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. P. D.

    Any member of the Bush Administration has no right to critizine ANYONE. Because of their lack of competance, we are in this mess today. So Cheney and this guy should just keep their mouths shut.

    October 25, 2009 09:40 pm at 9:40 pm |
  2. jon,philadelphia

    Rahm is completely correct. When Bush decided to invade Iraq, Afghanistan was left completely adrift. There can be no argument about that. For Ed Gillespie to say otherwise is a LIE!!!!!!!!!!!!

    October 25, 2009 09:43 pm at 9:43 pm |
  3. the realist

    The Bush Administration and the Truth does not mix.it's like Dick Chains-ney respecting the Commander in Chief

    October 25, 2009 09:43 pm at 9:43 pm |
  4. the realist

    The Bush Administration and the Truth does not mix.it's like Dick Chains-ney respecting the Commander in Chief it's not Happening

    October 25, 2009 09:45 pm at 9:45 pm |
  5. jim

    again, what else would we expect from the party of no. it's just more of the same old, same old garbage.

    October 25, 2009 09:46 pm at 9:46 pm |
  6. James

    The members of the former administration need to keep their noses out of current events. They have no power, yet seem only interested in their place in the history books. The last thing that these people think about is the welfare of the United States. This is the last thing on the minds of these incredibly selfish people. Fortunately, due to the amazing wisdom of our founding fathers, our republic still exists, in spite of 8 years of GW Bush. Let our new president do his job the way he sees fit. The people of the Bush Administration need to fade into the woodwork.

    October 25, 2009 09:48 pm at 9:48 pm |
  7. Mr Kitty

    Emmanuel is a liar and the WH is playing blame politics. Secretary of Defense was appointed in 2006 and remains Secretary today. Is Emmanual saying he and the President have never spoken to Gates?

    October 25, 2009 09:48 pm at 9:48 pm |
  8. Nea

    I will be so glad when people starts TRUSTING GOD more instead of looking to our President like he have all the answers WELL people he dont and he never will So stop blaming G. Bush and this Administration and let the pass be the pass and start looking forward We have a GREAt GOD thats sits high and look low and Yes he sees everything and hears everything even when we complain instead of TRUSTING AND PRAYING and looking to him for answers. You may not have voted for President Obama but you are obligated to PRAY for him especially if you are a Christian. I 4 one believe that President Obama is capable of getting the job done but WITH THE HELP OF THE LORD!

    October 25, 2009 09:50 pm at 9:50 pm |
  9. Gil Oberdas

    8 years of having war as the only solution should say enough!

    October 25, 2009 09:52 pm at 9:52 pm |
  10. Lou in Illinois

    Has anyone else noticed that Rahm Emanuel looks a lot like Joseph Goebbels? But that's beside the point. If the Obama administration wants to wait with decision making until there is a stable government in Afghanistan, then they may as well bring all the troops home now and call it quits. No matter how the runoff election goes, there will not be a stable government in Afghanistan for years to come. The White House is just looking for an excuse to say goodbye to Afghanistan. For the Obama administration defeat in Afghanistan is a self fulfilling prophecy. Heck, with John Kerry doing the quarterbacking how could we possibly win?

    October 25, 2009 09:52 pm at 9:52 pm |
  11. mar

    of course people don't expect Mr. Bush to accept responibility for anything, as he said he didn't make any mistakes, but I just don't understand how we can clean up 8 yrs. in 8 mons. but at least he's trying

    October 25, 2009 09:53 pm at 9:53 pm |
  12. Al Bluengreenenbrownenburger

    The Bush gang fumbled Iraq and they fumbled Afghanistan. Both countries needed a Marshall Plan, and neither got it. Just putting in troops does not work, but that's all Bush, Cheney and the rest did.

    It's been too many years now, and too many local opinions have hardened against us. Iraq and Afghanistan are lost, and were lost well before Obama took office. Leaving troops in either only forstalls the inevitable power struggles between factions.

    Thanks to W. and the neo-cons, the big winner in Iraq is Iran. Thanks to Bush and the neo-cons, the Taliban is resurgent and no group we support is respected.

    The wars were lost, fumbled, bumbled, and ultimately, like Viet Nam, will prove a waste of American lives that meant nothing.

    October 25, 2009 09:53 pm at 9:53 pm |
  13. Jon

    Raum Emmanuel is not an elected leader and therefore I do not want to hear him speak for the White House on the previous administration and their decisions in Afhganistan. I am a three tour veteran and understand the decisions that President Obama needs to make concerning strategy as he has taken the leadership responsibility...but I do not want to hear his Chief of Staff, i.e. executive secratary act like he has the role of the president of anyone else on the NSC.

    October 25, 2009 09:54 pm at 9:54 pm |
  14. scott winter haven

    CHANGE=Blame Bush for everything while still campaigning for programs that nobody wants accept for the freeloaders and socialists. This White House has done nothing to improve the economy, jobs or the war on terror. Hopey Dopey has proven to be the empty suit most thinking Americians thought he was.

    October 25, 2009 09:55 pm at 9:55 pm |
  15. JD

    I think that Obama should hold more meetings on the war. After all it is the "just war". Meanwhile more troops are being killed and injured. Time to fish or cut bait and stop reading polls. Even John Stewart and SNL have caught on to this act. "All hat and no cattle" as the saying goes.

    October 25, 2009 09:57 pm at 9:57 pm |
  16. Obama supporter

    Bush left Afghanistan and let it drift while he pursued an illegal war in Iraq because of his own agenda which made absolutely no sense. What an absolute moron. I will NEVER understand how he got reelected.

    October 25, 2009 09:59 pm at 9:59 pm |
  17. Hat Trick

    Here's a simple answer to your question: The Obama administration, and most Americans, will stop blaming Bush's administration when all our troops are back home from Iraq and Afghanistan.

    October 25, 2009 09:59 pm at 9:59 pm |
  18. Lynne in CA

    The following is a statement by Retired General Paul Eaton as written on the Huffington Post 10-22-2009:

    The record is clear: Dick Cheney and the Bush administration were incompetent war fighters. They ignored Afghanistan for 7 years with a crude approach to counter-insurgency warfare best illustrated by: 1. Deny it. 2. Ignore it. 3. Bomb it. While our intelligence agencies called the region the greatest threat to America, the Bush White House under-resourced our military efforts, shifted attention to Iraq, and failed to bring to justice the masterminds of September 11.

    The only time Cheney and his cabal of foreign policy 'experts' have anything to say is when they feel compelled to protect this failed legacy. While President Obama is tasked with cleaning up the considerable mess they left behind, they continue to defend torture or rewrite a legacy of indifference on Afghanistan. Simply put, Mr. Cheney sees history throughout extremely myopic and partisan eyes.


    Who should we believe...the American hero General Eaton, or the Bush administration??? You decide.

    October 25, 2009 10:01 pm at 10:01 pm |
  19. Gary

    Rahm is a political machine, smart and shrewed but he lies, he lies to the american people, he will say and do anything to meet his political objectives. He's really not a nice person either. He's kinda sad and in some ways I feel sorry for him. For the good of the country we need to defeat Rahm, Obama and Pelosi at the voting booth.

    October 25, 2009 10:04 pm at 10:04 pm |
  20. RunningAmok

    I agree – stop the blame game, can't the current administration take responsibility for anything? And no, none of the current Admin can be trusted – every single person has been a disappointment so far!

    By the way, I wish people would stop saying no WMD's were found in Iraq – PLEASE go back and read the newspapers from this time – Plutonium – and lots of it – was indeed found! (Among other things).

    October 25, 2009 10:06 pm at 10:06 pm |
  21. Charlie

    What Bush did was bad, that's why the GOP got voted out. But I am sick of the whining from the new administration. We vote for you to fix it, not to whine. And the DEM need to clean up their houses as well. When the Chairman of the Senate Taxing committee evading tax and the Chairman of the Senate banking committee got a special mortgage loan of 1.5% and said he thought that's a normal rate, we are the people of the US are in trouble.

    October 25, 2009 10:10 pm at 10:10 pm |
  22. Gentwelve

    Rham Emanuel is the most DANGEROUS person in and BIGGEST threat to The United States of America. We'll see what kind of a President Mr. Obama is when he either gets rid of this guy or stays with him.

    October 25, 2009 10:10 pm at 10:10 pm |
  23. Willy Brown

    This is the whiniest administration , Obama's, in history. Always blaming everyone but themselves for not being what they said they be when the hoodwinked America into voting them in.

    October 25, 2009 10:12 pm at 10:12 pm |
  24. JS007

    OK CNN, why don't you do some investigating and tell us who's lying here? I'm so tired of you just quoting two sides and the reader being left to wonder who's telling the truth. Bush guys are usually the ones who lie or mislead but it would be nice if you, the journalists, actually did some fact finding instead of just transmitting partisan sniping. If Gillespie is lying call him out, if Emanuel is lying tell us that too.

    October 25, 2009 10:14 pm at 10:14 pm |
  25. chuck

    This is old. President Obama has a responsibility as commander in chief to the troops and American people. Stop playing politics with our men and boys in Afghanistan and listen to your generals. Anything less than what Gen. Stanley McChrystal has requested is pure politics and shows the true weakness of this administration.

    October 25, 2009 10:15 pm at 10:15 pm |
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