December 2nd, 2009
06:40 PM ET
8 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. James S

    It would have been good if we could have covertly got Bin Laden and his fellow leaders back in 2001. 8 years later we are still fighting the same war that crippled the Russian economy.

    December 2, 2009 05:01 pm at 5:01 pm |
  2. Lisa P

    Donald Rumsfeld not aware of something? Heavens to Betsy, I can't believe it! Guess requests for more troops in Afghanistan was one of those Unknown Unknowns he liked to talk about.

    December 2, 2009 05:03 pm at 5:03 pm |
  3. They call me "tater salad"

    Yeah.......Ole Rummy knows all about "bald misstatements" seeing as how the entire Bush administration pretty much, wrote the book on "bald misstatements".......Sorry boy's but no matter how much you try to convince us otherwise, the fact is, you will all go down in this nations history books as the most incompetent, ineffective, morally corrupt, failure of any other Presidential administration ever!!!!!!!FACTS ARE FACTS!!!!!!!

    December 2, 2009 05:04 pm at 5:04 pm |
  4. RJ

    Well, this old a–hole finally crawled out from under his rock to tell some more lies. He wanted to help out his partner Dick Cheney with his complaining about President, yes, that is President Obama.
    CNN will broadcast or print anything or anyone who wants to say something negative about Obama or his administration.

    December 2, 2009 05:05 pm at 5:05 pm |
  5. Harriett

    What a surprise. Donald Rumsfeld stretching the truth. Bush sure did know how to hire pathological liars (Dick Cheney come to mind?)

    December 2, 2009 05:05 pm at 5:05 pm |
  6. Fnord-a-saurus Rex

    I'm fairly certain that no one in the Bush administration has a leg to stand on when it comes to critisizing anybody for not speaking the truth.

    December 2, 2009 05:05 pm at 5:05 pm |
  7. Dennis

    The Republicans have little regard for the truth. Since many people will not fact check them, they have little fear from exposure. We need to expose their lies every time they lie.

    December 2, 2009 05:05 pm at 5:05 pm |
  8. ScottC543

    There isn't a single person from the bush administration who would know the truth if it bit them on the butt.

    December 2, 2009 05:06 pm at 5:06 pm |
  9. CHANGE.COM

    Rummy, Admiral Mike Mullen just contradicted you! Fact is, you and Bush and Cheney, took your eyes off Afghanistan and let the situation detoriate to this level. Instead, you went after Sadam Hussein for attempting to kill Dubya's father. I don't understand why all of you are not in jail somewhere for the grand lie to the American people!

    December 2, 2009 05:06 pm at 5:06 pm |
  10. kman821

    Although I absolutely disagree with Obama's Afghanistan policy ... I must say, Rumsfeld was a rank amateur, who along with the Dunce In Chief GWB and the DICK let Bin Laden escape into Pakistan early on due to their combined ineptitude (although, each is stupid enough to have done it alone). So Rummy ... just where does your expertise come from beside the large hole in your nether-region?

    December 2, 2009 05:06 pm at 5:06 pm |
  11. Murf

    Donald Rumsfeld and the other Bush cronys are just trying to save face. Your story points out that Obama's assertions about Afghan troop requests were denied and Admiral Mullen is providing the backup cover to what Obama said in his address at West Point. I just wish Cheney, Rumsfeld, Rove and that entire group of nincumpoops would just ride quietly into the sunset, and never to be heard from again.

    December 2, 2009 05:07 pm at 5:07 pm |
  12. Tim

    Donald Rumsfeld is lying. In other news, the sky is blue, water is wet, and babies are prone to crying.

    December 2, 2009 05:07 pm at 5:07 pm |
  13. Paul G

    Like Rumsfeld has any integrity at all. As the dust settles on the Bush-Cheney-Rumsfeld-Wolfowitz-Franks debacle, each day reveals yet another litany of lies by the 5 amigos!

    Now we learn that requests for troops were made to Bush in Oct 2007, which implies the request sat on his desk for 14 months. Yet our GOP friends scream for Obama's head because he took 4 months to ask tough questions and try to get it right.

    If Bush-Cheney had finished it at Tora Bora in 2003, when they had Bin Laden surrounded, this war would be finished and our troops home. Sadly, that was never Cheney's goal and would have eliminated his excuse to start a war with Iraq

    December 2, 2009 05:07 pm at 5:07 pm |
  14. anotherGDlefty

    Oh Rummy..........shut it.

    A whole new bunch of honorable men are handling things now and guess what, they don't want your input just like you didn't want to hear it during your time in charge.

    So now Mullen & McKiernan are liars in Rummy's world ?

    You should go back under your rock before you get sunburned.

    December 2, 2009 05:07 pm at 5:07 pm |
  15. MsDp

    Rumsfeld, obiviously there were a LOT of things that you were are not aware of; so, what else is new! I'm sure that all of the President's statements have a lot of truth, which is something you know nothing about. Please go back inside and stop talking, now!!!

    December 2, 2009 05:08 pm at 5:08 pm |
  16. Bill from Texas

    Former secdef Rumsfeld's memory has been proven to "faulty" in the past. Combined with his penchant for avoiding responsibilty, I think I'd rather hear from some one else on this matter.......maybe my third cousin. He lies alot, but owns up to it when he gats caught!

    December 2, 2009 05:08 pm at 5:08 pm |
  17. Cathy in AZ

    No way am I believing ONE WORD that Rumsfeld says – he, Cheney, et al are just trying to justify their lying to the American public. We bought it once, won't do that again!

    December 2, 2009 05:08 pm at 5:08 pm |
  18. Thomas

    Donald Rumsfeld will criticize all but himself !
    Arrogance , Denial , self-serving !

    December 2, 2009 05:09 pm at 5:09 pm |
  19. Paul G

    depose Saddam and get access to Iraq's oil reserves.

    There was NEVER any real intelligence against Iraq. The smoke and mirrors created by Cheney and Feith are now known to be 100% lies.

    Why he and Bush are not being charged with war crimes is unknown, since the USA established at Nuremberg that an unprovoked preemptive war of aggression against another country that neither threatened or attacked the aggressor nation was in fact a war crime.

    December 2, 2009 05:11 pm at 5:11 pm |
  20. Tavarez

    With all due respect to the former Secretary of Defense and President Bush you were the ones who took your eye of the ball in Afghanistan. You instead made the decision of sending troops to fight a war we did not need to fight in Iraq. My son being one of them. So I am glad we have elected a leader who takes his time to think things through. Unlike, remember this one, " Oil revenues will pay for this war." You and President Bush are the ones who dishonor our brave men and women in uniform. And we three generations of veterans in my family I know what I am talking about.

    December 2, 2009 05:11 pm at 5:11 pm |
  21. Mike

    Rumsfield is just upset because he is no longer relevant. Washed up. He was proven to be ineffectual when he was running the DOD. Poor man...delusional at best!

    December 2, 2009 05:12 pm at 5:12 pm |
  22. Shirley In California

    Liar, liar – pants on fire!

    December 2, 2009 05:12 pm at 5:12 pm |
  23. joe dokes

    Yeah, like anyone in the world should trust a thing coming out of Rumsfeld's mouth!

    December 2, 2009 05:12 pm at 5:12 pm |
  24. Carol

    We REALLY care what Rummy has to day. We have his number.

    December 2, 2009 05:13 pm at 5:13 pm |
  25. Hot Dog

    Rumsfield is either senile or telling a lie. These guys do not want to admit that they were wrong. The burden is on him to prove that President Barack Obama made a mis-statment. The previous administration were busy looking for WMD and fighting the wrong war. This much is true about telling a lie. You have to tell another lie to cover the first lie.

    December 2, 2009 05:14 pm at 5:14 pm |
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