested ANY escalation into the theater...and now, they have the nerve to say that he didn't do anything.................while they sit there and do NOTHING? Look, I'm no fan of Bush......but, you've GOT to see the hypocracy in both of these administrations.

    October 25, 2009 07:32 pm at 7:32 pm |
  22. Denna

    I don't know what the answer to these wars is, but you can't just pick up and move. For all of you who wanted change, did you expect utopia the day after the election? This country was put in a serious mess and no matter what President Obama does, he will be pilloried. We need to wind down these wars and return these countries to their citizens. There must be a way for the United States to protect itself without occupying a foreign land. I know what the military experts want to do, but they can't think any other way, so we remain stuck in the mess Bush started. I would suggest that all Republicans refrain from giving the president any advice at all since you sat around and let Bush start these messes, including the bank bailouts that Bush put into motion.

    October 25, 2009 07:33 pm at 7:33 pm |
  23. Hawk Texas

    Another liar. we all know that george w. bush failed at every thing he tried to do. also he lied to the whole country for 8 years. and lied to the people of texas for 7 years before that. remember when bush stood up in front of the whole world and said he had never made a mistake. ed gillespie is not a person that i would trust me to tell the truth about any thing.

    October 25, 2009 07:35 pm at 7:35 pm |
  24. Calidan

    Honestly, I perceive no validity to criticism of the Obama administration from those involved in the miserable failure of the previous Bush administration. In fact, one could truly argue that if someone from the Bush disaster thinks you are doing a bad job, you must be doing something right...

    October 25, 2009 07:36 pm at 7:36 pm |
  25. jay in denver

    Gee, Mr. Gillespie, I guess I missed the news cycle where the Bush administration captured Osama bin Laden before dashing off to invade a country that never attacked us. And a darn good thing that Bush left President Obama a memo about his abysmal failure in Afghanistan before hitting the "motivation seminar" trail.

    October 25, 2009 07:41 pm at 7:41 pm |
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