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. Seattle

    Look at your eyes you certainly broke your trust with 8 years of running the country in the ditch.
    Try looking at yourself in the mirror you wont see anything but a big empty blob.

    CNN this is not news by any measure .

    October 25, 2009 08:42 pm at 8:42 pm |
  2. jimtranr in Oregon

    It's arguable that the war in Afghanistan could have been wound up when U.S. troops had Osama bin Laden and his minions bottled up in and around Tora Bora–had the Bush administration and General Tommy Franks been willing to commit the resources and risk the probable casualties necessary to finish the job. Neither the White House nor the general had the guts to make that commitment, so anything that party hack Ed Gillespie has to say is irrelevant and immaterial, if not a whitewashing rewrite of history.

    October 25, 2009 08:42 pm at 8:42 pm |
  3. Megan

    Karen..when people look in your eyes, can they trust you? That was not the brightest remark. He is understandably hesitant and not gungho like our last president. Yes hes been in for 9 months, as another person posted. But we forget it took almost 8 years to get to the mess we are at- both domestically and on foreign soil. Give the man at least a year and a half to unravel some of it. Many of you are asking for the impossible.

    October 25, 2009 08:43 pm at 8:43 pm |
  4. Harvey

    When you see Rahm Emanuel on TV, do you come away with a warm, fuzzy feeling that he's a good guy, or do you get that feeling that he's constantly deceiving people while reaming them behind the scenes. To me, he comes across as the type of person who would read you the riot act and then pull the rug from under you when you least expect it while on one of his many daily power trips. He just doesn't convey "trust" in any sense of the word. If I were to guess, I'd bet the majority of people under him either despise him or are deeply afraid of him...

    October 25, 2009 08:44 pm at 8:44 pm |
  5. AstroTurf This

    As an officer in the US Army, My boyfriend had been going back and forth to Afghanistan for 8 years. He knows EXACTLY what is going on in that country. Bush knew...and Obama knows. Rahm Emanuel is a liar. There is no surprise here. Nothing...and I repeat NOTHING has changed other than we have made headway with the people of Afghanistan. What talks there is power and money. When you have a President who bases his decisions on POLITICS rather than what his generals are telling him the enemy instantly smells blood. Our troops are target practice while Mr. Indecision makes up his mind whether to win the war or make the far-left happy.

    I have NEVER seen anything more irresponsible in my life. Rahm Emanuel should be thrown out on his ear.

    October 25, 2009 08:44 pm at 8:44 pm |
  6. Elizabeth

    I would much rather have a President who carefully weighs all sides of an issue before arriving at a decision than one who leaps into a war with little or no forethought. Iraq had little or nothing to do with the 9/ll attacks, but Bush/Cheney wanted to fight Saddam, so they did ~ regardless of the facts. My personal belief is that escalating the war in Afghanistan will be counterproductive, while escalating the development (or re-development) of Afghanistan's infrastructure will be beneficial to both Afghans and Americans. Defensive support for infrastructure projects certainly will be needed, as will defense of the major population centers until the Afghan army can assume that responsibility will be necessary, I expect; but I hope that the local army soon will be able to take that on.

    October 25, 2009 08:44 pm at 8:44 pm |
  7. STILL unemployed in Iowa

    Obama and his administration have to have someone to blame for their misguided leadership and they must LIE like Obama to keep devieving the American people so thay can keep their smoke scvreen up. Obama and his administtration are so inept at what they do that they jeprodize the security of this nation and the safety of the people.

    IMPEACH OBAMA and FIRE EMANUEL, they are terroist sypathizers

    October 25, 2009 08:45 pm at 8:45 pm |
  8. Military Dad

    I am pretty sure that Rham doesn't even know where Afghanistan is on the map. I wonder why they requested the Bush adm not to reveal what their review yielded.

    My fellow Americans, this is what we get when we elect someone on their looks and their popularity. It is obvious to me that Mr. Obama does not have a clue what he is doing.

    Who suffers??? OUR TROOPS that are fighting for our FREEDOM. Wake up America!!!!

    October 25, 2009 08:49 pm at 8:49 pm |
  9. Rick

    More lies from the Bush administration.

    October 25, 2009 08:50 pm at 8:50 pm |
  10. From one Karen to another

    You must be a republican, typical reasoning. I make the mess and expect someone else to clean it up . Oh and I need never be reminded of the complete and total mess that I made. I wish that the last administration, and yes, I mean BUSH, had been a little more hesitant about rushing us into not 1,but 2 wars. And are you serious. look at his eyes? Bush looked in someone's eyes and saw their soul......... really?

    October 25, 2009 08:50 pm at 8:50 pm |
  11. Dan Tantalo

    Here we go again. The Obama administration blames everyone else but themselves. When Bush took over he did not blame Clinton for the recession in 2000 nor did he blame Clinton for 9/11.

    Obama is so inexperienced that this is all he can do, deflect, deny, disorient the American public.

    He needs to make three honest decisions:
    1. Give the generals what they need
    2. Stop taking away our rights with this phony Health Care reform
    3. Stop lying about Global warming

    October 25, 2009 08:53 pm at 8:53 pm |
  12. Tony L

    Bush and Cheney did not have any policy on Afghanistan or Iraq. They don't have any credibility. I don't think they were able to formulate a policy because the Bush and Cheney are not bright enough for the complicated decisions needed to weight all the issues in making a policy. They only had a policy of talking to commanders on the ground and send them more troops and act tough by making tough talk like "bring it on" and "mission accomplished" without thinking deep to figure out what's in our best interest with all the circumstances at hand. Talking tough does not make you tough. Smart decisions using all available means to win the wars makes you tough.
    Cheney being a failure should actually keep his mouth shut instead of putting our nation more in danger by his deranged mind. This man still thinks he is running the country and thinks that he is ordering Bush instead of Obama. He is so mentally screwed up that he believes that he is still in control of this nation and military.

    October 25, 2009 08:56 pm at 8:56 pm |
  13. Elizabeth

    Perhaps the thousands of Afghans residing in the the U.S.A. ought to be asked to submit their thoughts on what might be the most effective and efficient ways to aid their country's advance in democracy and safety. They might have better ideas than some of the American military leaders. After all, they know and love their country in ways we never could. If each cluster of Afghans living in the U.S.A. was invited to send a representative to a conference in Washington, D.C., to meet with our President and some of his confreres, I believe much good would come of that.

    October 25, 2009 08:57 pm at 8:57 pm |
  14. a proposal given and a review given

    a proposal given and a review given that is half hearted and seeks only to answer what you want it to answer is not a study, its a justification

    Mr. Gillespie, like Cheney is trying to justify what every one knows was poorly executed

    Bush / Cheney were failures and left a huge mess to clean up

    October 25, 2009 08:57 pm at 8:57 pm |
  15. Ruty

    Face it. It is a Bush war!

    October 25, 2009 08:58 pm at 8:58 pm |
  16. jbird

    1998 1998 1998 1998 1998

    "We want to seriously diminish the threat posed by Iraq's weapons of mass destruction program." – President Bill Clinton, Feb. 17, 1998.

    "Saddam Hussein has been engaged in the development of weapons of mass destruction technology which is a threat to countries in the region and he has made a mockery of the weapons inspection process." – Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D,CA), Dec. 16, 1998.

    "[W]e urge you, after consulting with Congress, and consistent with the U. S. Constitution and laws, to take necessary actions (including, if appropriate, air and missile strikes on suspect Iraqi sites) to respond effectively to the threat posed by Iraq's refusal to end its weapons of mass destruction programs." – Letter to President Clinton signed by Democratic Senators Carl Levin, Tom Daschle, John Kerry, and others, Oct. 9, 1998.

    1998 1998 1998 -- 3 years BEFORE Bush's inauguration.

    The Senate vote to approve the Iraqi War Resolution was 77 – 23. It was approved by 29 Democrats, including John Kerry, Harry Reid, Charles Schumer, Jay Rockefeller, and Diane Feinstein.

    George Bush did not lie. He was double – crossed.

    October 25, 2009 08:59 pm at 8:59 pm |
  17. Hal

    So again, per Obama's strategy....let's ignore the Generals suggestions and let our American troops die to help his Political agenda ! PLEASE, this guy is trouble

    October 25, 2009 09:00 pm at 9:00 pm |
  18. charlie in Maine

    Somebody better buy this guy some windex and a ball-glove and make it fast. He is living in a glass house and he is starting to throw stones. When it comes to honesty the Bush folks make Obama look like Abe Lincoln.

    October 25, 2009 09:02 pm at 9:02 pm |
  19. Mark

    Iraq is now going down hill and Obama's insecurity on Afghanistan won't improve things there either. Finish it then get out!

    October 25, 2009 09:03 pm at 9:03 pm |
  20. tm

    I just wish that one time. JUST ONE TIME that ANYONE in the obama administration would act like a leader. How about you obama? You continually prove you do not have what it takes to lead anything.

    October 25, 2009 09:04 pm at 9:04 pm |
  21. Jim K.

    As as I'm concened, nobody in the previous administration ever made any sense. We should now listen to this guy? I don't think so.

    October 25, 2009 09:04 pm at 9:04 pm |
  22. Jim K.

    As far I'm concened, nobody in the previous administration ever made any sense. We should now listen to this guy? I don't think so.

    October 25, 2009 09:05 pm at 9:05 pm |
  23. Mike

    Wait, why are we questioning the Obama Administration? The President just needs more time to mull things over. Everything's okay. Despite the fact that our our troops in the field remain stretched too thin, Obama needs time to think, talk with GLAAD, and continue to isolate his commander in the field. Don't worry about making the important decisions required of a Commander-in-Chief. Just read the teleprompter, blame others for the situation and avoid making a concrete decision. I'm sorry if that sounds critical of Obama...I know we are only supposed to chant "yes, we can", drink the Kool-Aid, and silently wonder why our lives aren't improving as the nation moves towards bankruptcy.

    October 25, 2009 09:06 pm at 9:06 pm |
  24. Ralph

    And still the Bush administration will not take responsibility for a badly managed war. Emanuel is just stating the obvious.

    October 25, 2009 09:06 pm at 9:06 pm |
  25. John C.

    The Bush policies will very likely result in two failed wars. The current administration inherited a situation so bad economically, militarily, and diplomatically that it would take a miracle to get us out of this hole in four years. Bush and Cheney would like to claim they succeeded in Iraq, but their policies might still result in an Iraq civil war.

    October 25, 2009 09:06 pm at 9:06 pm |
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