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. Peter s

    Will ever these cantankerous old men shut-up? Donald Rumsfeld and Dick Cheney should explain to the American people who are the war profiteers and where are the weapons of the mass destruction!

    December 2, 2009 07:54 pm at 7:54 pm |
  2. Scott

    Gee...I wonder who to believe here?! Rumsfield who stated in several interviews that he/they "knew right where (Sadam's) weapons of mass destruction were".....and obviously there were none...or General David Mckiernan, who went on record asking for more troops and was backed up by Admiral Mullen. Rumsfeld is a proven "misstater" of facts and should be ignored. Remember he and Cheney are the architects of the Iraq war.....Ole "do it on the cheap" and "no exit strategy" Rummy....what a dirtbag.

    December 2, 2009 07:54 pm at 7:54 pm |
  3. Peter

    Says the man with zero credibility...

    December 2, 2009 07:57 pm at 7:57 pm |
  4. Phil

    I fought, served and sacrificed in Afghanistan during the previous administration and it was always understood that we were shorthanded because of Iraq. When has anything that Rumsfeld said turned out to be true. It is an insult to the men and women who have served in these two wars to have Rumsfeld use our service to try to further his cause, whatever that cause may be. Oh yea, when I went to Iraq a year later it was very clear where all the resources that should have been used in Afghanistan were.

    December 2, 2009 07:57 pm at 7:57 pm |
  5. Astonished

    Rumsfield actually has the nerve to accuse someone of making "bald misstatments"?

    December 2, 2009 07:58 pm at 7:58 pm |
  6. amazed

    Donald you and the Bush were perfect. Just ask Rush and the GOP.

    Great move into Iraq, nice priority with Afghanistan, beautiful work with the economy.

    December 2, 2009 07:59 pm at 7:59 pm |
  7. Russ in Benton

    Donald Rumsfeld "YOU LIE"

    December 2, 2009 07:59 pm at 7:59 pm |
  8. I am the not-so-great and powerless wizard of Rush

    Rumsfeld purposely let Bin Laden go at Tora Bora, so Cheney & Co. could justify the war in Iraq.

    If we had caught Bin Laden, there would have been no justification to go into Iraq. President Cheney knew it (who knows if told the titular President Bush of the scheme).

    December 2, 2009 07:59 pm at 7:59 pm |
  9. Joe Unger, San Francisco

    I want to add also that Rummy is being disingenuous. He cannot "recall" getting a request for more troops. Yet he says Obama made a "bald mistatement." If Rummy cannot exactly "recall", then he cannot be sure Obama made a bald mistatement, can he? Don Rumsfeld is obviously trying to have things both ways.

    December 2, 2009 07:59 pm at 7:59 pm |
  10. jnkekoa

    Why isn't Rumsfeld in a military brig somewhere awaiting execution? These incredibly dumb and intellectually limited buffoons – Cheney, Rumsfeld, Bybee, Yoo, Bush, McCain – are an embarrassment to the country, and frankly to humanity.

    December 2, 2009 08:00 pm at 8:00 pm |
  11. cageordir

    Rumsfeld is an idiot. His terrible strategy dropped us in to this mire. He hopelessly underestimated the required troop numbers and allowed all this to get out of hand. His strategy was analogous to not taking the full course of antibiotics, by soft pedaling the war he gave the enemy time to train and learn how to fight against us. Rumsfeld has no moral or technical authority.

    December 2, 2009 08:06 pm at 8:06 pm |
  12. Texas Longhorn talks Truth

    He lied his way into the presidency why should he stop now. I just condemn the people who should have know better that backed him. What were you thinking?

    December 2, 2009 08:07 pm at 8:07 pm |
  13. Navy Vet

    This coming from a 5 deferrmant chickenhawk who never served in the military and created the mess in Iraq.

    You sir are the last person on this planet who should even open their mouth to give their opinion.

    December 2, 2009 08:11 pm at 8:11 pm |
  14. independent Jim

    GEN Eric Shinseki, an honest soldier who told Rumsfeld the cold hard truth that it would take 300,000 or more troops to hold Iraq – Rumsfeld fired Shinseki for that bold honesty because Rumsfeld's bean counters wanted to invade Iraq with numbers that made the war appear sustainable based on troop rotations. What commander in Afghanistan would then contradict Rumsfeld and his view that we could win the war in Afghanistan simply by supporting the mujahadeen? To a large degree, Rumsfeld created this mess by insisting that his military commanders be "yes men" or get relieved of command.

    December 2, 2009 08:14 pm at 8:14 pm |
  15. David Shulmister

    Who do you believe - Mullen or Rumsfeld?? I think I know without hearing.

    December 2, 2009 08:14 pm at 8:14 pm |
  16. Stacy1467

    Why do I doubt it was a misstatement? The truth of the matter is this; we started this action in Afghanistan back in 2002. In 2003 our attention was diverted to Iraq, where we attempted and are still attempting to save a nickle on a gallon of gas. We should have been paying attention while we and our NATO allies were pushing Al QU.e.da and the Tal.i.ban into Pakistan, a nation with a nuclear arsenal.

    The last administration was too busy with Corporate interests instead of our National interest.

    December 2, 2009 08:32 pm at 8:32 pm |
  17. Fitz in Texas

    "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."

    Actually, it's not a "bald misstatement" call it what it is.....a bald lie

    December 2, 2009 08:34 pm at 8:34 pm |
  18. BEANTOWN BULLY

    WOW
    I mean was there anything that the previous administration did right? Aside from looting the commonwealth, anything? Anyone....

    December 2, 2009 08:37 pm at 8:37 pm |
  19. charlie in Maine

    I would not trust Doanld Rumsfeld any further than I could throw a one ton pile of manure.

    December 2, 2009 08:45 pm at 8:45 pm |
  20. TCM

    What do you expect? He's got himself between the country he's supposed to lead, and his muslim brotherhood....He has absolutely no clue or experience about military or any other type of leadership. So, our young soldiers will be put in harm's way to fulfill his anti-American political agenda. God help us all...

    December 2, 2009 08:45 pm at 8:45 pm |
  21. S.B.

    Rumsfeld got everything else wrong so why believe him on this one.

    December 2, 2009 08:51 pm at 8:51 pm |
  22. Larry

    Like Rumsfeld has "ANY" credibility

    Remember folks, Rumsfeld was a regular visitor to see Saddam in Iraq, when Saddam was gassing 10,000 civilians

    As a matter of fact, I believe Rumsfeld was instrumental in providing the gas

    And on a second note, if this photo of Bush does not display the ignorant arrogance of the Bush years, nothing does

    On a third note, Obama is the best thing this country has see in 100 years

    December 2, 2009 08:56 pm at 8:56 pm |
  23. tjaman

    You might not have been aware of this request because you routinely ignored the needs of our service personnel in Afghanistan. There's a REASON YOU LOST and THIS IS ONE OF THEM! *eyeroll

    December 2, 2009 09:01 pm at 9:01 pm |
  24. Marie Laveaux

    Gee, who should I believe, The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff under Bush in 2007, or Donald Rumsfeld?

    December 2, 2009 09:03 pm at 9:03 pm |
  25. Donkey Party

    Nobody in the Cheney / Bush administration can be trusted.

    December 2, 2009 09:07 pm at 9:07 pm |
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