December 2nd, 2009
06:40 PM ET
10 months ago

Rumsfeld says Obama made 'bald misstatement'

Former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said he never received a request for more troops to fight the Taliban in Afghanistan.
Former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said he never received a request for more troops to fight the Taliban in Afghanistan.

Washington (CNN) – Former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld criticized President Obama's assertion Tuesday that the Bush administration ignored requests for more troops to battle the Taliban, declaring the president's remark made during his address on Afghanistan a "bald misstatement."

Rumsfeld said Wednesday that during his time as Bush's Secretary of Defense, he was "not aware of a single request of that nature."

"The President's assertion does a disservice to the truth and, in particular, to the thousands of men and women in uniform who have fought, served and sacrificed in Afghanistan," Rumsfeld said in a statement. "In the interest of better understanding the President's announcement last night, I suggest that the Congress review the President's assertion in the forthcoming debate and determine exactly what requests were made, who made them, and where and why in the chain of command they were denied."

But Admiral Mike Mullen, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff since October of 2007, said Wednesday that the former top commander in Afghanistan, General David McKiernan, had requested more troops during the previous administration, but they were sent to Iraq instead.


"In my tenure here, Gen. McKiernan specifically had a fairly substantial request for upwards of 20,000 forces which we couldn't meet because they just weren't there. They were in Iraq," Mullen said. "I spoke out early that Afghanistan was under resourced... We didn't have them because they were pushed to Iraq. We didn't have the flexibility to move them. That was the priority of a previous president. We do what the president says and that's what we did."

In his speech, Obama said his predecessors "repeatedly" ignored requests for more troops and said that this is one reason why he decided to send more.

"Commanders in Afghanistan repeatedly asked for support to deal with the reemergence of the Taliban, but these reinforcements did not arrive," Obama said Tuesday night. "And that's why, shortly after taking office, I approved a longstanding request for more troops."

soundoff (298 Responses)
  1. catmom

    Key words, during his time as Secretary of Defense. During his time as Secretary of Defense our troops in Iraq were not adequate, they did not have proper equipment. Some of his decisions were questionable. Now he wants to question President Obama?
    Perhaps if he did a better job at fighting the wars begun on his watch, President Obama would not have to deal with the aftermath.

    December 2, 2009 09:16 pm at 9:16 pm |
  2. ted

    Rumsfeld is yet another Bush administration reviser of history. He did a horrible job as defense secretary with his oft stated 'you go to war with the army you have, not the army you don't have'. Moron. He could have invaded Afghanistan and Iraq with capable armies, but it was HE and BUSH that decided to do it the loser way. Glad those two are gone.

    December 2, 2009 09:18 pm at 9:18 pm |
  3. sick of republican phonies

    Yes, a "disservice to the truth" and to the "thousands ... who have fought, served, and sacrifices in Afghanistan" WAS done. But it was done BY RUMSFELD, CHENEY, BUSH AND THEIR LYING PATSIES. THEY are the ones who lied to start the war they wanted in Iraq and ignored the too- few troops they sent to Afghanistan. INDICT, CONVICT, AND IMPRISON BUSH, CHENEY, AND RUMSFELD NOW!

    December 2, 2009 09:19 pm at 9:19 pm |
  4. Greg L.

    That's what always struck me as hypocritical about the hawks: while criticizing others about wanting to "cut and run" from Iraq, they ignored the fact that that's what Bush and the gang did in Afghanistan.

    December 2, 2009 09:22 pm at 9:22 pm |
  5. Beau

    that's rich .......... 'truth' ........... as defined by the guy who helped design the Iraq War & the Afghanistan War. George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, Don Rumsfeld ......... you couldn't make these guys up if you tried!!!!!!!! And did I hear correctly today, Sarah Palin has quit her book tour ......... 1/2 way through it?????????

    December 2, 2009 09:32 pm at 9:32 pm |
  6. jts

    After all that has come to light about this sordid Bush/Cheney/Rumsfeld cabal and their drive to invade Iraq come hell or high water, is there any legitamit reasont to listen to anything they have to say in their defense? We already know that they are history revisionist. I would never take Rumsfeld at his word even if he told me that water was wet.

    December 2, 2009 09:39 pm at 9:39 pm |
  7. frank a Vet

    yet another Obama lie YOU LIE! fits him perfectly

    December 2, 2009 09:41 pm at 9:41 pm |
  8. Anonymous

    US future in Afganistan will never be like in vietnam. Back them there was a civil war in which the guerilla with the leftist ideology was supported by US former ideology enemy, THE SOVIET UNION. Today Russia & China are confronting the same islamic terrorist attacks as US. If u are going to mention history, you have to be thruthfull , specially for the young americans who never experience the fear of communisn.

    December 2, 2009 09:55 pm at 9:55 pm |
  9. ran

    The truth will set you free except in this case it will or should send the Bush crew to jail. They will do all they can to justify their going into Iraq instead of going after those who actually harmed us.

    The war in afghanistan could have been over by now if Bush had done the right thing.

    December 2, 2009 09:59 pm at 9:59 pm |
  10. billy123

    Former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld what did you expect him and Vice President Cheney to agree with President Obama?

    Please I am sick of the news media keep putting Cheney and Rumsfeld lies in the news.

    December 2, 2009 10:25 pm at 10:25 pm |
  11. Alpha Male

    Lies, lies and more lies from the Bush Administration.

    I voted both times for W and I'm shocked, saddened, and stunned at the lies continuing to come from Rumsfeld, Cheney, et al.

    Our country will need a long time to recover from the mess that was the W Administration.

    December 2, 2009 10:43 pm at 10:43 pm |
  12. will

    Everytime I read about Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, and any other of the Bush cronies, I feel like it was all a terrible nightmare. But then they all reappear on CNN news coverage. Uggghhhh! Why can't they all just disappear and spare us having to remember those awful and embarrassing years in American history?!?!?

    December 2, 2009 10:45 pm at 10:45 pm |
  13. Michael

    RumsFAILED-–Anything he says is as relevant as Limbaugh's bluberings.........Go away and take the FORMER Vice President with you!!

    December 2, 2009 10:51 pm at 10:51 pm |
  14. Matt

    Since when has Obama told the truth. His actions don't match his pretty words.

    (I personally don't think he is a great speaker. He rarely speaks from the heart and most of the stuff he says is 'feel good' fluff–no meaning)

    December 2, 2009 10:53 pm at 10:53 pm |
  15. Alan in Marietta, GA

    Here's what's going on: Cheney and his band of brothers, daughter and one lonely former press secretary are beginning a new narrative. Here are the talking points:

    -No terrorist attack occurred during bush administration
    -Bush-Cheney not responsible for deteriorating situation in Afghanistan.
    -Military didn't request more troops in Afghanistan during bush administration
    -Obama to blame for Afghanistan

    December 2, 2009 10:57 pm at 10:57 pm |
  16. jon

    I just can't believe that this guy took four months and ten meetings to reach the same decision or conclusion to send more troops.Although he kept criticizing Bush's policies,he still copy Bush's strategies at the end of day.

    December 2, 2009 10:58 pm at 10:58 pm |
  17. Moe, NY

    I find it rather amusing that these old republicans, who started the Iraq war (which was not legal), and by all rights went into Afghan, only to botch the job are coming out and saying that President Obama made a "bald misstatement." Do they not realize that their administration under the leadership of Bush caused all the current problems Americans are facing today? The 2 wars, the complete runation of our economy are, in my opinion, totally the fault of the Bush administration. Do they not realize that President Obama is trying to fix their mistakes? These people are just pathetic, and of course they are mostly Republicans and Conservatives...go figure! I will put my trust in President Obama any day of the week over these nasty Republicans/Conservatives. I just wonder why these people are so full of hate, every action/word is designed to make our President fail. Personally, I believe President Obama will have the last laugh.

    December 2, 2009 11:05 pm at 11:05 pm |
  18. james

    That crowd (Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, etc.) are quickly becoming irrelevant history. Thank God!

    December 2, 2009 11:06 pm at 11:06 pm |
  19. served and sacrificed in Afghanistan

    You, Mr. Rumsfeld do a disservice to the truth.

    You Mr. Rumsfeld have lied repeatedly in particular, to the thousands of men and women in uniform who have fought,

    I cannot believe you are not in jail, you are a criminal

    December 2, 2009 11:12 pm at 11:12 pm |
  20. kimberly

    wow, is this the pot calling the kettle black? the bush years were the worst years for this country! everyone lived beyond their means, and lived like they had no responsiblilty to the future. he destroyed this country and should shut his mouth!

    December 2, 2009 11:12 pm at 11:12 pm |
  21. Dan, Idaho Falls

    Rumsfeld doesn't support the troops. Never has. Never will.

    December 2, 2009 11:12 pm at 11:12 pm |
  22. Rosebud

    (NEED I SAY MORE)... The "Bald Truth" is a weekly talk radio show hosted by Spencer Kobren, founder and president of the American Hair Loss Association. The show is two hours long and airs every Sunday night at 5PM PT/8PM ET from the Westwood One studios in Los Angeles, California. Host Kobren is also a best-selling author, having published the books The Bald Truth: The First Complete Guide to Preventing and Treating Hair Loss, and The Truth About Women's Hair Loss. (THAT's HAS MORE VALUE than Rumsfeld's accusation)

    December 2, 2009 11:18 pm at 11:18 pm |
  23. EZ

    It always amazes me how Cheney and Rumsfeld can run off at the mouth as if they are credible in any shape or form when these two idiots are the very same fumbling clowns who DROVE our country into TWO WARS costing us (the taxpayers) BILLIONS and BILLIONS of dollars!!

    Go figure......I guess NOW that they don't have to clean up their own mess they NOW behave as if they are the "experts" and have all the answers.

    WHERE was Rumsfeld's solutions when he was in the White House? WHERE was Cheney's solutions when he was quietly hiding in a secluded bunker?

    December 2, 2009 11:25 pm at 11:25 pm |
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