October 25th, 2009
11:32 PM ET
3 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. Expat American

    There exists no intelligent method for Bush/Cheney loyalists to spin the proven fact that the Republicans blatantly lied to invade Iraq and kill hundreds of thousands of innocent civilians. The members of the former administration are liars and murderers plain and simple. History will remember Bush/Cheney and all those who voted for their 'values' as such.

    October 25, 2009 07:42 pm at 7:42 pm |
  2. steve

    Total CYA, It's not what reports you had after being there longer than WWII, it's the fact that you left a skeleton force there to go invade Iraq. You didn't have the troops or a plan to win in Afganistan or you would have used them.

    October 25, 2009 07:42 pm at 7:42 pm |
  3. Bobby

    If Obama/Rahm Emanuel are so disgusted w/ how Bush handled Afghanistan, then why did they retain Robert Gates as Defense Secretary?

    Gates never set Bush straight, so by keeping him they (Obama/Emanuel) are no smarter than our 'ol pal G.W. Bush.

    Stop blaming Bush & do SOMETHING, Obama...

    October 25, 2009 07:42 pm at 7:42 pm |
  4. jon

    This misinformation by Mr. Emanuel is surprising how? I had yet to hear an honest assessment of anything by this administration.

    October 25, 2009 07:43 pm at 7:43 pm |
  5. spokanebob

    Obama administration is so far over their head. These guys are losers from the get go. The phone is ringing at 2:00 AM and Obama is asleep.

    October 25, 2009 08:15 pm at 8:15 pm |
  6. Babaganusch

    When is Obama going to start leading and end his campaign? Quit blaming and making excuses. You wanted the job. You won. So get over it, and get on with it!

    October 25, 2009 08:16 pm at 8:16 pm |
  7. Wise Latina

    Enough with the wall-to-wall latino coverage, CNN!! We get it that state run media is complicit with Obama and the Dem campaign to give amnesty to several tens of millions of ILLEGALS, and thus trying to buy decades of Power. We see your blood lust at the expense of the entire country....

    October 25, 2009 08:17 pm at 8:17 pm |
  8. joe cassidy

    How in the Bloody hell did Dead Fish Emanual become an expert on military affairs.. Our servicemen and woman deserve more than this man giving his voice to Obama and they deserve more than Obama giving credeance to his advice.. This lousy excuse for a breathing entity is lower than a sewer Rat... Obama will soon have to come to the realization that he need sto dump Axelrod and Emanual and gain the confidence of the American people.. The more these sleaze bags offer their openions on TV the more the people will recognize just what low life scum they are...

    October 25, 2009 08:19 pm at 8:19 pm |
  9. Albo58

    Gillespie is being very polite. What he should say is that Emanuel is a party hack and unapologetic liar! Regardless, since January the responsibility of this war and this country is that of the current administration so stop the blame game and do something productive, Rahm!

    October 25, 2009 08:19 pm at 8:19 pm |
  10. Paul

    What I don't like is Cheney weighing in about Obama 'dithering'. Cheney got 5 deferments from the Viet Nam war, yet he has no problem sending our troops in harms way. Maybe if he or George Bush had immediate family in the service (or sons that had to sign up for Selective Service) they wouldn't be thumping their chests and so eager to get our troops into Iraq when Afghanistan was finished (ggod job on capturing Osama bin Laden, Cheney). Let the Obama administration do a real, thorough assessment of EVERYTHING that exists over there and EVERYTHING that we can possibly do WITH our military and civilian partners around the globe. Our military is spread thin and very, very tired. Cheney – and by proxie, Bush – is all about big talk that is far away from the hostilities with no comprehensive long term vision that will ultimately effect everyone for generations. What Bush couldn't do in 7 years cannot be done by Obama in 9 months.

    October 25, 2009 08:20 pm at 8:20 pm |
  11. Potomac Wonderfool

    Ed Gillespie is trying to smooth over his dirty secret. And it is not the Bush Adminsitration's review of the situation before Obama came into Office. It is its utter failure to create a stable government in Afganistan after We got rid of Al qaeda and Taliban. We should have stayed there like we did in germany and japan and Italy and Austria and even Iraq. But Chaney-Rumsfeld combo left the job half finished. Yes. Ed, the reason taliban came back because your boss, with his egomania friends and defenders like you decided to rush in to Iraq leaving Afganistan in shambles. So shut up and stop blaming Obama team for exposing your dirty linens.

    October 25, 2009 08:20 pm at 8:20 pm |
  12. Doug

    I have a question for Ed Gillespie that John King should have asked. When did President Obama ask them to keep their review secret , when he was a State Senator in Illinois? The Bush administration should face treason charges.

    October 25, 2009 08:21 pm at 8:21 pm |
  13. JM

    Can we say denial, denial, denial?? The Bush administration seems to think that they did absolutely nothing wrong with their handling of the situation in Afghanistan. Funny how most everyone else seems to disagree with them.

    And Paul ... they all blame the previous President ... Obama blames Bush 2 ... Bush 2 blamed Clinton ... Clinton blamed Bush 1, Bush 1/Reagan blamed Carter ... Carter blamed Ford, etc ..., etc ... etc ..

    October 25, 2009 08:21 pm at 8:21 pm |
  14. jim

    Who would listen to a former Bush aide? Why is he even given a platform to speak by the news – he is non-relevant to anything going on – where is the fact checking in what he said?

    October 25, 2009 08:22 pm at 8:22 pm |
  15. Vincent Petrosino

    Let's get this straight once and or all. We began a war in Afghanistan to end the Taliban and Al Qaeda. We took our eye off the ball seven years ago and became involved in Iraq which had NOTHING to do with our original goal. Iraq was not involved in 9/11. Iraq had NO WMDs. Al Qaeda was not aligned with Saddam Hussein. Bush Jr. wanted to avenge his papa's attempted assassination and paid for it with over 4,000 American lives. Gillespie cannot deny any of this. So where is Rahm Emmanuel wrong? NOWHERE! Why do the Bushies feel they must defend themselves if they did everything right?

    October 25, 2009 08:22 pm at 8:22 pm |
  16. Grace

    All the Bush apologists need to get real.. It took 8 years for the country to get into the shape it's in.. There was/is a laundry list of mistakes, lies, miscalculations, disinformation and misleading statements made during that time. We are seeing the result of all that now with the tanked economy and an unnecessary war going on while the real focus should never have left Afghanistan. And because of the mistakes made by the last administration we/re in a total mess throughout the middle East. How can anyone reasonably expect that President Obama can clean up that mess in a year or even 2 or 3.

    October 25, 2009 08:24 pm at 8:24 pm |
  17. Steve

    Not only is Rham wilfully misleading, he is and always has been uninformed and now has the support of the administration led media to parrot his comments. CNN MSNBC CBS NBC ABC NPR style journalism is dead.

    October 25, 2009 08:24 pm at 8:24 pm |
  18. janelle

    I'm as tired of hearing from Rahm Emmanual and Timothy Gibbs as I am of hearing "we won" and "the previous administration". During the campaign, candidate Obama had all the answers to what was wrong with our country. He was elected and also given the majority in Congress. It's time to act, now, and stop the blame game.

    October 25, 2009 08:27 pm at 8:27 pm |
  19. Audrey in VA

    Its now been two months that Gen. McCrystal's request for more troops has been sitting on Obama's desk. The president needs to man up, act like a leader, and make a decision. Its reckless to leave men there without the resources they need to get the job done. Either pull or give them more troops. Obama is too much of a coward to upset his cronies on the left, so he has done nothing. Its high time for his administration to stop blaming Bush and start assuming a little responsibility for their mismanagment of Obama's war.

    October 25, 2009 08:29 pm at 8:29 pm |
  20. Eric

    What we need are LEADERS and not people who are more concerned about the next election rather than the next generation. Every administration makes mistakes, OK. It is time to move on and focus, focus on what needs to be done without pointing fingers. The American people do not care what side of the isle people sit, they care about what is being done to fix the problems. Clearly, pointing fingers, regardless of what party a person belongs to, isn't fixing anything. To the so-called leaders of both parties and in both the Senate and the House (as well as the Executive Office), shut up with the blame game and fix our problems.

    October 25, 2009 08:34 pm at 8:34 pm |
  21. aaron

    I seem to remember in March when Obama spoke of his new campaign for the Afgan war, that was over 6 months ago and now the are saying they need to make a new strtegy? Wasn't his appt of McCrystal to win this war back then. We,, 2 months after the top commander makes his request Obama is still thinking it over? Why is that? He said he had a" comprihensive plan "6 months ago but when it doesnt work just blame someone else. The more you put the blame on other people the more you loose the confidence of the people. Say what you want guys but he is the President and he is responsible now, quit deflecting this.

    October 25, 2009 08:34 pm at 8:34 pm |
  22. GOPBslapper

    The fact is that for 7 years the Bush administration had less soldiers in Afghanistan than New York City has police officers. They established no infrastructure, military or police. In effect, they threw 20,000 soldiers there to stop a total collapse, nothing else. In fact, herion production sky rocketed under their watch. The whole thing was a Fiacso of Bush and GOP incompetence.

    October 25, 2009 08:35 pm at 8:35 pm |
  23. George Guadiane - Austerlitz, NY

    "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."

    When, in the course of SEVEN YEARS did they do the Bush administration do this "thorough review," and what had they been doing for all of the time BEFORE that??
    With six or more years "in country," it's difficult to listen to ANYONE who could have done something sooner and didn't when they complain about this President's process.

    Spin it how you like, President bush had PLENTY of time and similar advice to implement a WINNING strategy, but didn't... Why aren't you "Right" wingers crying about what the last administration failed on?

    October 25, 2009 08:37 pm at 8:37 pm |
  24. Anna

    I'd like to move past the blame game and focus on the present situation: Extremist groups such as the Taliban, Hamas, Hezbollah all present a severe threat to US security-world security! Obama is being perceived as weak and indecisive and this is not a good thing. Certainly I never was comfortable with the way that Bush handled the situation, but I fear that the present pullout in Iraq will create an enormous problem for the Iraqi people and for the US eventually if (as it seems) Iran and other radical groups gain control there. I'd like to see a strong military response in Afghanistan and continued US presence in Iraq until things have stabilized there.

    October 25, 2009 08:38 pm at 8:38 pm |
  25. Dennis

    The Obama administration is making mistake after mistake on its media coverage. They want to distort the truth and make everything out to be the previous administrations fault. I am getting weary of this president and believe I made the wrong choice when I voted for him. I did not like McCain/Palin at all but this is a nightmare.

    October 25, 2009 08:42 pm at 8:42 pm |
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